Stone Animals Along the Approaches to the Ming Tombs
Photograph by John Thomson
Open air sculptures representing reclining
camels in the foreground and, in the distance, elephants. A man
leaning against the foremost camel sculpture, holding a pipe;
probably one of Thomson's two Chinese assistants, Akum or Ahong.
The road is called the Spirit Road (Shendao), and leads to the
tombs of 13 Ming emperors (Shisanling), starting with Yongle
(1403-1425). Changling is approached first through an avenue
protected by animals carved from limestone. Each species comprises
two pairs, a kneeling pair and a standing one. There are 24
species, ranging from lions and unicorns to camels, elephants and
'qilin' (one of the four divine animals). All wear expressions of
tranquil repose, "thoroughly in keeping with their duty as the
guardians of the dead".