Mausoleum of Princess Jeonghyo

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Mausoleum of Princess Jeonghyo
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese貞孝公主墓
Simplified Chinese贞孝公主墓
Korean name

The Mausoleum of Princess Jeonghyo (known as Zhenxiao in Chinese) was made in 793 by the people of the early Balhae kingdom, and is a part of the Ancient Tombs at Longtou Mountain in Jilin, China.[1] The Mausoleum contains, among other things, the first complete discovered and detailed murals done by Balhae artists, and hence provides valuable insights to historians.


The mausoleum was marked by a rectangular pagoda, of which only the base remains.[2] The burial chamber is underground, beneath the remains of the pagoda, and was excavated in October 1980.[3] The 10.5-metre-high chamber is rectangular: 5.0 × 2.6-m, and is covered with blue-green bricks. The mounds of earth lined with stones demonstrate the continuance of Goguryeo-style tomb[1] but the formal cloth shows Tang style, which implies that Balhae actively accepted the culture of Tang.[4]

The burial chamber contains a 1.05-metre tall, 0.58-metre width × 0.26-m depth mugui-shaped (土圭) complete and unbroken granite epitaph, on which 728 Chinese characters, in the Regular Script style, are inscribed in 18 horizontal lines. The epitaph is of a typical combined written form, which contained both the chronological writings of the Princess' whole life and the remembrance writings which displayed the praise and remembrance for the Princess. The Balhae scholar - author of this epitaph was highly learned in the traditional Chinese literature and written masterpieces, reflected in the use of sentences which included poetic lines that were modeled upon some of the poets of the early Tang dynasty.

The chamber is surrounded by four murals on each wall, depicting thirteen people in action, such as warriors (3), chamber attendants, musicians, and maids, wearing red, blue, yellow, purple, and brown robes. The murals displayed the image of the Balhae people in its completeness for the first time.


The epitaph explains that Princess Jeonghyo (정효공주, 貞孝公主) is the fourth daughter of King Mun, the third ruler of Balhae. Princess Jeonghyo was also the younger sister of Princess Jeonghye (정혜공주, 貞惠公主). The epitaph shows that Balhae called the ruler of itself as an emperor equivalent to that of China.[5]

The epitaph also recorded that the Princess died on Monday, 6 July 792, during the fifty-sixth year of the Daeheung era.[6] She was accompanied in the burial at Ran Valley (染谷) in Xi Yuan (西原 or Western Plains) in the winter of 809 (已卯) (western Gregorian solar calendar Monday, 11 January 810, Chinese lunar calendar 28th day of the 11th month). She was given the posthumous name "Jeonghyo" to qualify her as virtuous and filial. She was likely a horse-rider, as the remains of a horse were found in the chamber. The epitaph recorded the year of death as 792. This corrected previous works such as Jin Yufu's (金毓黻) Book of the Balhae Kindgdom (渤海國志長編), which recorded 793 instead.

The skeletal remains were scattered all over the chamber when discovered by archaeologists, due to previous looting. However, the looters missed several golden and copper items, jewellery, pottery, and figurines. The gold ornament depicting a three stranded bird's wing is a piece of evidence demonstrating how Balhae was inherited of Goguryeo's crowns.[7] Reconstruction showed that the bones belong to a woman, presumably the princess; but there is also a male, possibly an attendant or child. In addition, there is the horse skeleton.


  1. ^ a b Lee Injae, Owen Miller, Park Jinhoon, Yi Hyun-hae, 《Korean History in Maps》, Cambridge University Press, 2014. ISBN 1107098467 p.65
  2. ^ Korea Art History Academy, "美術史學硏究", 233-236, 2002. p.59
  3. ^ Keong-il Kim, "Pioneers of Korean Studies", Joeun Munhwasa, 2004. ISBN 8971055154 p.459
  4. ^ Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, "Pre-Modern East Asia:A Cultural, Social and Political History", Cengage Learning, 2013. ISBN 1133606512 p.65
  5. ^ Korea Herald, "Korea Now", Vol.33 1-13, 2004. 32
  6. ^ Northeast History Foundation, "Journal of Northeast Asian History" Vol.4, 1-2, p.92
  7. ^ Find Challenges China's Claim to Balhae Kingdom The Chosun Ilbo, 2009-08-27, Retrieved in 2015-06-28

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