Black and white photograph showing a view of the entrance to the precinct housing the tombs of the Ming emperors situated in open fields with mountains in the distance. The Tablet House stands in the middle ground flanked by a 'huabiao' column and two tall sculptures at either side. A spirit road flanked with carved stone guardian figures and animals leads to the tombs beyond.
The Ming tombs are located northwest of Peking. This view of the 'huabiao' column, memorial stele pavilion, spirit gate and spirit road is what Hedda saw after passing through the ornate marble ceremonial archway ('pailon') and Great Red Gate ('Da hong men') that marks the entrance to the tomb precinct. The spirit road is lined with pairs of figures, lions, unicorns, camels and elephants carved from stone. Once wooded, the grounds have been stripped of trees which were cut down for fuel. Today, the Ming tombs are a popular tourist destination.
This is one of a large number of photographs documenting important historic sites that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.
Exhibited in 'An Asian experience: 1933-67', organised by the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Fisher Library Foyer, University of Sydney, 12-30 May 1986. Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'A photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 217, with the caption: 'Beyond the p'ai-lou was the entrance gate proper leading to the Tablet House which contained a great stone monolith standing on the back of a tortoise. This in turn led to the Triumphal Way, an avenue lined with eighteen pairs of tombs. Nowadays, the whole area is well wooded but the vastness of the layout was perhaps best gauged in these treeless days before the revolution of 1949 when trees survived only in the actual tomb precincts.'
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992