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Forest of the Stone Steles Museum

Forest of the Stone Steles Museum

History
Forest of the Stone Steles Museum, the former Shaanxi Provincial Museum, is located in the site of the Confucian Temple in Sanxue Street, Xi'an. Tracing back to its original set-up, it was just the Imperial Aancestral Temple of Tang Dynasty. Later in the Song Dynasty, it changed into Confucian Temple when a large Confucian collection of steles cut in A.D.837- the oldest existing texts of the Confucian classics- was moved here for safekeeping.
In 1950, it was enlarged into the museum that we can see today. Specifically speaking, uare meters, the Forest of Stone Steles used to be the principal museum for Shaanxi Province since 1944. Then because of the large number of stone steles, it was officially named as the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in 1992.The different structure of the temple that distinguished lot from other Chinese temples may arouse people's doubt. For it had built up two gates facing east and west separately, but not following the traditional principle of one-way gate facing south. As a matter of fact, all the temples are opened on both the east and west sides for different meaning of courtesy and righteousness.

Composition
The temple possesses a long history of more 900 years; it houses numerous collections of the ancient stone steles of various periods that last from Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Totally more than 3,000 steles fulfilled the museum, and the contents can be divided into four categories: works of literature and philosophy, historical records, calligraphy and pictorial stones. On the whole, from the exhibition area, it also be divided into seven exhibition halls.

Exhibition Rooms
The "Kaicheng Stone Classics" composed of twelve lections engraved on 114 steles are on display in the first room, where you can find the must-read books for the intellectuals of the feudal society.
Calligraphies in Tang Dynasty, which are all masterpieces of famous calligraphers as Ou Yangxun, Wang Xizhi etc, are turn out to be great value in researching today in the second room. The most distinguished Tang stele is "the Preface to the Holy Buddhist Scriptures" in the handwriting of Wang Xizhi.
The room three has draw an outline of the development of the Chinese characters, where one can
Classify Chinese calligraphy in five basic script forms, namely: seal script, clerical script, regular script, running script and cursive script. Through more than 5,000 years of creative work various forms have constituted the abundant treasure and unique traditions of Chinese calligraphy.
The portraits of Confucius and Bodhidarma and the allegorical pictures and picture-like texts were painted on the stone in room four.
To the reference of the ancient emperors, some records of the temple building and city wall solidity of different dynasties engraved on the steles and preserved in room five.
There is no doubt that if one enjoys the poetic inscriptions, he would certainly want to go to Room Six.
Emperors, noted ministers and well-reputed calligraphers of various dynasties have left many inscriptions, some of which are shown in Room Seven.

All of these record some achievements in the development of the Chinese culture and reflect the historical facts of the cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

 


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