The Landscape of Words: Stone Inscriptions in Early and Medieval China [Hardcover ed.] 0295987286, 9780295987286

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The Landscape of Words: Stone Inscriptions in Early and Medieval China [Hardcover ed.]
 0295987286, 9780295987286

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S to n e In s c r i p t io n s fro m a n d


M edieval C hina

R o b e r t £. H a r r i s t 麵


THE LANDSCAPE OF WORDS S to n e In s c rip tio n s fro m Early a n d M edieval C h in a


U n i v e r s i t y o f W a s h i n g t o n Pr ess Seattle and London

The Landscape o f Words: Stone Inscriptionsfrom Early and Medieval China

is published w ith the assistance of the G etty Foundation. The book also received generous support from Colum bia University.

© 2008 by the U niversity of W ashington Press Printed in C hina 12 11 10 09 08


A ll rights reserved. No part o f this publication m ay be reproduced or transm itted in any form or by any means, electronic or m echanical, in cludin g photocopy, recording, or any inform ation storage or retrieval system, w ith ou t perm ission in w ritin g from the publisher. U niversity o f W ashington Press P.O. Box 50096, Seattle, W A 98145 U.S.A. w ww .w

Library o f Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Harrist, Robert E.,Jr.


The landscape of w o rd s: stone inscriptions from early and m edieval C hina / Robert E. H arrist Jr. p.

cm .

Includes bibliographical references and index. iSBN-13: 978-0-295-98728-6 (alk. paper) isBN-io: 0-295-98728-6 (alk. paper)

1. Petroglyphs— China.

I. Title.

II. Title: Stone inscriptions from early

and m edieval China. G N 799.P4H 3345 20 08

709.01130931— dc22


The paper used in this publication meets the m in im um requirements of A m erican National Standard for Inform ation Sciences— Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,

a n s i z 39.48-1984.

FRONTISPIECE : P a s s a g e f r o m t h e D ia m o n d S u t r a . U n d a te d , c a . 5 7 0 —5 8 0 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 50 c m h ig h . S u tr a V a lle y , M t. T a i, T a i ,a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

To W e i z h i a n d J a c k , who w e n t to the m o u n ta in s w ith me

A ckno w ledg m en ts

N ote t o th e R e a d e r

C h ro n o lo g y o f C h ine se D y n a s tie s




Introduction W riting on th e Bones o f th e Earth


Chapter One Public Works a n d P ub lic W r itin g a t t h e S to n e G a te


Chapter Two R o a m in g w i t h I m m o r t a l s on Cloud Peak M o u n t a i n


Chapter Three The V i r t u a l S t e le on M o u n t Tie a n d t h e M e r i t s o f S c a l e


Chapter Four I m p e r i a l W r i t i n g a n d t h e A s c e n t o f M o u n t Tai


Chapter Five Postscript


C hinese T e xts

29 1

A b b re v ia tio n s



30 1

G lo s s a ry o f C h ine se C h a ra c te rs


B ib lio g ra p h y





Research for this book began with a trip to China in the summer of 1998. The scholars, friends, and relatives that my wife and I encountered on that trip, and on later visits, made it possible to complete my work, and it is to these remarkable people that I must first offer my thanks. In Beijing, Mr. Shi Anchang,of the Palace Museum, loaned me an essential book at just the moment I needed it. Professor Liu Tao, of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, also has offered research materials and good advice over the years. Profes­ sor Yang Xin, of Beijing University, shared his profound knowledge of Mt. Tai and helped arrange my fi-rst trip to the mountain. Professor Zhang Zong, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, shared his immense knowledge of Buddhism, and Professor Luo Zhao, also of the academy, enthusiastically guided me on an unforget­ table visit to the Yunjusi. My old friends Chris and Freda Murck repeatedly offered hospitality and good cheer in Beijing, the city that has become their home. In Qingdao, my wife’s uncle Mr. Lu Zongyou helped me reach Cloud Peak Mountain. Ms. Chi drove us there, and her daughter, Tiantian, climbed the mountain w ith us. Mayor Li ofLaizhou treated us royally and escorted us to other mountains. On a later visit, Mr. Leonard Wang, of Qingdao University, guided me on a visit to Mt. Lao. The key institution in China that made my research possible was the Shan­ dong Stone Carving Art Museum in Ji, nan. There I met one of the most remarkable scholars I know, Mr. Lai Fei, whose knowledge of writing on stone in all its forms is unsurpassed. He has become a good friend to my family, and we look forward to many future visits with him. Also at the museum, Director Jiao Desen offered patient encouragement and facilitated my research on several visits. Mr. Zhang Guangcun generously shared his knowledge and gave me a manuscript of a forthcoming article. Thanks to Mr. Wei Guangping, of the Shandong Youth Travel Bureau, I was able to participate in two extraordinary study tours with scholars from China and Japan. In Tai, an ,Mr. Liu Hui, director of the Temple of Mt. Tai, gave me important information about inscriptions on Mt. Tai and presented me with a copy of his book, which proved to be a valuable source. Mr. Hu Xinli, director of the Cultural Relics Bureau in Zoucheng, was a wonderful host during visits to Mt. Tie and other moun­ tains, and his son, Hu Mingche, made sure I did not fall down.

