The Baiheliang Ancient Hydrological Inscription. (Photo/Courtesy of the Baiheliang Museum)
China's National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) unveiled a catalog of 1,658 significant ancient stone inscriptions and carvings on Friday with the aim of bolstering the preservation and management of these valuable relics. Spanning over 2,000 years, these artifacts offer insight into the economic, societal, scientific, and technological accomplishments of ancient China.
Covering 18 major historical periods from the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the catalog includes more than 10 major categories such as steles, tablets, tomb epitaphs and cliff carvings, which combine calligraphy, painting and sculpture art.
The artifacts were selected from hundreds of cultural artifacts from across the country, with Beijing and the provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong and Henan boasting the highest number of entries. The catalog includes 1,148 stone inscriptions and carvings from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and earlier periods which reflect the evolution, major script styles, calligraphic trends, techniques, and schools of ancient Chinese calligraphy.
The inscriptions encompass a variety of scripts, ranging from pre-Qin (221BC -207BC) characters to the Standard, Clerical and Cursive scripts. These listed items bore witness to the historical exchanges and integration among different ethnic groups in ancient China.
The catalog includes inscriptions in 13 languages, including Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu and Uighur. Notably, a stele commemorating the friendly relations between the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Tubo Kingdom serves as an important testament to the unity between the Han and Tibetan ethnic groups.
The NCHA stated that they plan to introduce relevant policies and implement projects with the aim to comprehensively enhance preservation and utilization of ancient stone inscriptions and carvings.