Fragrant Lady's Tomb
The Fragrant Lady's Tomb is 5 kilometers away east from Kashi, Singkiang.
In Uigur it is called "Apahoga Mausoleum" with the legendary story to have The Fragrant Lady's Tomb, who was deeply loved by Emperor Qianlong of the Ch'ing Dynasty, sleep inside silently.
In China the tomb is better known as the Tomb of Xiang Fei, the only Uigur concubine among the 41 wives of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Legend has it that Iparhan, a descendant of Abakh Khoja, exuded an enchanting fragrance without using any perfume, hence the name Xiang Fei (Fragrant concubine in Chinese). She spent 28 years beside the emperor in Beijing, abiding strictly by Islamic doctrines. She wore ethnic costumes and was waited on by a special chef. Before her death at 55 she expressed her desire to be buried in her hometown of Turpan. The emperor so loved her that he had her coffin of clothes sent back to where it is now. This cost 124 people three years and a half. The ancient cart carrying the coffin of Xiangfei still stands in front of the mausoleum, adding a touch of mystery to the building. According to archeological findings, the authentic tomb of Xiang Fei is in the East Qing Tomb near Beijing.
Resembling an imposing and luxuriant palace, tomb of Xiang imperial concubine is 40 meters high and composed of five parts namely arch over gateway, small mosque, big mosque, religious scripture preaching hall and host coffin chamber. There is an exquisite gallery on curved dome roof on the top of which locates a gold crescent, solemnly glittering and creating an awe-inspiring atmosphere. In the broad and spacious hall of the tomb, is a platform of half person high. On this platform there are 58 graves in proper order for 72 people of five generations in Xiang imperial concubine's family. Xiang's grave is set up in the northeast corner on this platform, in front of which her name is written both in Chinese and Uigur. Grave mounds are all wrapped up with blue glass bricks. They are covered by cloth with various patterns and figures. This expresses an honor to the dead and meanwhile protects graves. On the left of grave are built big and small Islamic mosques which are delicate. Behind the tomb there is a large sheet of grave, with a very grand sight.
Emperor Qianlong's beloved Xiang imperial concubine, originally called Maimure Aizimu is famous in the Qing Dynasty. Her body has a special fragrance when she was still young. So she is called "Yipaerhan" ("a fragrant girl" in Uigur). She is chosen to be the imperial concubine by emperor in Qing dynasty and bestowed the title of "Xiang (fragrant) Imperial Concubine". She finally died of discomfort caused by natural environment and climate in capital city. According to popular sayings the Qing emperor orders 124 people lift up the coffin for her. It takes 3 years to bring her corpse back home to be buried there. But today's research shows that her tomb is just in Qingong Tomb in Hebei. Xiang imperial concubine grave is just her tomb containing some personal clothes and other wearing.
Apahuojia grave which has experienced more than three hundred years' trials and hardships, unyieldingly and firmly sticks to its own unsophisticated architectural style. Among visitors coming here, some want to feel the mystery of Xiang imperial concubine, some for worshiping but most come to appreciate excellent architectural technology and artistic style of Apahuojia grave. Tomb of Xiang imperial concubine is a popular name for grave of Apahuojia clan. It is a typical Islamic grave building of palace style. 72 tombs of the same clan with glass tile cover of white background dotted with orchid are here. The first generation is Islamic missionary Aji Maihemaiti.Yusufuhuojia. After his death, his eldest son Apahuojia takes over his mantle and continues doing missionary work. He once won the hereditary regime of the Yeerqiang dynasty and governed Kashgar, Yeerqiang (now Shache), Hetian city, Akesu, Kuche, and Turfan during his peak period. He accepted the title of "governor of the world" and became the Islamic chief of Baishan (white hill) sect in 17th century. After his death the grave is renamed Apahuojia grave. Xiang imperial concubine is his granddaughter.
Emperor Qianlong's Xiang imperial concubine is called Rong imperial concubine, whose original name is Yipaerhan. It is said that her body has a rich fragrance of olive flower therefore she is called so. According to the legend, Xiang died of depression. After her death, Emperor Qianlong order 66,666 people attend her funeral team. The coffin was being lifted up and sent back to hometown, which is not allowed to fall to the ground. When the coffin arrived in Kashi there were only six people left. This certainly is only a legend. According to the records she has lived in the palace for 28 years, died at 53 and then is buried in Yu imperial concubine garden of Qingdong tomb in Hebei. The legend tells that Xiang imperial concubine's elder brother has spent 3 years and half carrying her things from Beijing and burying them in the northeast corner of this mausoleum hall. Thus in tomb of Xiang imperial concubine is only her clothes and other wearing.
The Fragrant Lady's Tomb, built with a full-bodied traditional Uigur architectural style in 1640 and come with an area about 30 mu (Chinese unit of area). It comprises the water pool, the gate, the chapel, the main grave, the bethel, and the garden.
Its front entrance is a magnificent gate with huge brick columns on both sides. Joined to the west wall of the gate, a small mosque sits quietly with a colored drawing sunshade and a prayer room at the back. However, these are not all, in the west area of the tomb there still has a big mosque and a scripture hall with an arch vault.
The main grave face south inside the tomb. The rectangular body of the grave covered with an arch coping is 36 meters wide, 29 meters long and 2.7 meters high with huge half embedded brick columns on four sides. Each column has a delicate cylinders tower named "the summons tower", on top there are iron meniscus mounts on the tip of the tower.
The umbrella-arched coping of the grave was built by glazed bricks and has a meniscus on the top. The surrounding walls were covers with green glazed bricks on the surface and inlays of yellow or blue ceramic tiles. The ceramic tiles have colored patterns and some even record Islamic aphorism in Arabic or Farsi.
The hall of the tomb is so grand that there are 58 coffins on the central platform. Each coffin covered with simple but elegant blue-patterned glazed bricks of white background. The coffins of Mymyti Usuropehoga, Apahoga, Yeheyarhoga (the eldest son of Apaho), etc. are larger and decorated better than others are.
The legendary Fragrant Lady's Tomb just sleeps on the right side of the front line and tends to keep away from the highlight of the grave, as her coffin has not any special decoration.
In fact, this grave is not the real tomb of the Fragrant Lady but is the graveyard having buried 72 members of her family from her ancestor Aki Mymyti Usuropehoga through 5 generations. During the interim from the Ming Dynasty to the Ch'ing Dynasty, Aki Mymyti Usuropehoga was known as a famous Islamic missionary in the Kashi region.
Though some says this is not the tomb of the Fragrant Lady but the graveyard of her kindred, this place is still a tourist attraction shaded by green old trees and reflected in the clear water. Everyone visiting here will bail some water and take it home for not only him but also presenting to relatives or friends. People said that you could luck up as you drink the water. The local believers have been keeping the tradition of fetching the water.
Besides the above interesting tale, Kashi is also a colorful city worth touring.
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