China was ruled by the Ming Dynasty from 1368 until 1644. During those 276 years there were sixteen Ming emperors. Following the collapse of the Ming Dynasty there were an additional seven Ming emperors who ruled over the so-called Southern Ming Dynasty, which ran from 1644 until execution of the last of the Southern Ming emperors eighteen years later in 1662.
Located north of Beijing are the grounds which once held the tombs of thirteen Ming Dynasty Emperors. The Ming Dynasty Tombs were ransacked and many of the tombs on the grounds were burned in 1644 by the advancing rebel army led by Li Zicheng. One of these tombs — Dingling Underground Palace — was excavated and underwent restoration completed in 1959.
Along the walkway through the grounds you’ll find many statues of government officials.
Also lining the walk are large statues of guardian animals. As you walk past the animals you’ll find them going from a standing to a kneeling posture. Chen “Jim” Mao told us that this symbolizes that even animals would bow in the presence of the emperor.
Alas, I know better. I own a cat.