The Official Website of the People’s Government of Hunan Province Mobile 中文 Français 한국어 日本語

15 July 2015

Humanities & Landscape

The Mausoleum of Emperor Yan

(Photo source:


The Chinese people are proud of being descendants of Emperor Yan and Emperor Huang, who respectively ruled the Yangtse River valley and Yellow River about 5,000 years ago. They both made great contributions to their primitive tribes and are looked on as the revered ancestors of the whole nation. According to legend, Emperor Yan "invented"spade-shaped plough, taught his people how to do farm work, tasted various herbs, made medicines, wove hempen cloth and set up markets." 


Late in his life, he continued to serve his people by treating their diseases and, unfortunately, died from tasting poisonous herbs in Ling County. Admiring his merits and virtues, his posterity built the Ancestral Temple to Emperor Yan at his burial mound in 967. Since then, in important ceremonials, sovereigns of every later dynasty would always tell envoys to visit the temple and offer sacrifices. Ruined several times in wars, it was rebuilt in the Qing dynasty (1616-1911). Yet, in 1954, it was burnt down. In October, 1985, the provincial government appropriated a large sum of money and ordered the construction of the Mausoleum of Emperor Yan at the former site in Ling County. Now it has been a sacred place where the Chinese people pay homage to their ancestor. 


The front gate is called the Meridian Gate since our ancestor enjoys supremacy even unchallenged by sovereigns. It is flanked by partitioned rooms that house dozens of steles inscribed with funeral orations of various dynasties. Beyond the gate, the vermillion steps lead to the Salute Pavillion, where worshipers are supposed to stop and give a salute before entering the main hall. Behind the pavillion unfolds three marble ramps carved in relief with patterns of invertwining clouds and dragons. They are fixed between six flights of marble steps that climb up the three-tiered terrace. High on the terrace stands the main hall, a finely decorated building with a hipped and gabled roof of double eaves. It houses a golden statue of Emperor Yan siting behind a basket of crops, with a bunch of rice ears in the left hand and a medicinal herb in the right hand. Behind the hall is a pavilion, in which the grave stone is erected; and further on, the resting place of our revered ancestor lies in the rear of the courtyard. These major buildings, distributed one after another along the central axis, are symmetrically flanked by minor buildings, such as the Sage-Worshiping Temple the Loft Virtues Archway, the Animal- Sacrificing Pavilion and the Harvest-Singing Terrace. 


Surrounded by towering old trees, the mausoleum seems all the more stately and splendid, with the golden roofs flashing brilliantly in the sun and the purple walls occasionally from behind the lush trees.


Emperor Yan's Mausoleum Acclaimed as "Excellent International Tourist Attraction in Hunan" in 2013 


The award ceremony of the "Excellent International Tourist Attraction in Hunan" was held at the scenic area of Mausoleum of Emperor Yan on June 4. It is learnt that there are 32 scenic spots won the title and the Mausoleum of Emperor Yan is the only one in Zhuzhou. 


In recent years, the scenic area has been working to forge a brand name of "a holy land for Chinese humanity & spiritual land of all Chinese" by propelling its tourism projects development in view of overall arrangement of the general situation, enhancing tourism resources integration, establishing a marketing system for tourist publicity, and promoting its tourism management service. The scenic area successfully held three Cross-Strait Shennong (Emperor Yan) Cultural Festivals and the public memorial ceremonies for Emperor Yan by Hunan governors. It honored as a national scenic area and the Sacrificial Ceremony for Emperor Yan is listed as the World's Ten Most Influential Root-pro Cultural Events. 


Emperor Yan Worship Ceremony Held in 2017 

A memorial worship ceremony for Yan Emperor, who is regarded as the ancestor of all the Chinese, was held at Yan Emperor Mausoleum, Yanling County, Zhuzhou City on April 2, two days before the Qingming Holiday. 


Guests from all walks of life gathered on the Quemen Square to participate in the ancestor worship ceremony. The ceremony began at 9:28 AM. Young men in ancient costume solemnly placed offerings on the altar. At the front of the main hall, a chorus of nearly 1,000 sang "Worshiping Yan Emperor" to pay tribute to the great man. At 10:28, dragon and lion dances were performed on Yeling Square. Guests proceeded across the Meridian Gate and then ascended stairs to the Salute Pavilion, the Yan Emperor Mausoleum Palace, and the Tombstone Pavilion. They bowed three times in homage to Yan Emperor before placing burning incense in incense holders.


The "Yan Emperor Worshiping Ceremony" has become a comprehensive cultural carrier integrating music, dance, and literature. In 2006, the ceremony was among China’s first batch of national intangible cultural heritage items. In 2012, the "Ancestor Worship Ceremony at Yan Emperor’s Mausoleum" was rated as one of the "Top Ten, Most Influential, Cultural Events of Searching for Family Root in the World".


Translator: Xiao Juan


Chinese source:

Updated on November 1, 2018