Mr. Hua Rende, of the Suzhou University Library, a superb calligrapher and scholar, invited me and my wife to his home and helped us gain useful introductions to scholars in the Suzhou area. In Hanzhong, I had the great honor to meet the former director of the Hanzhong Municipal Museum, Mr. Guo Rongzhang. Mr. Guo, the world’s foremost expert on the inscriptions at the Stone Gate, offered wise counsel and sent important research materials. He also provided rare photographs of the inscriptions that appear among the illustrations in this book. The current director of the museum, Mr. Feng Suiping,generously arranged a trip to the Lingyansi, which my wife, son, and I always will remember. Lis Jung Lu and Lu Dadong, brilliant young scholars who live in Hangzhou, also provided important information and excellent color photographs. During visits to Fuzhou, my mother-in-law, Ms. Lu Binfang, took care of all the family, just as she does when she is in New York, and my wife’s uncle Mr. Wang Quan tirelessly accompanied me on trips to Mt. Gu and many other sites and helped me find books published locally that cannot be acquired elsewhere. Mr. Liu Xiangru, an expert on Fuzhou history, also helped me find materials and guided me around the city he knows so well. During study trips in China in 2002 and 20051 had the good fortune to meet three scholars from Japan whose writings are cited throughout my book and whose advice I valued greatly:Professors Kiriya Seiichi, Aikawa Masayuki, and Sakata Ryuichi. W ith great generosity, Professor Sakata sent me a cache of extraordinary photographs, from which many of the illustrations in chapter 2 were taken. Throughout the course of my research on mountain inscriptions, I have been inspired by the work of Professor Lothar Ledderose, of Heidelberg University, whose own studies of carved calligraphy set a high standard for the rest of us. His friend­ ship and advice have been equally treasured. Professor Jessica Rawson kindly took time from her own work at Oxford to read, in various stages of completion, all the chapters of this book, offering stimulating suggestions and cheering me up on many occasions. Professor Bai Qianshen also read the manuscript and offered important suggestions. Many of the ideas developed in this book first took shape in my gradu­ ate school days at Princeton in the seminars of my teacher Professor Wen C. Fong, to whom I am deeply grateful. W ithout the editorial advice of Jan Stuart and Susan Nelson, my two extra­ ordinary friends and mentors, I probably would have just given up. Professors Amy McNair and Eugene Wang read the entire manuscript and made it much better through their wise interventions. At the last minute, Professors Martin Kern and Michael Nylan reviewed a translation and corrected numerous errors. The many that no doubt remain are my own doing. Professors Stanley Abe, Xiaoshan Yang,

Chun-fang Yu, and Angela Howard read and corrected parts of my manuscript, and Katherine Mino helped greatly with chapter 3. 1 am grateful also to Raoul Birnbaum, Susan Bush, Patricia Ebrey, W u Hung, Jason Kuo, Liu Yang, Lothar Ledderose, Jerome Silbergeld, and Stephen Teiser for inviting me to present parts of my research in the form of conference papers and lectures on three different continents. Professor Anyi Pan also invited me to speak and sent wonderful photographs of inscriptions. Professors Peter Bol and Robert Hymes generously allowed me to read their chapters for the forthcoming volume on the Song period in The Cambridge History of China. The friendship and good sense of Jane and Leo Swergold have been important parts of my life while I was at work on this book. At various stages of research I was fortunate to have the assistance of Zeb Raft, Zhang Chen, Victor Leung, Xu Man, Patric Prado, and Jianshu Ma. My students Xue Lei and Chen Li-wei also helped me in many ways and provided superb photo­ graphs taken during their research trips in China. At Columbia, I have been fortunate to be the colleague of Professors Richard Brilliant and David Rosand, who have remained interested in this project for many years. As chairs of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, and as faithful friends, Stephen Murray, Joseph Connors, Hilary Ballon, Jonathan Crary, and Barry Bergdoll have helped me greatly in many ways. Also at Columbia, my deep thanks go to Dean Kathryn Yatrakis and Associate Vice President Margaret Edsall, who arranged a timely subvention to support the publication of this book. The computer wizardry of Pilar Peters, Caleb Smith, Juliet Chou, and Romeo Giron enabled me to include drawings and diagrams that make my arguments much clearer, and I am very grateful to them. My research in China was supported by grants from the National Endow­ ment for the Humanities and the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies. One of the great pleasures of publishing this book with the University of Washington Press has been the opportunity to again work w ith Lorri Hagman, a great editor and a calm and patient friend. I am grateful also to Pamela Bruton, Marilyn Trueblood, and Michael Duckworth, who offered excellent advice at various points leading up to publication, and to John Stevenson, whose keen eye and sense of design have made this book a pleasure to behold. This book is dedicated to my wife, Weizhi Lu, and to our son, Jack. I wish I could inscribe my love for them, in big characters, on the top of every mountain.

