The Resting Places of Kings and Queens - Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

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The Joseon royal tombs are a collection of 40 tombs built from 1408 to 1966 in which 27 generations of Joseon kings and queens are buried. They have been well preserved and demonstrate Confucian values, funerary culture, geomancy, and architecture of the Joseon dynasty. They were selected as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2013.

Tombs played an important role in Joseon society, which was based on Confucianism. Ancestral rituals, which honored the dead, were held multiple times a year. The spirits of the deceased were believed to come back to their tombs during these rituals, and therefore, the tombs needed to be located in auspicious and beautiful locations and maintained in good condition in order to please the spirits. This was more so the case for royal tombs.

The royal tombs are located some distance outside the walls of the Joseon capital, Hanyang, but still within Gyeonggi-do Province (with one exception - the tomb of King Danjong in Yeongwol, Gangwon-do). Their locations were selected based on geomancy – in remote areas with mountains to the back and sides and flowing water to the front. The mound-shaped tombs were located atop a hill and surrounded by trees to protect them from the elements. There are various kinds of tombs styles which were chosen in harmony with the surrounding environment: single tomb (a single mound for a king or queen), twin tomb (king next to queen), triplet tomb (king and two queens), combined tomb (king and queen(s) buried in same mound), or two or three ridge tomb (tombs on adjacent hills sharing a ritual house), and upper and lower tombs (two tombs with one located higher up on the hill than the other). Each tomb has its own name ending in “-neung” or “-reung,” which means “royal tomb."

A royal tomb has two sections: the burial area and the ritual area. The burial area is located in the back of the complex on a hill, while the ritual area is located in the front, below the hill. The burial area includes the burial mound, a stone platform, a stone lantern, and stone figures of various animals, all surrounded by a low wall in the back and sides. Just below this are two rows of stone statues of civil and military officials and their horses. The ritual area includes a spiked, red entrance gate, a T-shaped ritual house, and various auxiliary buildings. The ritual house has a window along its back wall, through which the burial area can be seen as someone performs a ritual bow.

