Luoyang Ancient Art Museum, formerly known as Luoyang Ancient Tomb Museum, is China's first museum to display ancient tombs. It is located on Mount Mang in the northern suburb of Luoyang. An old saying goes that one should be born in Suzhou or Hangzhou but buried in Mount Mang. It is because Suzhou and Hangzhou are widely accepted as the most beautiful cities and best places to live while Mount Mang, on the contrary, has been considered an ideal resting place for the deceased according to fengshui rules since ancient time. The Chinese believe if the ancestors are buried in a place with good fengshui, their descendants will be blessed and have a prosperous and happy life. So they select the final resting places very carefully. The local people in Luoyang often say that there is very limited space on Mount Mang because it is densely scattered with tombs of Luoyang people.
The exhibitions of the museum follow three themes: Northern Wei dynasty (386AD-557AD) tombs, ancient tombs of other dynasties and ancient murals. Entrance fee is free. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays.
Northern Wei Dynasty Tombs
Northern Wei dynasty was founded by Xianbei people, an ancient ethnic minority in the north of China. Luoyang was its capital since 490AD. The current buildings on the ground are replicas of ancient buildings in Northern Wei dynasty. The most important exhibition in the area is the underground tomb of Emperor Xuanwu of Northern Wei dynasty (483AD-515AD). It is called Jing Mausoleum. The underground tomb includes the entry passage and the chamber. At the entrance of the chamber, there stand two stone guardians. And in the middle of the chamber, there is a stone coffin. The tomb had been robbed before it was excavated so the artifacts unearthed were very limited. Other exhibitions include the tombs of Prince Qinghe Wenxian (487AD-520AD) and Prince Jiangyang (?-525AD), which were relocated to the current place after they were discovered. The former one has a painting of the sky on the ceiling of its chamber, on which there are more than 300 stars, connected by lines and the Milky Way stretches from the north to the south. Researchers say this picture of stars is 400 years earlier than the star map discovered in Dunhuang, which was brought to the Great Britain by Marc Aurel Stein and is now displayed in the British Museum. Dunhuang star map was composed in between 705AD-710AD.
A lot of murals have been discovered in the ancient tombs in Luoyang. These murals date back to several dynasties including Western Han (202BC-9AD), Wei (220AD-266AD), Jin (266AD-420AD), Tang (618AD-907AD), Song (960AD-1279AD), and Yuan (1271AD-1368AD), etc. The owners of the tombs vary from emperors and their consorts, high ranking officials to their lower ranking counterparts and civilians. The murals feature clear lines and diverse themes covering astronomy, geography, human affairs and immortal beings. It is indeed a great encyclopedia for Chinese history.
Ancient Tombs of Different Dynasties
The exhibitions here include 25 tombs dating from Western Han dynasty to Song dynasty. All of them were relocated from their original places to the museum. These tombs take on different architectural styles, reflecting the art of Chinese ancient architecture. Totally 597 artifacts were unearthed from them, such as household utensils, Tang dynasty tri-colored pottery, epigraphs, frescos, etc. All these showcase the rich and colorful Chinese ancient art.
Besides, there are also side halls holding displays like models of typical tombs in Shang (1600BC-1046BC) and Zhou dynasties (1046BC-256BC), statues of funeral rituals for emperors in Western and Eastern Han dynasties and statues of funeral rituals for civilians in the beginning of the Republic of China (1912-1949).