Xi'an Stele Forest Museum, China
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Stele Forest Museum
This courtyard-style building in the museum was once the Confucian Temple. In 1950, the structure extended into the museum as we see today. A dense crowd of tablets in the museum looks like a thick forest, therefore, named The Stele Forest.
As a cultural relic treasure house, the museum contains the largest, richest and earliest collection of ancient stone tablets of China. These pieces of art are works from the Han Dynasty through to the Ch'ing Dynasty (206BC~1911AD), including over 1000 pieces of memorial tablets forming The Stele Forest, which according to textual research, it was originally set up in 1087AD.
The museum consists of seven exhibition rooms. The exhibition
rooms were arranging symmetrically in a row from south to north, following
the Lingxingmen Archway.
The classics, containing altogether 65,000 characters, consists of twelve scriptures including "Zhouyi", "the Book of Songs", "the Book of Rites", "the Book of Filial Piety", etc. All engraved in 114 pieces of stone on both sides. In the Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911AD) another classic "Menaces", with 30,000 characters, was engraved in 17 pieces of stone.
Thus, the works altogether called "Thirteen Classics".
The intellectuals of feudal society in China were required to read all
these classics. At the time when carved-plate printing was not commonly
use, the "stone books" were conductive to avoiding the errors
made in copying the classics by handwriting and could be preserve forever.