yámù 崖墓



  • yamu (Pinyin without tones)1
  • 崖墓 (Traditional Chinese)2
  • 崖墓 (Simplified Chinese)
  • yámù (Pinyin)1
  • ya-mu (Wade-Giles)
  • cliff tomb (ATTCAT preferred translation) (English)3
  • rock-cut tomb (English)4


    Cliff tombs are one of the many burial forms in traditional China. They are excavated from the hillsides and cliffs near rivers and are generally located within the Sichuan Basin in southwest China, including in Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guizhou provinces. A cliff tomb usually contains a tomb passage, a tomb door, a front chamber and one or more side halls and burial chambers. Some cliff tombs are furnished with carved stone coffins, stoves, and niches, which are architecturally integrated into the caves. Some tombs also have architectural elements resembling timber buildings and walls decorated with carved images. The burial objects are largely the same as those found in brick or stone chamber tombs from the same period (Luo 1988, Fan 2006). However, the distinction between these cliff tombs and cliff burials in more central and eastern areas of China has not been given enough academic attention.5

    Cliff tombs flourished in the Eastern Han dynasty and continued to be built into the Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern dynasties. It is generally believed that they originated with ethnically Han people, and should be distinguished from the those of indigenous non-Han ethnic minorities in the China's southwest (Yang 1942, Zheng 1944, Chen 1951). The term yamu was not used in Chinese historical records, although there are some corresponding descriptions (Lu 2004, Du 2013). In the late 19th century, scholars from Great Britain, France, and the United States began a systematic investigation of yamu using the English term “cave tombs” and the French term "les tombes de talaises"(Wylie A. 1869, 169; Baber, E.C. 1882, 201). The Chinese term yamu 崖墓 first appeared in the translation of a book from French into Chinese (Segalen 色伽蘭 1930). As the study of yamu became more popular in China, the term was translated back into English using terms such as “cliff tomb” and “rock-cut tomb.” 6

    崖墓是中國古代的墓葬形式之一,指西南地區川、渝、貴等地依山鑿崖形成墓室的一種墓葬。其基本結構一般包括墓道、墓門、前室、側廳、耳室等部分。墓室內常有利用山岩鑿就與墓穴融為一體的附屬設施,如灶台、壁龕、排水溝、石棺 (槨) 等,有的內部還有一些仿木結構建築的雕刻和其他圖像或石刻。其隨葬品與同時期的其他墓葬(磚室墓)基本相同 (羅 1988;范 2006)。但關於崖墓與其形式相似的墓葬形式如崖葬、以及中部和東部地區漢墓的區分還不夠明確。 5

    崖墓在東漢時期興盛,並延續到魏晉南北朝時期。一般認為它的族屬為漢族,與當地非漢族西南少數民族的墓葬形式應有所區分(楊 1942,鄭 1944,陳 1951)。 “崖墓”這一稱呼在歷史文獻中不曾出現,但有可與之相對應的描述。(陸 2004;杜 2013)有關崖墓的考察研究最早由歐洲學者開啟,所以其專有名稱率先出現在英文 (cave tombs) 和法文的文獻中(Wylie, A. 1869, 169; Baber, E.C. 1882, 201)。隨著這些記錄在國內學者中傳播,中文名詞“崖墓”第一次在一本由法文翻譯而來的書中出現 (色伽蘭 1930)。而後,隨著國內的崖墓研究逐漸興起,又出現了由“崖墓”翻譯成外文的名詞。6

Works Cited

Any information without attribution has been created following the Syriaca.org editorial guidelines.

  • 1 漢語大詞典編纂処. 2011. 漢語大詞典, accessed June 12, 2022.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 色伽蘭. 1930. 中國西部考古記Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 商. 1940. 四川新津等地漢崖墓磚墓考略, 1-18.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 3 RUDOLPH. 1951. Han Tomb Art of West China: a collection of first- and second-century reliefsLink to Zotero Bibliographic Record; ERICKSON. 01 JAN. 2003. Eastern Han Dynasty Cliff Tombs of Santai Xian, Sichuan Province, 401-469.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 4 LIANG. 2005. Chinese architecture: a pictorial historyLink to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 5 商. 1940. 四川新津等地漢崖墓磚墓考略, 1-18.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 罗. 1988. 四川崖墓的初步研究Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 范. 2006-4. 四川崖墓艺术Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 6 楊. 1942. 四川崖墓考略Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 鄭. 1944. 四川漢代崖墓調查Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 陳. 1951. 略述西南區的古建築及研究方向Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 陆. 2004. 渭南文集Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 杜. 2013. 录异记辑校Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; WYLIE. 1869. Notes of a Journey from Ching-Too to Hankow, 169.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; BABER. 1882. Travels and researches in western China, 201.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 色伽蘭. 1930. 中國西部考古記Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

How to Cite This Entry

ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净 et al., “ 崖墓 yámù” in Architectura Sinica last modified July 21, 2022, https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000124.


ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净 et al., “ 崖墓 yámù.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published May 16, 2020. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000124.

About this Entry

Entry Title: 崖墓 yámù

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
  • ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
  • ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, YAN Anni 嚴安妮, and REN Sijie 任思捷, entry contributors, “ 崖墓 yámù

Additional Credit:

  • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
  • Peer review by ATTCAT 2019
  • English proofreading by Aurelia Campbell Tracy Miller
  • Chinese proofreading by ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净 ZUO Lala 左拉拉
  • Data entry, adding citations SUN Zheng
  • Adding notes, bibliography, photo CHEN Zhuo 陈卓

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