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The Tomb of Zhang Qian

The Tomb of Zhangqian, Xian Attraction


Tomb of Zhang Qian is seated at Bowang town of Chenggu county, Shaanxi Province. It was constructed in the shape of “凸”,with a height of 8 meters, and a length of 15 meters ranging from east to west, and from north to south. Up to date, a series of ancillary facilities have been completed for better preservation of this historical site. Moreover, Tomb of Zhang Qian was selected as a key heritage site under provincial protection for its cultural and historic value.

It was built in honor of Zhang Qian, who was sent by Emperor Wu Di of Western Han Dynasty as the special envoy on a diplomatic mission to the Western Regions. Thanks to his outstanding dedication to paying the way, the Silk Road began to serve as an important trunk road where the economic, political and cultural exchanges between the Orient and the West were taking place.


About Zhangqian
Zhang Qian was born in Chenggu district just east of Hanzhong in the north central province of Shaanxi, China. He entered the capital, Chang'an, today's Xi'an, between 140 BC and 134 BC as a Gentleman (郎), serving Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. At the time the nomadic Xiongnu tribes controlled what is now Inner Mongolia and dominated the Western Regions, Xiyu (西域), the areas neighbouring the territory of the Han Dynasty. The Han emperor was interested in establishing commercial ties with distant lands but outside contact was prevented by the hostile Xiongnu.

Zhang Qian was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was the first official diplomat to bring back reliable information about Central Asia to the Chinese imperial court, then under Emperor Wu of Han, and played an important pioneering role in the Chinese colonization and conquest of the region now known as Xinjiang.

Today Zhang Qian's travels are associated with the major route of transcontinental trade, the Silk Road. In essence, his missions opened up to China the many kingdoms and products of a part of the world then unknown to the Chinese. Zhang Qian's accounts of his explorations of Central Asia are detailed in the Early Han historical chronicles, Records of the Grand Historian, compiled by Sima Qian in the 1st century BC. The Central Asian sections of the Silk Road routes were expanded around 114 BC largely through the missions and explorations of Zhang Qian. Today Qian is considered a national hero and revered for the key role he played in opening China to the world of commercial trade.


The tomb is composed of three parts, respectively the slope tomb passage, east and west chambers, and main chamber. Since the main chamber had been raided once, lots of historical relics had lost. Only some bronze ware, ironware, pottery, jade articles, and murals are left.

The main features of this tomb are well-preserved, colorful murals in the main chamber. They can be divided into two parts. The first part includes the murals on the roof and the top of the back wall, describing the vision in heaven. The roof is filled with painted floating clouds. 

On the roof, there are two concentric circles. Between them there painted twenty eight constellations, and four sacred animals in ancient Chinese myth- Qinglong (blue dragon), Baihu (white tiger), Zhuque (fiery phoenix) and Xuanwu (a combination of turtle and snake), with the sun in the south, and the moon in the north. The painting on the top of the back wall is a derivation graph. 

In the other part, the bottom of the walls, there are animals like tiger, deer, swan, berghaan, and crane, which describe the sights on earth. The whole painting forms a harmonious view of the coexistence of all livings things in the universe.


Add: Rao Jiaying village, Bo Wang Town, Chenggu County, Shaanxi
Admission Fee: CNY 10
Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00

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