The expansive Eastern Qing Tombs, known locally as Qing Dong Ling, are part of the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties UNESCO World Heritage Site. The last imperial dynasty of China, the Qing Dynasty ruled from 1644 and 1911, during which time China’s borders expanded to their greatest capacity, encompassing modern-day Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Korea, Burma, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Surrounded by mountains, the Eastern Qing tomb complex stretches across 80 square kilometers, and serves as the final resting place of some of China’s best known emperors. Altogether, five emperors, 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing dynasty are buried in the tomb complex.
Fengshui of the Afterlife
Chinese rulers attached great importance to their mausoleums, which reflected a belief in an afterlife while also affirming their authority. They feature richly decorated stone statues, carvings, and tiles with dragon motifs while incorporating traditional Chinese geomancy and fengshui theory, or Chinese hierarchical rules, to commemorate spirits of the dead. The Eastern Qing Tombs are a unique testimony to the development of the Qing Dynasty’s funerary architecture, as well as to the architectural traditions of the last feudal dynasty in China.
Emperors Xiao Ling and Kangxi
At the center of the Eastern Qing tomb complex lies the tomb of Xiao Ling (r. 1638-1661), the first tomb to be constructed and one which exerted much influence over the tombs to follow. The Tomb of Xiao Ling is the most elaborate at the tomb complex, and set forth a basic layout of three sections: spirit way, palaces, and offering kitchens. The Jingling Tomb of Emperor Kangxi (r. 1661-1722), widely regarded as the greatest emperor of the Qing Dynasty, also lies amongst the Eastern Qing Tombs, though modest in comparisons to the Tomb of Xiao Ling.
In November 2012, the Scottish Ten team digitally documented the Eastern Qing Tombs in collaboration with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage (CACH) and the Cultural Relics Department at the Eastern Qing Tombs. The international capture team of Historic Scotland, the Digital Design Studio at The Glasgow School of Art, and CyArk utilized terrestrial laser scanners as well as a mobile mapping system from Topcon to document the site over the course of 4 weeks.