Locations of the Royal Tombs


Number Name Entombed Person(s) Generation Date of Construction Type
01 Paju Samneung Gongneung (恭陵) Queen Jangsun (Yejong's 1st Queen) 08 1461, 1471 (Invested as royal tomb) Single
Sunneung (順陵) Queen Gonghye (Seongjong's 1st Queen) 09 1474 Single
Yeongneung (永陵) King Jinjo and Queen Hyosun Honorary King: 1728, Queen: 1751, 1776 (Invested as royal tomb) Twin
02 Paju Jangneung Jangneung (長陵) King Injo and Queen Innyeol (Injo's 1st Queen) 16 1731 (Moved to current site) Combined
03 Gimpo Jangneung Jangneung (章陵) King Wonjong and Queen Inheon Honorary King: 1627 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1626, 1632 (Invested as royal tomb) Twin
04 Goyang Seooerung Changneung (昌陵) King Yejong and Queen Ansun (Yejong's 2nd Queen) 08 King: 1470, Queen: 1499 Two ridge
Gyeongneung (敬陵) King Deokjong and Queen Sohye Honorary King: 1457, Queen: 1504 Two ridge
Myeongneung (明陵) King Sukjong and Queen Inheon (Sukjong's 2nd Queen); Queen Inwon (Sukjong's 3rd Queen) 19 King: 1720, 2nd Queen: 1701, 3rd Queen: 1757 Two ridge (Twin and single)
Ingneung (翼陵) Queen Ingyeong (Sukjong's 1st Queen) 19 1680 Single
Hongneung (弘陵) Queen Jeongseong (Yeongjo's 1st Queen) 21 1757 Single
05 Yangju Onneung Onneung (溫陵) Queen Dangyeong (Jungjong's 1st Queen) 11 1557, 1739 (Invested as royal tomb) Single
06 Goyang Seosamneung Huireung (禧陵) Queen Janggyeong (Jungjong's 2nd Queen) 11 1537 (Moved to current site) Single
Hyoreung (孝陵) King Injong and Queen Injeong 12 King: 1545, Queen: 1578 Twin
Yereung (睿陵) King Cheoljong and Queen Cheorin 25 King: 1864, Queen: 1878 Twin
07 Seong Jeongneung Jeongneung (貞陵) Queen Sindeok (Taejo's 2nd Queen) 01 1409 (Moved to current site) Single
08 Seoul Taereung and Gangneung Taereung (泰陵) Queen Munjeong (Jungjong's 3rd Queen) 11 1565 Single
Gangneung (康陵) King Myeongjong and Queen Insun 13 King: 1567, Queen: 1575 Twin
09 Seong Uireung Uireung(懿陵) King Gyeongjong and Queen Seonui (Gyeongjong's 2nd Queen) 20 King: 1724, Queen: 1730 Upper and lower
10 Guri Donggureung Geonweonneung (健元陵) King Taejo 01 1408 Single
Hyeongneung(顯陵) King Munjong and Queen Hyeondeok 05 King: 1452, Queen: 1513 (Moved to current site) Two ridge
Mongneung (穆陵) King Seonjo and Queen Uiin (Seonjo's 1st Queen); and Queen Inmok (Seonjo's 2nd Queen) 14 King: 1630 (Moved to current site), 1st Queen: 1600, 2nd Queen: 1632 Three ridge (all single)
Hwireung (徽陵) Queen Jangnyeol (Injo's 2nd Queen) 16 1688 Single
Sungneung (崇陵) King Hyeonjong and Queen Myeongseong 18 King: 1674, Queen: 1684 Twin
Hyereung (惠陵) Queen Danui (Gyeongjong's 1st Queen) 20 1718, 1720 (Invested as royal tomb) Single
Wonneung (元陵) King Yeongjo and Queen Jeongsun (Yeongjo's 2nd Queen) 21 King: 1776, Queen: 1805 Twin
Sureung (綏陵) King Munjo and Queen Sinjeong Honorary King: 1855 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1890 Combined
Gyeongreung (景陵) King Heonjong, Queen Hyohyeon (Heonjong's 1st Queen), and Queen Hyojeong (Heonjong's 2nd Queen) 24 King: 1849, 1st Queen: 1843, 2nd Queen: 1904 Triplet
11 Seoul Seonneung and Jeongneung Seonneung (宣陵) King Seongjong and Queen Jeonghyeon (Seongjong's 2nd Queen) 09 King: 1495, Queen: 1530 Two ridge
Jeongneung (靖陵) King Jungjong 11 1562 (Moved to current site) Single
12 Seoul Heonneung and Inneung Heonneung (獻陵) King Taejong and Queen Wongyeong 03 King: 1422, Queen: 1420 Twin
Inneung (仁陵) King Sunjo and Queen Sunwon 23 King: 1856 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1857 Combined
13 Namyangju Gwangneung Gwangneung (光陵) King Sejo and Queen Jeonghui 07 King: 1468, Queen: 1483 Two ridge
14 Namyangju Sareung Sareung (思陵) Queen Jeongsun (Danjong's Queen) 06 1531, 1698 (Invested as royal tomb) Single
15 Namyangju Hongneung and Yureung Hongneung (洪陵) Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong 26 Emperor: 1919, Empress: 1919 (Moved to current site) Combined
Yureung (裕陵) Emperor Sunjong, Empress Sunmyeong (Sunjong's 1st Empress), Empress Sunjeong (Sunjong's 2nd Empress) 27 Emperor: 1926, 1st Empress: 1926 (Moved to current site), 2nd Empress: 1966 Combined
16 Hwaseong Yungneung and Geonneung Yungneung (隆陵) King Jangjo and Queen Heongyeong Honorary King: 1789 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1815, 1899 (Invested as royal tomb) Combined
Geonneung(健陵) King Jeongjo and Queen Hyoui 22 King: 1821 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1821 Combined
17 Yeoju Yeongneung and Yeongneung Yeongneung (英陵) King Sejong and Queen Soheon 04 1469 (Moved to current site) Combined
Yeongneung (寧陵) King Hyojong and Queen Inseon 17 King: 1673 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1674 Upper and lower
18 Yeongwol Jangneung Jangneung (莊陵) King Danjong 06 1698 (Invested as royal tomb) Single
Located in Present-day North Korea Jereung (齊陵) Queen Sinui (Taejo's 1st Queen) 01 1391, 1392 (Invested as royal tomb) Single
Hureung (厚陵) King Jeongjong and Queen Jeongan 02 King: 1420, Queen: 1412 Twin
Misc. Tomb of Yeonsangun King Yeonsangun and Queen Geochang 10 King: 1512 (Moved to current site), Queen: 1537 Twin
Tomb of Gwanghaegun King Gwanghaegun and Queen Munseong 15 King: 1641, Queen: 1623 Twin

Related Articles

References

  • Koehler, Robert. 2011. Joseon's Royal Heritage: 500 Years of Splendor. Seoul Selection. p. 56-71.