Preserved arts reveal wisdom

By LI YANG and HUO YAN ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-10-06 11:58:26

Preserved arts reveal wisdom

Works by Zhao Mengfu, a calligrapher in the Song Dynasty. HUO YAN/CHINA DAILY

In Xi'an, Shaanxi province, the city that served as the capital for thirty dynasties in Chinese history, locals regard the Forest of Stele Museum as a source of their city's spiritual aura.

The museum was built by the central authority in the early Song Dynasty (960-1279) in a Confucian temple. It houses more than 11,000 pieces of cultural relics dating from the Han Dynasty (205 BC-AD 220) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), contributed by imperial courts since the Song Dynasty.

About 3,000 pieces are stone steles, inscribed with ancient calligraphy masters' works, as well as stone sculptures, making the museum China's largest stone carving work museum and a paradise for calligraphy lovers.

Today, all of the stone steles are placed in protective glass covers. Yet, local residents cherish the old days when they could directly touch the stone tablets. "The devout looks of a blind man feeling about the steles is still fresh in my memory today," said a local traveler surnamed Huo. "I visited it in the 1980s. At that time, when the entry ticket was only 0.2 yuan ($0.03), the children regarded it as summer retreat, as there are many old trees in the shady temple, and the stone steles also feel cool. We did not realize many of the stone tablets are national treasures."

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