Note to th e R e a d e r

This book is filled w ith the names of Chinese mountains. In the text, most have been rendered in English as “Mt.” followed by the transliteration of a one- or twocharacter name, such as Mt. Tai (Taishan) and Mt. Culai (Culaishan). In cases in which the literal meaning of the name of a mountain is important to understand­ ing the significance of the inscriptions it bears, the name is translated. For example, Yunfengshan is rendered as “Cloud Peak Mountain.” The names of some mountains mentioned frequently in English-language scholarship, such as Xiangtangshan, are given only in transliteration and the corresponding characters appear in the Glossary. Unless otherwise indicated, in the figure captions for inscriptions carved on large boulders or other natural stone surfaces, dimensions refer to the area covered by the writing. In all cases, height precedes width. In the text, the numbers and letters (e.g., iA) that appear after translations of Chinese texts refer to the section “Chinese Texts” at the end the book. Missing or illegible characters in stone inscriptions and other texts are indicated by small empty boxes. All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. In my translations, brackets enclose clarifications of ambiguities and suggestions for missing words; parentheses enclose supplemental information such as Western calendar dates.

C h ro n o lo g y o f C h in e se D y n a s t ie s

Shang dyn asty Zhou d yn asty

ca. 1600-ca. .

W estern Zhou Eastern Zhou

ii o o

ca. 110 0 -771 B.C.E

77O-256 B.C.E.

Spring and A u tu m n period

770 -Ca. 47O B.C.E.

W a rrin g States period

ca. 470-221 B.C.E.

Q in dyn asty H an dyn asty

221-206 B.C.E. 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.

W estern (Former) H an

206 B.C.E.—9 C.E.

X in dyn asty

9-24 C.E.

Eastern (Latter) Han Three K ingdom s period W ei

25-220 C.E.

220-65 220—65

Shu Han




W estern Jin dyn asty


N orthern D yn asties


N orthern Liang


N orthern W ei


Eastern W ei


W estern W ei


N orthern Qi


N orthern Zhou Southern D yn asties

557 - 81 317-589

Eastern Jin




Southern Q i

479- 502





Sui dynasty Tang dynasty Liao (Khitan) dynasty Five Dynasties period Song dynasty Northern Song Southern Song Yuan dynasty Ming dynasty Q ing dyn asty


ca. 1100-256 B.C.E,

58 9 -6 18

6x8-907 9 16 -112 5 90 7-6 0 9 6 0 -12 79 9 6 0 -112 7 112 7 -12 7 9 126 0 -136 8 13 6 8 -16 4 4 16 4 4 -19 11


P la te 1. S to n e in s c r ip t io n s o n M t. T a i, T a i ,a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

P la te 2. M a rk e r R e c o r d f o r Y a n g H u a i a n d Y a n g B i ( y a n g H u a i Y a n g Bi b ia o ji) . 173. S to n e in s c r ip ­ t i o n , 216 x 67 c m ( u p p e r s e c t io n ) a n d 50 c m ( lo w e r s e c t io n ) a n d in k r u b b in g . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f G u o R o n g z h a n g .

P la te 3. I n s c r ip t io n f o r th e S t o n e G a te (S h im e n m in g ) . 5 0 9 . D e t a il. T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f G u o R o n g z h a n g .

P la te 5. S to n e in s c r ip t io n r e a d in g :*'T h is is t h e S o u th e r n M o u n t a in G a te o f t h e A lt a r s o f t h e I m m o r t a l s ’ ,(C7 X /a n ta n n a n s h a n m e n y e ) . U n d a te d , c a . 5 1 2 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 4 2 x 30 c m . G r e a t P la t f o r m M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

P la te 6. S t e le o f Z h e n g V ^ engong (Z h e n g W e n g o n g b e i) . 511 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , t o t a l h e ig h t, 4 7 7 c m . H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n t a in , P in g d u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f S a k a ta R y u ic h i.

P la te 7. I n s c r ip t io n r e a d in g :aT h e s to n e s e a t f a c in g t h e g a t e o f t h e H o n o r a b le Z h e n g ,,{ Z h e n g

g o n g z h i s u o d a n g m e n s h i z u o y e ) . U n d a te d , c a . 511. S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 85 x 83 c m . C lo u d P e a k M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f S a k a ta R y u ic h i.

P la te 8. I n s c r ip t io n s r e a d in g :l,M a s te r A n q i p ilo t s a d r a g o n a n d r e s ts o n M t. P e n g la i” { A n q iz i j i a

lo n g q i P e n g la i z h i s h a n ) a n d l l W a n g Z ijin p ilo t s a p h o e n ix a n d r e s ts o n M t. T a is h i” (j^Jang Z ijin j i a fe n g q i T a is h i z h i s h a n ) . U n d a te d , c a . 511. S to n e in s c r ip t io n s , 38 x 62 c m a n d 32 x 60 c m . C lo u d P e a k M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to : C o u r te s y o f L a i Fei.

P la te 10. P a s s a g e f r o m t h e M a n ju srT S u t r a . 5 7 0 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 135 x 3 4 9 c m . M t. C u la i, X in t a i M u n ic ip a lit y , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f Lis J u n g Lu a n d Lu D a d o n g .

