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Mausoleum of Princess Zhenxiao

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Title: Mausoleum of Princess Zhenxiao  
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Subject: Jilin, Complex of Goguryeo Tombs, List of mausolea, List of tombs and mausoleums, Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom
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Mausoleum of Princess Zhenxiao

The Mausoleum of Princess Jeonghyo (known as Zhenxiao in Chinese) was made in 793 by the people of early Korea's Balhae kingdom, and is a part of the Ancient Tombs at Longtou Mountain in Jilin, China. The Mausoleum contains, among other things, the first complete discovered and detailed murals done by Balhae artists, and hence provides valuable insights to historians.


The mausoleum was marked by a rectangular pagoda, of which only the base remains. The burial chamber is underground, beneath the remains of the pagoda, and was excavated in October 1980. The 10.5-metre-high chamber is rectangular: 5.0 × 2.6-m, and is covered with blue-green bricks.

The burial chamber contains a 1.05-metre tall, 0.58-metre width × 0.26-m depth mugui-shaped (土圭) complete and unbroken granite epitaph, on which 728 Chinese characters, in the Regular Script style, are inscribed in 18 horizontal lines. The epitaph is of a typical combined written form, which contained both the chronological writings of the Princess' whole life and the remembrance writings which displayed the praise and remembrance for the Princess. The Balhae scholar - author of this epitaph was highly learned in the traditional Chinese literature and written masterpieces, reflected in the use of sentences which included poetic lines that were modeled upon some of the poets of the early Tang dynasty.

The chamber is surrounded by four murals on each wall, depicting thirteen people in action, such as warriors (3), chamber attendants, musicians, and maids, wearing red, blue, yellow, purple, and brown robes. The murals displayed the image of the Balhae people in its completeness for the first time.


The epitaph explains that Princess Jeonghyo (정효공주, 貞孝公主) is the fourth daughter of King Mun, the third ruler of Balhae. Princess Jeonghyo was also the younger sister of Princess Jeonghye (정혜공주, 貞惠公主).

The epitaph also recorded that the Princess died on Monday, 6 July 792, during the fifty-sixth year of the Daeheung era. She was accompanied in the burial at Ran Valley (染谷) in Xi Yuan (西原 or Western Plains) in the winter of 809 (已卯) (western Gregorian solar calendar Monday, 11 January 810, Chinese lunar calendar 28th day of the 11th month). She was given the posthumous name "Jeonghyo" to qualify her as virtuous and filial. She was likely a horse-rider, as the remains of a horse were found in the chamber. The epitaph recorded the year of death as 792. This corrected previous works such as Jin Yufu's (金毓黻) Book of the Balhae Kindgdom (渤海國志長編), which recorded 793 instead.

The skeletal remains were scattered all over the chamber when discovered by archaeologists, due to previous looting. However, the looters missed several golden and copper items, jewellery, pottery, and figurines. Reconstruction showed that the bones belong to a woman, presumably the princess; but there is also a male, possibly an attendant or child. In addition, there is the horse skeleton.

External links

  • Traditional Chinese)

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