Xi’an Beilin Museum – Inscribed Steles

Xi’an Beilin Museum is also known as Stele Forest, a fascinating and wonderful museum of Steles with inscriptions, epigraphs and tomb stone sculptures exhibited in Xi’an in the Shaanxi province of China.  The museum was founded in 1944 by adapting the style of 11th century old Confucius Temple. There are 3,000 steles exhibited in the museum and as a result of the large number of steles exhibited in the museum it was also called as Stele Forest.  The museum is having seven halls which are classified as per the items of exhibitions, mainly paintings, calligraphy and historical relics.

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National treasures:

The museum is located inside the Wenchang Gate of the City Wall of Xi’an on Sanxue Street. The construction is a typical replica of Xian Confucius Temple dated back to 1087 of North Song Dynasty who ruled the Kingdom during 960 to 1127. The purpose of the museum was to preserve the stone tablets known as Kaicheng Classics and the Filial Piety Classics. Apart from the calligraphic steles there are about 11,000 different types of relics exhibited in seven halls. Among the relics some of the 19 groups are considered as the rarest group and is classified as national treasures. 

Along with the seven exhibition halls the museum is mainly divided in to two segments through the Halberd Gate. The typical old Confucius style construction in the front side and rear side is earmarked for the exhibition halls. When you enter the Confucius Temple, the Ligxing Gates and memorial archway are seen in front of you. On both side of Halberd Gate there are two separate pavilions in the north and south. On north side you can see a stone horse statue representing Daxia State, which was a minority ethnic community, existed during 407 to 431 and bell of Tang Dynasty you can see in the south side. The stone horse is considered as a very rare art piece and hence considered as a national treasure.

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The seven exhibition halls:

In the first exhibition hall displayed Stone Tablet of Filial Piety. Also you can see the major exhibitions of Kaicheng Classics which are believed to be created during 837 AD.

In the second room you can see stone tablet of Tang Dynasty. These calligraphy inscription of Nestorian Stele and Bukong Monk Stele shred slight to the cultural engagement of China with other countries. 

The third room is consisting of steles from Han to Song Dynasty during 960 to 1279. There are two types of calligraphy style you can find in the inscriptions, the regular and clerical scripts. 

Poems and literal works of calligraphy are exhibited in the fourth hall. The inscriptions are marked during Song and Qing Dynasty during 1644 to 1911. There are sculptural works of palaces and pictures you can see in these stone tablets.

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Historical information inscribed on the tablets are displayed in the fifth hall. These are mainly of Qing Dynasty. Poems inscribed during Qing Dynasty are displayed in the Sixth hall.

In the seventh hall, you can see the replicas of Secret Copybooks of Chunhua which was destroyed during a fire.  The original Chunhua was inscribed on wooden boards, written by emperors, ministers and eminent calligraphers. 

How to reach there:

Tourist bus services are available from Wen Chang Men Gate station. Or if you can walk towards Shuyuanmen Street then it is easy to reach the location. It may take 3 hours to complete visiting the halls. Entry is against a fee of CNY 75 per head during March to November and CNY 50 per head during December to February. English speaking guide service are offered for CNY 200.

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