Room III contains tablets from the Han to the Song dynasties.
They are inscribed with a rich variety of calligraphy, including seal
characters, official script, regular script, running hand and cursive
hand. The tablets could very well describe the evolution of the Chi-
nese writing system.
The tablet here is in seal characters of Meng Ying of the Song
Dynasty. According to the book "On Characters" by Xu Shen,
Meng Ying wrote the radicals or basic structural parts of 540 Chi-
nese characters in seal script and marked them with phonetics sym-
bols in regular script.
This tablet for the county magistrate Cao Quan of the Han Dy-
nasty was inscribed in official script. The characters are written
with elegant and vigorous strokes and are well-arranged. The callig-
raphy flies its own colours among schools of the Han official charac-
ters. It is one of the famous Han calligraphy tablets. Offcial script
appeared by the end of the Qin Dynasty. Compared with seal char-
acters, official script is simple and easy to write, and people found it
rather convenient to use. The evolution from seal to official style is a
revolution of Chinese characters in their forms. Official script be-
came popular in the Han Dynasty.
There is a tablet inscribed in regular script, which began in the
period of the Three Kingdoms (220--280 A. D. ). It came to matu-
rity and gained popularity during the Sui and Tang dynasties.
Rulers of the successive dynasties all made it a rule that official doc-
uments and imperial examination papers should be written in regular
This is the Thousand--Character Inscription in cursive hand
which contains one thousand non-repeated characters, serving as a
primer for children in ancient times. It was written by the celebrat-
ed calligrapher Monk Huai Su in the Tang Dynasty. His bold and
unconstrained style of writing has had a considerable influence on
The Nestorian Tablet provides precious data for the study of
the cultural exchanges between the Tang Dynasty and other coun-
tries. "Da Qin" is an ancient Chinese term for the Roman Empire.
Nestorianism is a sect of Christianity. It was so named after it was
introduced into China. In 635 A. D. it was then introduced into
Chang'an. The tablet was engraved and erected in 781 A. D.. The
inscription states 'the doctrine and rites of Nestorianism, its spread-
ing in China and its activities in a period of 150 years in the Tang
Dynasty. What is more, there are names of many missionaries and
important incidents inscribed on the tablet in the Syriac languange.
The Nestorian Tablet was originally erected in the Da Qin
Temple. It was unearthed in 1623 A. D. and then moved to the Jin
Sheng Temple in the western suburbs of Xi'an. Later on rubings of
the tablet flew overseas and were translated into Latin, which
arouse attention of many countries. Some foreigners believed that
since Europe had many Christians, such a tablet recording Nestori-
anism should be shifted to Europe for people to show respects. So in
1907, Britain sent Holmore, a Danish man, to Xi'an in an attempt
to buy the tablet at a cost of 3,000 tael of silver. When the inspec-
tor in Shaanxi got the news,he immediately moved the tablet into
the Stone Forest. Holmore could not do anything but made a false
tablet and shipped it back to London.
Forest of Stone Tablets in Xi'an
The First Display Room
The Second Display Room
The Fourth & Fifth Display Room
The Sixth Display Room