“…climbed a tree & got a yellow dragon facing tile off a wall, all the buildings are roofed with them…” so reads Percy Cotton’s journal on 4 April 1891. He was visiting the tomb of Emperor Chang Ling, one of the Ming Emperors (1368-1664) buried at the tomb complex, about 26 miles north of Beijing. At that time all the tombs, which were built to resemble palaces with halls and large courtyards, were in a state of disrepair. Today two have been restored and are on the tourist trail for visitors to China.

Percy was in China as part of his ‘World Trip’ between 1889-1891. He visited all the most famous sites and attractions, just as we would now. It is interesting to compare his descriptions of monuments and landscapes to how they look today – something museum staff have done as they have undertaken their own travels!