The Forest of Stele is near the
South Gate of Xi'an. It was originally built in 1090AD in the Northern
Song Dynasty. It was officially named as the Forest of Stone Steles
Museum in 1992. At the beginning it was used to store the valuable
steles of Confucian classics carved in the Tang Dynasty. With the
time passing by here collected over 2000 steles of different times
from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Now it boasts the largest
collection of its kind in China.
The contents of the Forest Steles can be divided into four groups:
works of literature and philosophy, historical records, calligraphy,
and pictorial stones. The Popular Stele of Daqin Nestorianism, which
can be recognizable by the small cross at the tip and engraved in
781AD, marks the opening of a Nestorian church. The Monk Bu Kong
Stele in Tang Dynasty is noteworthy for its Buddhist value. Collections
here are also of high value for exploring Chinese calligraphy history.
Here stand the many tablets engraved with works of many outstanding
calligraphers through ages. Chinese calligraphy boasts a long history
in five basic script forms, namely: seal script, clerical script,
regular script, running script and cursive script. Through more
than 3,000 years of creative work various forms have constituted
the abundant treasure and unique traditions of Chinese calligraphy.
The typical includes the Cao Quan Stele, written in Han clerical
script famous for its elegant, ingenious inscription; The Tang Dynasty
witnessed the prosperous period with noted distinctive styles of
regular script. The most distinguished Tang stele is "the Preface
to the Holy Buddhist Scriptures" in the handwriting of Wang
Xizhi, a famous Jin calligrapher. Some poems of calligraphy are
also collected here. Some steles carved the portrait of Confucius
with great historical Value.
The Forest of stele is the treasure house to study Chinese calligraphy