Xian Steles Museum
The Xian Steles Museum, which used to be a holy temple of Confucius, is now a tranquil place in typical Chinese style.
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Established in 1090 during the Northern Song Dynasty, the Stele Forest in Xi’an is known worldwide for a fine collection of more than 1,000 inscribed stone monuments engraved during the period from the Han to the Qing dynasties for more than 2,000 years.
The Stele Forest in Xi’an is not only a treasure house of ancient Chinese calligraphy, but also a rich collection of China’s historical documents and records and stone carving patterns. These Steles record a part of the great achievements of the Chinese culture and a testimony to the cultural exchanges between China and other parts of the world.
The museum, which used to be a holy temple of Confucius, is now a tranquil place in typical Chinese style. The stone tablets, whose ages range from 4,000 years to the 20th century, were collected over the past 900 years from around China. Standing in the museum’s first Exhibition room, the monument to Christianity tells a story in silence. For archaeologists, steles are reliable storytellers. With nearly 10,000 Steles in the collection, the museum is like an encyclopedia of ancient China.
Chinese, as the only ancient writing system that is still alive today, makes it possible for readers to understand astonishing stories for hundreds and thousands of years ago. The stories the Stele tell include one of surprising popularity Christianity held in the ancient kingdom. In 635, a gallant missionary known as A-Lo-Pen., reached a grand city in the Middle Kingdom after a tortuous expedition along the Silk Road, the land passage that linked Asia with Europe. The zealous missionary’s destination was called Chang’an (today’s Xi’an). At that time, the famous metropoles and four times bigger than the city that stands in its place today. In the 14th century Chang’an changed its name to Xi’an. Chang’an occupied the same position in Asia that Madrid did in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. This golden age allowed foreign missionaries like A-Lo-Pen to bring a completely new world of Christian culture to China, which was considered a unique and secret empire in the West. In the same period the Chinese named the Roman Empire Ta Qin (大秦). Ancient Chinese believed that the Roman empire (established in 27 BC) was coincident with the Qin Dynasty, and people from the Roman empire were taller than their Chinese counterparts, hence the name Ta Ch’in (Big Qin) Therefore, the Holy Bible was translated into elegant ancient Chinese prose, and nobles and ordinary Chinese by means of “borrowing” expressions from Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, the three pillars of Chinese civilization for thousands of years, interpreted the holy doctrines of Christianity. In ancient Chinese empire the emperor played a key role in cultural communication. Taizong (599-649, reigned 626-649) in the Tang Dynasty, a ruler who had an international outlook, made his Dynasty powerful both with his military maneuvers and his mastery of culture and literature. Later missionaries carved a more detailed description of the historical meeting 146 years later on a large stone slab. According to the monument, A-Lo-Pen preached about God and his doctrines to the emperor and his ministers. He must have been a man of special wisdom because he illuminated the words of the Holy Bible in spite of the language barrier, reflects Fred Aprim. And the Chinese, in turn, praised him as a man of wisdom by comparing him to Lao Tze (c.604-531 BC), a great philosopher and patriarch of polytheistic Taoism. His lofty theories became a belief system that consists of alchemy, astrology, and the worship of a pantheon of idols.
Exhibition Room One deals with the text of the twelve Confucian classics engraved on stones in 837. These twelve classics were required readings for intellectuals of the Chinese feudal society. Because carved plate printing was not yet common use, in order to avoid errors made in copying the classics by men of letters, the twelve classics containing 650,000 characters were thus engraved on 114 pieces of stones. Exhibition Room Two displays Steles of calligraphy inscribed by many famous calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) such as Ouyang Xun 欧阳询 (557-641), Yu Shinan 虞世南 (558-638), Chu Suiliang 褚遂良 (596-658 or 659), Li Yangbing 李阳冰，Yan Zhengqing 颜真卿 (708-784), Liu Gongquan 柳公权 (778-865), Zhang Xu 张旭, Huai Su 怀素 (725-785 or 737-799), Zhi Yong 智永, Li Longji 李隆基(685-762), Shi Weize史维则. Exhibition Room Three contains the Steles from the Han to the Song dynasties inscribed with a fine variety of calligraphy, including seal characters, official script, regular script, and running hand and cursive hand. These Steles vividly describe the evolution of the Chinese writing system. Exhibition Room Four shows the works of poetry in the authentic handwriting of the famous calligraphers from the Song to the Qing dynasties.
No wonder people accredit the Forest of Steles as the “cradle of Calligraphy and birthplace of Stele engravings.” 难怪人们赞誉西安碑林是“书法的摇篮，碑刻的故乡”。
The Four Most Famous Stele Forests in China 中国四大著名碑林
There are four most famous Stele forests in China. They are the Stele Forest in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province陕西省西安碑林, the Stele Forest of the Confucian Temple, in Qufu, Shandong Province 山东省曲阜孔庙碑林, Xichang Earthquake Stele Forest, Sichuan Province 四川省西昌地震碑林, and South Gate Stele Forest in Gaoxiong, Taiwan Province 台湾省高雄市南门碑林。
More About Xian
- Huaqing Hot Spring
is situated about 25 kilometers away in the northeast of Xian.
- Terracotta Warriors
And The Mausoleum Of Emperor Qin Shihuang.
- Xian Scenic Spots
Xian Is Full Of Scenic Spots.
- Xian Steles Museum
The , which used to be a holy temple of Confucius, is now a tranquil place in typical Chinese style.