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Forest of Stone Steles Museum

Forest of Stone Steles Museum

The Forest of Stone Steles in Xi'an is an art treasure-house with the oldest and richest collection of steles in China. It is a classical courtyard styled structure located at the site of formal Confucian Temple in Sanxue Street, xian, near the south gate of Xi'an City Wall. The museum covers an area of more than 30,000 square meters. It is not only one of the centers of ancient Chinese stone-engraving classics, but also the focus of many works of art by celebrated calligraphers of past dynasties. The numerous standing steles resemble a forest, hence the name "Forest of Steles.” With a history of almost 900 years it is an art gem renowned domestically and abroad.

The Forest of Steles was initially established in AD 1087 when precious stone steles were moved there for safe keeping, including the "Classic on Filial Piety" written by Emperor Xuanzong in AD 745 and "the Kaicheng Stone Steles" carved in AD 837.

With 900 years of history, this treasure house holds a large collection of the earliest stone steles of different periods, from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty.The exhibition areas includes two sections: Forest of Steles and Stone Sculpture. Forest of Steles house over 3,000 pieces of steles from the War Kingdoms to Qing Dynasty time. The simple figure of the stone sculpture shows vigorous strength.

The Stone Sculpture Gallery was built in 1963 and included mausoleum and religious stone sculptures from the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD) to the Tang Dynasty. The famous exhibits are six bas-reliefs, four of them original, from the Zhaoling, the Mausoleum of Emperor Tang Taizong. A reproduction of the horse from the tomb of “Swift Cavalry General" Huo Qubing also stands there. At the end of the gallery there are some Buddhist statues of which the most famous is a beautiful torso of a bodhisattva, showing strong Indian influence from the Tang period. It is prized as a great treasure in the art of world stone sculptures.