Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King

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Coordinates: 23°8′25.36″N 113°15′22.15″E / 23.1403778°N 113.2561528°E / 23.1403778; 113.2561528

Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King.JPG
Established 1988
Location Guangzhou, China
Type Mausoleum

The Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King (Chinese: 西汉南越王博物馆; pinyin: Xī Hàn Nányuè Wáng Bówùguăn; literally: "Western Han Nanyue King Museum") houses the 2,000-year-old tomb of the Nanyue King Zhao Mo in Guangzhou, China. Zhao Mo ruled from 137 BC to 122 BC, and his tomb was discovered in downtown Guangzhou in 1983. The museum, which opened in 1988, showcases the tomb and its complete trove of artifacts. It was named a Major National Historical Site in 1996 and is renown for its rare assemblage of funerary artifacts representing the diffusion of cultures throughout the Lingnan region during the Han dynasty.


The mausoleum and museum complex occupies an area of 17,400 m2 (187,000 sq ft).[1] Hidden 20 meters (65.6 feet) underground, the tomb is made up of 750 huge stones with colorful murals. The over 1,000 pieces of cultural relics, bronzeware and terra cotta ware in particular, feature the Yue Culture of south China (Nanyue Culture). Represented also are traces of central Chinese culture, the Chu culture of south China, the Bashu culture of southwest China, the culture from the northern grassland, and even foreign cultures.

The tomb was discovered in 1983 and the museum opened in 1988.[2] It is 20 meters under Xianggang Shan (Elephant Hill) in Guangzhou on a construction site for a hotel, and was excavated. The tomb is nearly 11 meters long and over 12 meters wide. It is divided in seven parts, with a front chamber, east and west wing rooms, the main coffin chamber, east and west side rooms, and a back storage chamber.


Bronze tiger inlaid with gold, inscribed 王命車徒 "The king orders the carriage to move"
Đông Sơn bronze jar from the mausoleum

The tomb has yielded more than 1,000 burial artifacts, a chariot, gold and silver vessels, musical instruments, and human sacrifices were found (15 courtiers were buried alive with him to serve him in death). It is also among the only tombs of the early Western Han dynasty that has murals on its walls.

The tomb also excavated an imperial seal, belonging to that of "Emperor Wen" (Wen-di), indicating that he considered himself equal in rank to the Han ruler.

Alongside Chinese artifacts, pieces from the steppes, and Iranian and Hellenistic Central Asian regions have been found: a Persian silver box found in the tomb is the earliest imported product found to date in China. There were artifacts that were found in which belonged to the Đông Sơn culture of northern Vietnam.

A silk-jade garment made up of 2,291 pieces of jade is the spotlight of the mausoleum. It is acknowledged that jade garments with pieces connected by gold, silver, or copper are not uncommon. But this garment is unique for its jade pieces connected by silk which makes it the only one of its kind in the world. Nor are historical records available to verify other jade garments connected by silk thread. In addition, the style of buttons down the front is unique among unearthed jade garments. This silk-sewn-jade garment shows the early development of jade garments as well as development of the Nanyue culture.[3]


The museum is located at 867 Jiefang Rd. in Yuexiu District in central Guangzhou.[1] It is accessible by bus routes 7, 29, 33, 203, 211, 273, 543, and 552, and by Metro Line 2 to the Yuexiu Park (Exit E).[1]

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