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Notes on the Geography of China: Han and Tang Imperial Tombs: Photo 1

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One such hill stands perhaps 500 yards from Maoling, the much larger hill marking the tomb of the Emperor Wu.  There's nothing much to see, because the hill has eroded into a nearly natural shape.  Its treasures are invisible, too, because the tomb has not yet been excavated.  It's ironic, because the Western Han squandered a third of all China's tax revenues on their tombs. For the Emperor Wu, who ruled for 53 prosperous years, such lavish spending implied a veritable mountain of treasure. 

We've come to this attendant's tomb while on our way to a tomb that was discovered (for Europeans) by Victor Segalen in 1914.  He saw a hill like this one, bare except for a small stone building at the top, a couple of battered trees next to the building, and a remarkable cluster of granite boulders scattered near the summit.   Segalen wrote that "They are not of any definite shape.  There is no discernible link; they would not seem to have any architectural or ritual purpose.  They lie here and there halfway up the mound as if they had tumbled down from the top of it.  They look like a herd of stone animals, dead.  There is really no knowing what to think of them." (Quoted from Segalen's Great Statuary of China, 1978.)

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