P la te 9. G r e a t V a c u it y K in g

B u d d h a (D a k o n g w a n g Fo). 5 6 4 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , t o t a l h e ig h t, 9 3 0 c m . M t. H o n g d in g , D o n g p in g C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :A u th o r .

P la te 13. N a m e s o f B u d d h is t d e it ie s . U n d a te d , c a . 1 69 4 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 30 c m h ig h . D ru m M o u n t a in , F u z h o u , F u jia n . P h o to :A u th o r .

P la te 14. T h e c h a r a c t e r b u ( c l o t h ) , f r o m t h e D ia m o n d S u t r a . U n d a te d , c a . 5 7 0 —5 8 0 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , c h a r a c t e r c a . 50 c m h ig h . M t. T a i, T a i ,a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

P la te 15. I n s c r ip t io n s o n G r e a t V is t a P e a k , M t. T a i, T a i ,a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :C he n L i- w e i.

P la te 16. In s c r ib e d t a b l e t p r e p a r e d

d u c t e d b y W a n g M a n g (4 5 B .C .£ .—23 C .6 .). S to n e , 1 3 .8 c m in h e ig h t. D is ­ c o v e r e d a t th e s it e o f t h e G ui P a l­ a c e in W e iy a n g D is t r ic t , X i ,a n , S h a a n x i. P h o to :Z h o n g g u o s h e h u i k e x u e y u a n k a o g u y a n jiu s u o , MH a n C hang, a n c h e n g G u ig o n g s ih a o j i a n z h t i, ” p i. 1.

P la te 17. In la id c h a r a c t e r s o f

In s c r ip t io n fo r t h e R e c o r d o f M t. Tai. 7 2 6 . E a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 16 c m h ig h . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f C hen L i- w e i.


SivI' : 4











: /■:



猶 _

./ ,


P la te 18. S to n e in s c r ip t io n s o n D ru m M o u n t a in , F u z h o u , F u jia n . U n d a te d , c a . 1 7 0 0 —1 90 0 . P h o to : A u th o r .

P la te 19. D e f a c e d in s c r ip t io n b y E m p e ro r S o n g Z h e n z o n g (r. 9 9 7 —1 0 2 2 ). 1 0 0 8 . M t. T a i, T a i’a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o to : C o u rte s y o f C he n L i- w e i.

P la te 2 0. T h e Q ia n lo n g e m p e r o r (r. 1 7 3 6 —1 7 9 5 ), Ten T h o u s a n d F o o t S t e le (W a n z h a n g b e i) . 1748. S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 20 x 9 m . M t. T a i, T a i ,a n ,S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f C he n L i- w e i.

In t r o d u c t i o n

W riting on t h e B o n e s o f th e E a r t h The ascent of Mt. Tai on foot requires about six hours of steady climbing. Along the route from the base to the summit are scores of arches, gateways, pavilions, and temples that have altered the appearance of this sacred mountain and imbued its topography with enduring signs of its profound significance in the cultural geog­ raphy of China. But the most numerous and the most ancient traces of human interaction with the mountain are not works of architecture— they are texts carved into granite boulders and cliffs that are part of the natural terrain (plate i).1 The w ork of m a n y

centuries, t h e s e in s c r ip tio n s , k n o w n in C h in e s e as moya o r moya

shike, constitute a vast archive of writing. In a very real sense, visitors do not simply climb Mt. Tai— they read it, deciphering the written traces of those who traveled to the mountain before them and reanimating voices from the past that speak from the words of the carved texts. Mt. Tai is only one of countless sites in China where writing marks the face of the natural world. Over a period of more than two thousand years, mo\;a inscrip­ tions have been carved in all areas of the country and, like the writing system itself, are one of the distinguishing features of Chinese civilization. Ranging from names of places, people, and deities that even semiliterate viewers could recognize to lengthy ritual prayers studded with classical allusions, the inscriptions were a form of public display accessible to anyone at any time.Those who had the inscriptions carved included emperors and powerful members of the literate elite, as well as people who were completely obscure or enjoyed only modest, local fame— minor government officials, Buddhist monks, pilgrims, and tourists from varied social and economic backgrounds. This book presents the early history of moya inscriptions from the first through the eighth centuries c •e • These centuries witnessed the collapse of the Han empire and the rise of Buddhism in China ;they encompassed also the conquest of

the north by non-Chinese invaders and the political reunification of China in the late sixth century that set the stage for a period of military and cultural florescence under the rule of the Tang dynasty. Against this historical background, genres of mopa inscriptions that would endure throughout the later history of imperial and modern China first appeared. Focusing on sites in Shaanxi and Shandong, I interpret these inscriptions as part of the history of how, through the medium of the written word, the Chinese have transformed geological formations into landscapes imbued w ith literary, ideological, and religious significance.2

