The Sacred Way

Beyond the Pavilion is the Sacred Way (Shendao) lined with willows, and marble statues of 24 animals and 12 officials. The animals are the lion, camel, elephant, xiezhi (a mythological unicorn), qilin (one of the four divine animals; the other three are dragon, phoenix and tortoise) and horse. Placing marble figures as an honor guard in front of the mausoleum began in the Han Dynasty—signifying the dignity of the emperor and good fortune, and warding off evil influence. There are 4 of each animal: two standing and two squatting on either side.  

Copyright © 2008 Susan Roecker