|For the most part, the Shaanxi History Museum is arranged chronologically. They do have dedicated collections, which are also arranged roughly chronologically. Within this site I have integrated the special collections into the general chronology. Although this makes comparison between different levels of sophistication in ceramics or bronze ware a mite difficult, it gives a better overall impression of an era.
The lion sculpture, shown above and on the previous page, is a replica of an enormous carved lion that stands guard in front of the Shunling Tomb of the mother of Empress Wu Zetian. The Lady Yang, or Yang Shi, died in 670 AD during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. At that time, Empress Wu had managed to move from the rank of concubine to the highest position in the palace next to the emperor. She elevated her family at the same time, expanding their titles and lands. Later, Empress Wu would become Empress Wu Zetian, the first and only woman to assume the full rank of emperor in China.
When Empress Wu Zetian declared her own dynasty (Zhou Dynasty, 690 - 705) and assumed the full title of empress, she had her mother's mausoleum renamed the Shunling Mausoleum (Shùnlíng 顺陵). The title honors the tomb and her mother. When Empress Wu Zetian died and the Tang Dynasty was restored, various emperors rescinded the name, but the local people were used to it and it stuck.
Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010