Like writing itself, landscape is not a natural phenomenon but a product of human culture, generated through what Simon Schama has called “our shaping perception” of the raw material of nature.3Through the process Schama describes, come into being when fragments of the otherwise-undifferentiated continuum of the surface of the earth are set apart and encoded with meaning by human viewers.4 This can result from gazing at topography in search of order in the natural world or conferring site names that give identity to hills, rocks, or waterfalls. In this book, I am concerned with tangible, durable interventions that bring about what has been called a transformation of space into place.5A place, in the words of Robert Pogue Harrison, “is defined by its boundaries, its intrinsic lim ­ its, its distinctly local ‘here’ that remains fixed in space even as it perdures in tim e ., , 6 W hat creates a place, in Harrison’s view, is a sign of human presence around which space becomes organized and acquires meaning. Such a sign— a building, a mound of earth, or even a fire— interposes w ithin the eternal, timeless order of nature a marker of “human finitude ... of our mortal sojourn on the earth.”7 The markers of human finitude that constitute TheLandscape ofWords include carved, records of public-works projects, eulogies commending virtuous acts, lyric poems, names of deities, and prayers addressed to unseen gods and spirits. These inscriptions exist as tangible artifacts of the stone carver’s craft and as graphic embodiments of language, each awaiting reading and interpretation, and each rais­ ing questions that can be asked of any piece of writing :W ho wrote it? To what genre of texts does it belong? To whom was it addressed? W hy was it written in one format, size, or script rather than another? An inscription carved in a landscape demands thatjve ask additional questions:W hy was it written here? What is the relationship between the writing and its location? In his survey of stone inscriptions from the Roman world, Lawrence Keppie reminds us that “[t]he most important thing to remember about any Roman inscrip­ tion is that it is inscribed on s o m e t l^ ^ ^ ^ n adaptation ofKeppie's statement, which refers to arches, temples, and other structures bearing carved Latin texts, might assert that the most important thirig t(|remember about any Chinese mopa inscrip­ tion is that it is inscribed at some plate, not on a man-made structure but on the

surface of the earth itself. Like stone inscriptions of all kinds, writing carved in landscape differs radically from a text disseminated through hand-copied manu­ scripts or through printing. These portable formats make the texts they preserve available to a reader anywhere. Inscriptions have the opposite effect:because they do not move, a reader must go to them. In the case of the inscriptions studied in this book, a reader must travel through river valleys, search out boulders scattered along narrow trails, or ascend mountain peaks to reach the sites of the writing. Although the content and calligraphic forms of texts carved at these sites could be, and were, transcribed and disseminated among a far-flung readership, I am concerned with the experience of reading these texts in their original spatial contexts, in the places where those who composed and carved them expected them to be read. To study inscriptions from this perspective, however, requires methods of analysis that are quite different from those that have informed most earlier studies of writing on stone in China.

T H E S T U D Y OF I N S C R I P T I O N S IN A N D OUT OF L A N D S C A P E This book, like all studies of Chinese stone inscriptions, builds upon the foundation of antiquarian and epigraphic research laid by scholars of jinshixue,or “the study of metal and stone,” which began during the Song dynasty. Based on meticulous examination of bronze vessels, steles, weapons, musical instruments, and other antiquities, the catalogues and treatises of jinshixue scholars imposed order on the immense inventory of artifacts surviving from ancient China. Early scholars of jinshixue, such as Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072),Zhao Mingcheng (1081-1129),and Hong Gua (1117-1184), who were the first to record many of the moya inscriptions studied in this book, were deeply interested in the material forms and visual properties of objects they studied;but they were concerned above all with writing— with texts* on bronze or on stone that allowed them to correct and supplement knowledge of the past transmitted in historical and literary sources. Jinshixue ^Iso had a profound effect on the history of art and aesthetics by bringing to light and disseminating models of ancient writing. During the Qing dynasty a major intellectual and aes­ thetic movement known as beixue, or “stele studies,” inspired the development of new styles of calligraphy based on the study of stone inscriptions.9As calligraphers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries looked beyond the canon of masterpieces centered on informal brush-written works attributed, often dubiously, to Wang Xizhi (303—361), they discovered in the inscriptions of obscure or anonymous writ­ ers from the sixth century and earlier the foundations for a stylistic transformation of their art.10

