The Western Xia imperial tombs were built for rulers of the Western Xia dynasty, which is also known as the Tangut empire. The Tanguts were non-Han people who spoke a Tibeto-Burman language. Originally nomadic, they settled in the area of modern-day
The Western Xia tombs are spectacular pyramid-shaped structures set on a gentle slope along the east base of the
The complex of mausoleums and secondary structures on this site is unique. The short round and octagonal tombs are overlaid with glazed green tiles and resemble traditional Buddhist Pagodas. The walls of the various terraces were once painted a vivid red, contrasting with the leafy green mausoleums. Each main tomb was flanked by four corner towers, watchtowers, a sacrificial hall, a coffin platform and pavilions housing stone tablets. Unfortunately many of the features are now eroded beyond recognition. The mausoleums supposed to be those of Li Jiqian and Li Demin (early Tangut rulers), are the most prominent and are reasonably well preserved.
Watchtowers, stone gates, halls furnished in the style of Imperial bedrooms and tall pagodas were once dotted about the complex and can be seen in their partially decayed glory. Sections of the road system used to get around the area are still in place. Bronze oxen, stone horses, gold belts, gilt saddle fittings, gilt amour plates, gilt silverware, bamboo carvings and other sacrificial objects have been found in the tombs in varying stages of preservation.
An absolute must-see! When you visit these tombs during the off-season, you most likely have the entire site to yourself. The tomb is impressive because of it's pyramid-like shape, and you can see a number of other similar tombs in the distance which aren't open to the public. The backdrop of the Helan Mountains is also quite breathtaking. When you're here, make sure to go into the accompanying museum. It displays artefacts uncovered from the tombs and tells you about the history of the Xia Empire and what the tombs originally looked like. There are a lot of souvenir and antique sellers waiting near the entrance but these are all fake and over-priced so don't give in to temptation and buy them!