Maoling, the mausoleum of Emperor Wu Di of the Western Han Dynasty is located about 9 Kilometers southeast of Xingping County and 45 kilometers from Xl'an. The mausoleum was in Maoxiang Town in Huaili County, during the Western Han Dy-nasty; hence the name Maoling.
Emperor Wu Di (141--87 B. C), also called Liu Che, was the fifth emperor in the Western Han Dynasty. At the age of 7, he was made the crown prince. He came to the throne at 16 and was in power for 54 years. Emperor Qin Shihuang and Emperor Han Wudi are usually mentioned together at the same time. This is because the autocratic state of centralized power in the feudal society was estab-lished by Emperor Qin Shihuang, but it was thoroughly consolidat-ed by Emperor Han Wudi.
In order to centralize the power under the feudal imperial court, Emperor Han Wudi deprived every dependent state of their titles of nobility by means of various pretexts. For example, in 112 B.C. he revoked the titles of 106 princes with the excuse that the gold they offered as an oblation to their ancestors was'not pure or short of'measure. Before the reign of Wu Di, the ministers of the imperial court were mostly those who had rendered outstanding ser-vice, and their sons and younger brothers. Even ordinary officials mostly came from wealthy, powerful or noble families. However, Emperor Wu Di did not stick to the old rule. On the contrary, he was unconstrained and broad-minded in choosing talents. He even established the Imperial College from which to train and choose qualified officials. These measures were adopted to strengthen fur-ther the system of centralization of the feudal autocracy. To bring the financial and economic rights under the control of the imperial court, Emperor Han Wudi announced that coin-minting was forbid-den among the people and the local governments, and only the coins minted by the central government could be in circulation. Metallur-gy and salt processing were also forbidden among the people. The business run by the government enjoyed the exclusive right to sell salt and iron. Meanwhile the government levied a property tax on industrialists and businessmen and so the income of the court in-creased greatly. The Western Han Dynasty became unprecedentedly rich and powerful, centralization strengthened and its feudal econo-my flourished. Emperor Han Wudi launched three important bat-tles, and defeated its formidable enemy, the Hun invaders on the northern border. He also sent men, more than once, to establish relation with the Western Regions. The well-known Silk Road was opened during his reign.Emperor Han Wudi was not only a statesman but also a strate-gist of great talent and tactics, and a lover of poetry and music as well. He set up an organization called "Yue Fu", an offical conser-vatory for collecting and composing folk songs and ballads and for training musicians. It was because of this that many folk songs in the Han Dynasty were. preserved and passed down through the ages till today. Yue Fu poems had a great influence on later periods. Po-ets like Li Bai, Du Fu and Bai Juyi in the Tang Dynasty, used to imitate and develop the style of the Yue Fu poems. In order to consolidate feudal domination and to further achieve the unity of academic thought, Emperor Han Wudi accepted the Confucian, Dong Zhongshu's proposal of "rejecting the other schools of thought and respecting only Confucianism". Thus the pe-riod of "contention between a hundred schools of thought" came to an end. From then on, Confucian thought gradually developed into an orthodox theory and had far-reaching influence on the history of China.
Emperor Han Wudi's great talent and bold strategy led the Han Empire to its prime. The feudal society of China made great developments in polities, economy, military affairs, and culture. China began to make a name for itself in the world, as a highly civi-lized, wealthy and powerful nation.
At the age of 71, Wudi died and was buried at the Maoling Mausoleum. His mausoleum was 48 meteres high and 240 metres long. Around the mausoleum there are vestiges of a wall that sur-rounded it. The wall was 400 metres long and its base was 5.8 me-tres wide. Today the vestiges of the eastern, western and northern watchtowers can be clearly seen. Among the tombs of the Western Han Dynasty, the Maoling Mausoleum was the largest in dimen-sion,


took the longest time to be built and had the richest funeral objects. Emperor Han Wudi was on the throne for 54 years, yet the construction of the Maoling Mausoleum took 53 years to be com-pleted. By the time he died, the trees at the mausoleum had grown so large that one could hardly get his arms around them. How much go!d, silver, jewelry and other treasures were buried in the tomb? No one knows. But according to historical records, one third of the yearly taxes and tributes of the state went into the construction of the Maoling Mausoleum and the purchase of funeral objects. It was said that there was such a large number of funeral objects that the tomb could hardly hold even before his death. So after the Eastern Haft Dynasty, the Maoling Mausoleum became the target of grave robbers.
It is horrifying to mention graves, but Maoling does not give you that feeling. During the Western Hah Dynasty in the area around the Maoling cemetery there were a lot of dwelling houses built for high officials and noble lords. Inside the cemetery there were many palaces and houses inhabited by tomb keepers and palace maids. The cleaners and gardeners were numbered more than 5, 000. The town of Maoling County was purposely built to the south-east of the mausoleum. Generals, officials , noblemen and the rich lived in the town and numbered over 277,000. At that time, even high officials and noble lords felt great honour if they could move near to the emperor's tomb to live.
Through the archaeological research of both the Maoling ceme-tery and the remains of the town of Maoling County, many things have been discovered there, including several remains of construc-tion sites, water pipes, cobbled roads and other building installa-tions from the Han Dynasty.
There are over 20 satellite tombs of high officials and noble re-lations around the Maoling Mausoleum. The famous young general Huo Qubing who, on six occasions, fought the Hun invaders brave-ly, was buried on the eastern side of the mausoleum one kilometer away from the main tomb. In 1978, a museum was set up at the site of Huo Qubing's tomb. Eave tiles, Han bricks, pottery figures and other valuable historical relics that have been excavated at the Maoling Mausoleum as well as the giant stone carvings that were o-riginally placed in front of Huo Qubing' tomb, are now on display there.