For scholars engaged in evidential research, as well as for artists whose goal was to copy and assimilate ancient scripts and calligraphic styles, no tool was more essential than the ink rubbing, or taben.11Produced by placing a sheet of paper over a carved stone and tamping it with an ink pad, a rubbing preserves carved writing or pictorial designs with remarkable faithfulness. Folded into bundles or mounted in the form of scrolls or albums, rubbings could be viewed conveniently in a study or library, and pioneering scholars of jinshixue acquired hundreds of examples on which their surveys of early epigraphy were based. The technique of rubbing had the great attraction also of producing easily accessible copies of texts that were viewed as irrefutable primary sources, uncorrupted by scribal errors or outright forgery, which tainted handwritten or printed documents from the past. Early rub.bings taken before erosion or other damage altered the face of an inscription were especially prized and were treated as art objects in their own right. The white shapes of characters set off against the black background of a rub­ bing often reproduce carved surfaces more vividly than any photograph, and as the many rubbings illustrated in this book reflect, it is impossible to sXudy early cal­ ligraphy without these indispensable images. The beauty and easy accessibility of rubbings should not obscure, however, the misconceptions and errors to which their use often has led. Visually, a rubbing reduces to a two-dimensional surface the three-dimensional forms of carved Chinese characters that were intended to be revealed through the play of light and shadow or, in many cases, were highlighted through the application of inlaid ornament or colors.12The collapse of three-dimensional forms into two-dimensional shapes resulting from the process of making a rubbing is paralleled by the even more misleading distortion of removing inscrip­ tions from their intended spatial contexts, literally peeling away texts from the surfaces on which they were carved. The separation of rubbings from their inscriptional sources was of relatively little concern to jinshixue scholars:once a text was available as a rubbing, the stone, which remained fixed in space, could be disre­ garded. Likewise, for calligraphers interested in copying ancient inscriptions, it was rubbings, not pitted and eroded stones, that facilitated their studies.13 It is true, however, that scholars of epigraphy, as well as casual tourists, did travel to visit steles and other monuments. As we w ill see, it was thanks to the explorations of Zhao Mingcheng that the inscriptions on Cloud Peak Mountain discussed in chapter 2 first came to the attention of scholars. In the Qing dynasty, epigraphers such as Gu Yanwu (1613—1682),Huang Yi (1744-1801), and Ruan Yuan (1764-1849) tirelessly sought out steles and moya carvings’ their fieldwork inspired by antiquarian curiosity and by nostalgic longing for past dynastic glories. Although these excursions often were documented in travel diaries and paintings known as fangbei tu, or “pictures of visits to steles,” traveler-scholars such as Huang Yi were

fascinated primarily by the calligraphic beauty of inscriptions and by the historical information they contained. He and other epigraphers, even those who carefully studied inscriptions in situ, devoted much less attention to the relationships among groups of carved texts or to the significance of their landscape settings. Instead, making rubbings for future research often was the principal goal of antiquarian tourism. On one occasion, for example, during his travels in Shandong, Huang Yi sensibly decided not to attempt the arduous ascent of Mt. Culai and dispatched craftsmen to make rubbings of the Buddhist sutras carved on its summit.14 His method of acquiring knowledge of these texts recalls that used by Zhao Mingcheng centuries e a r lie r when, as he notes in his Record ofMetal and Stone (Jinshi lu), he sent someone to investigate and copy an inscription carved on Heavenly Column Moun­ tain that he was unable to see himself.15 However rubbings were acquired, the handsome sheets of blackened paper collected in the field could later be studied at home or shared with more sedentary scholars unwilling or unable to visit hard-toreach inscriptions. Rubbings reveal nothing of the original locations of carved texts or their placement in relation to other inscriptions, buildings, or natural topography. In the case of moya inscriptions embedded in landscapes, the separation of texts from their original locations can be especially deceptive.16 Hong Gua’s misunderstanding of an inscription from the year 173


.e .

illustrates this problem. The text Hong Gua

recorded honored two men named Yang Huai and Yang Bi, cousins from Jianwei in Sichuan. It was carved by a native of the same area who, according to the inscription, “passed by this place.” Hong Gua, who knew the text only in the form of a rubbing (or possibly a handwritten transcription of the text), assumed that the place in question was the tomb of one of the Yang cousins;in fact, the text was located inside the Stone Gate tunnel in Shaanxi, where an inscription honoring the grandfather of the two Yangs had been carved nearly thirty years earlier.17 It was precisely because of the presence of the earlier inscription that the later text was added, but this was information that the rubbings known to Hong Gua could not supply. Like a name tag unattached to its intended wearer, the words “this place” that he saw in the rubbing had come loose from their referent, obscuring the bonds of family and of native place commemorated by the writing at the Stone Gate.18 The scale of mopa inscriptions also created special problems for epigraphers. Large rubbings of steles, though often cut into strips and mounted as albums, rarely were more than three meters in height and could be displayed conveniently on the wall of a study, allowing the overall configuration of the writing to be discerned in a single glance. Rubbings from monumental mo]; a inscriptions also were cut up and viewed in small sections;but if they were kept intact, their large size made it dif­ ficult to view them indoors.19As a result, it was impossible to reconstruct through

the use of rubbings the overall lay­ out of truly massive texts, such as the sutras carved in Shandong during the sixth century or the imperial inscription of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712-756) on Mt. Tai. To this day, the problem of view­ ing big rubbings remains unsolved, and museum curators sometimes must resort to unrolling them down the hallways of their institutions in order to display them for visi­ tors (fig. 1.1). W hen moya inscriptions are divorced from their intended settings, the distortion of their original design and meaning that results is like that suffered by stat­ ues hacked from their spatial and iconographic contexts in Buddhist cave chapels and displayed in Fig. 1.1. U n r o llin g a r u b b in g a t t h e S h a n d o n g S to n e 广


C a rv in g A r t M u s e u m , J i ,n a n . P h o to :A u th o r .





