Yao’s Tomb

December 13th, 2008

It’s not all severe pollution and corruption in Linfen. For such a small, out-of-the-way, notorious amongst those who know of it city, Linfen has played a pretty huge role in Chinese history. Yao, for example, is buried there, and his tomb has just finished phase 1 of its renovations:


“First among the tombs of the three wise kings and five august emperors, favoured by hundreds of generations over thousands of years.” On the morning of 9 December, in front of the gate of Yao’s Tomb in Guoxing Village in the mountains in the east of Linfen City, there was the deafening sound of gongs and drums, a sea of people, banners fluttered. After 20 months of arduous efforts, the phase one of the Yao’s Tomb project was complete.

And you know what? Having just spent an absurd amount of time wading through a terrible translation of the rest of the article, I decided not to inflict it on you. It was difficult to read, and if you think I did a horrible job on that first paragraph (and you’d be right, that is an awful translation), let me assure you the rest was even harder to translate. Let’s just say what they’ve accomplished so far is only the first step in a project in which 460 million yuan will be invested into turning Yao’s Tomb into a seriously major tourist destination by 2012, and that first phase, which commenced on April 3, 2007 and was completed earlier this month, cost 60 million yuan and involved construction of buildings, roads, dam-like things to protect the tomb from the ravages of the Lao River, and a bridge; greening- i.e. the planting of 50,000 plants, flower beds, hedgerows, and probably a whole lot of other stuff I’ve forgotten and am too lazy to remind myself of.

And on my short little trip to Linfen and Yuncheng back in early November, I was left with the impression that the local governments are working really hard to move beyond heavily-polluting heavy industry and develop their cities, and especially to develop that wealth of history Shanxi is endowed with into some serious tourism.

And who was Yao? One of the legendary rulers of pre-Xia Dynasty China.

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