museums as independent works of sculpture. This practice makes it difficult for a museum visitor to

grasp that where these icons appeared, as much as the iconography of the deities they represented, was integral to their meaning. In spite of this fact, the habit of separating moya inscriptions from their contexts that is notable in the work of early jinshixue scholars has continued in modern studies of Chinese calligraphy. Texts carved in landscape, like other forms of writing, have been assimilated into the general history of epigraphy and calligraphic styles, illustrated almost exclusively in the form of rubbings. An important example of this approach is the short but informative essay on moya inscriptions by Toyama Gunji in the Japanese compen­ dium of calligraphy Shodd zenshu. Toyama’s essay, long a standard introduction to the subject, focuses on philology and questions of attribution and is illustrated entirely by details taken from rubbings.20In an important introduction to Chinese calligraphy that includes a discussion of sixth-century moya inscriptions, Wen C. Fong illustrates the site of the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai;but the goal of his analysis is to explicate the style of the great Northern Song calligrapher Huang Tingjian (1045-1105), who studied moya carvings, and not to illuminate the original signifi­

cance of the large-scale characters on the mountain.21 Although he illustrates only two examples in his idiosyncratic survey of calligraphy, Jean Francois Billeter does a d d re ss b r ie f ly th e r e la t io n s h ip b e tw e e n

moya in s c r ip t io n s a n d la n d s c a p e . H e

observes:“The characters that are cut into the rock seem to symbolize the point where all surrounding nature, indeed all visible reality, arises. In some cases, the whole landscape seems to be transfigured by such inscriptions, which must surely be reckoned among the most remarkable expressions of Chinese genius.”22 Only in the recent work of scholars in China and Japan, to whom I am greatly indebted, have moya inscriptions become the subjects of what might be called envi­ ronmental case s tu d ie s that break away from the p h ilo lo g ic a l concerns of jinshixue as well as from those of modern art historical practice centered on the history of style. These studies, by Lai Fei, Li Yi, Qian Yinyu, Seiichi Kiriya, and others, seek to understand inscriptions as integral parts of their landscape settings.23 Though produced with virtually no reference to Western publications, the work of these scholars illuminates the history of writing and text production in China in ways that complement the theoretical formulations of writers such as Roger Chartier and D. F. McKenzie, who have argued that, in addition to its content, the physical embodi­ ment of a text is an ever-present aspect of its total semiotic effect.24 According to Chartier, “The significance of a text, or better yet, the historically and socially dis­ tinct significations of a text, whatever they may be, are inseparable from the mate­ rial conditions and physical forms that make the text available to readers., , 25In other words, those aspects of writing that are independent of its basic function of repre­ senting language in graphic form, including its size, script, layout, medium, and location, inevitably and inescapably determine how the content is understood. Guided by this conception of writing, the primary goal of The Landscape of Words is not only to understand how the semantic content and calligraphic forms of carved texts convey meaning but also to explore how inscriptions, through their placement in and their interaction with the natural world, both embed historical memory in the topography of China and evoke mythic worlds that transcend the experiences of everyday life.

wTO GO TO A M O U N T A I N A N D C A R V E I T , , To study moya inscriptions in their original geographic and historical contexts requires knowledge of how these carvings were produced and how they were related to other forms of writing. The widespread use of stone as a medium for writing in China did not begin until around the first century c.e.— later than in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, the Near East, Greece, or Rome. It is likely, however, that by

the twentieth century more writing on stone in various formats had accumulated in China than in any other part of the world; and it appears to be indisputable that more inscriptions were placed directly on natural stone surfaces in China than in any other civilization.26 Among the formats for epigraphy used most widely in China are the stele (bei\ epitaph (muzhiming),and “record of making images” (zaoxiangji).27 The most common of these epigraphic formats is the stele (see fig. 1.14). Usually consisting of a limestone slab set into a base carved in the form of a giant tortoise, steles are imposing public monuments bearing the texts of commendations, eulogies, or accounts of imperial actions, as well as histories of temples and government build­ ings and religious texts. Epitaphs, which originated as stones or bricks bearing the names of the dead, gradually took the form of square slabs, usually of limestone, inscribed with texts recording the ancestry, career, and personal qualities of the tomb occupants with whom they were interred (see fig. 1.30). “Records of making images” appear on portable Buddhist and Daoist icons and adjacent to relief or free­ standing images in cave chapels, such as those from the fifth and sixth century at Longmen in Henan (see fig. 3.27). The terms “stele,” “epitaph,” and “record of making images” can denote both formats for writing and genres of texts. The term mopa, however, refers only to a particular medium— unquarried stone that remains in its original setting. Ancient theories of writing claim that the invention of Chinese characters was inspired by the discovery of patterns in nature— tracks of birds, markings on the backs of tor­ toises, or heavenly constellations.28Although these concepts of how writing origi­ nated belong to the realm of myth, mopa inscriptions do, in a sense, return writing to nature. Other supports for writing require manufacture or exacting preparation: bronze has to be cast, silk has to be woven, bamboo or wooden slips have to be trimmed, and the stone for a freestanding stele must be quarried and shaped. But inscriptions on cliffs or boulders, on surfaces that the landscape painter Guo Xi (ca. 1000-ca. 1090) called “the bones of the earth, , , m ake use of material provided directly by nature itself.29 Not only were the surfaces for inscriptions free, but there was little regulation of access to sites where they accumulated. The earliest inscriptions on natural stone surfaces date from the Han dynasty, but the term mopa did not come into use until the eleventh century, when it appears to have been coined by Ouyang Xiu. The literal meaning of the two characters that make up this term is “to polish a cliff” or “polished cliff.”3。This refers to the process of smoothing stone to prepare it to receive carved characters. An inscription on a surface treated in this way, such as the Inscriptionfor the Record ofMt. Tai (see fig. 4.15), recalls the shape of a stele and often is referred to as such. The inscription resembles a stele also in displaying orderly characters of uniform size set within an incised

Fig. 1.2. “ In s c r ib in g a c l i f f . ” 1609. W o o d b lo c k . F ro m

A s s e m b le d P ic t u r e s o f th e T h re e R e a lm s ( S a n c a i t u h u i) ( S t a r r L ib r a r y , C o lu m b ia U n iv e r s it y ) .

grid. The term moya is used also, somewhat illogically, to designate inscriptions carved on untreated surfaces (see fig. 1.5). Producing an inscription required at least two steps:writing the characters with a brush and then carving them in stone. In the simplest and the most ancient method, called shudan, “writing in cinnabar,” a calligrapher brushed characters directly on stone using red pigment to make the characters easier to see.31 Carvers then completed the inscription by transforming the strokes into chiseled incisions. This process demanded, of course, that the calligrapher go to the site, ideally with the help of a servant to carry his writing supplies. This act appears in Chinese pictorial art and was illustrated in the Ming d y n a s t y encyclopedia Assembled Pictures of the Three Realms (Sancai tuhui), published in 1609. The scene in this woodblock image is labeled tibi,or “writing on a wall/* t u t the wall is actually a stone cliff (fig. I.2).32 Unlike a person seated at or standing before a writing table and bending over to produce calligraphy, the writer of a cliff inscription, as shown in the woodblock,

stands upright, his erect body parallel to the writing surface. The modern scholar Guo Rongzhang describes this process of writing as a dialogue between the site in the landscape and the body of the calligrapher.33This dialogue requires more action than writing on paper or silk, which can be moved up and down or from right to left as the calligrapher fills the surface with characters. To write outdoors on a large stone, the calligrapher himself must move, climbing up ladders or scaffolding if necessary.34 To write characters close to the ground, on the other hand, the callig­ rapher must squat down in front of the stone, the movements of his body prefigur­ ing those required of a reader following the columns of the inscribed text. According to a definition formulated by the Qing dynasty epigrapher Feng Yunpeng (fl. late nineteenth century), “to go to a mountain and carve it, this is called moya!'^ Although the writers who provided the calligraphy for inscriptions rarely carved the characters themselves, the necessity of travel implicit in Feng’s definition was one element of how moya were understood— as the work of a calligrapher stand­ ing outdoors writing a text intended for a reader who would stand in the same place.36 But it was not always necessary, or practicable, for calligraphers to write directly on the stone where an inscription was to appear. Instead, they could brush characters on sheets of paper that were entrusted to expert craftsmen who trans­ ferred the calligraphy to stone using a method employed also for stele inscriptions. In this process, the original brush-written characters were traced on a sheet of translucent paper and then outlined in red on the back;this faithful copy was then pressed against the surface where the text was to appear.37Guided by the red outlines transferred to the stone, carvers completed the inscription just as they would have if characters had been brushed directly on the stone. Even very large characters written on joined sheets of paper could be reproduced in this way. Moya inscriptions have been written in all the basic Chinese script types— seal, clerical, cursive, running, and standard. The overwhelming majority of inscrip­ tions from the Han dynasty were in clerical script, whereas standard script, which began to assume its mature form slightly later, became the “default” script type for writing on stone from the fifth century onward. Both these script types have the virtue of being highly legible, which made them desirable for displays of texts addressed to a public readership. Purely as graphic designs, characters in clerical and standard scripts, written with separate motions of the brush in tightly inte­ grated units, convey a sense of order and regularity that the linked strokes and abbreviations of cursive script do not. Although the visual presentation and contents of many moya inscriptions, especially those on polished stone, are no different from those of steles, some display a degree of calligraphic freedom virtually unknown in other forms of epigraphy. This has been attributed, at least in some cases, to the roughness of stone surfaces,

Fig. 1.3. In s c r ip t io n

on B u r y in g a C ra n e ( y ih e m in g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n (re c o n s tru c te d ). M t . J ia o , Z h e n jia n g , J ia n g s u . P h o to : C o u r te s y o f X u e L e i.

which makes orderly structuring of characters difficult to achieve. But calligraphers also willfully produced unusual forms. An extreme example of this phenomenon is se e n in

a fa m o u s inscription d a ta b le to th e e a r ly sixth century, Inscription on Burn­

ing a Crane (Yihe ming).38 The stone carving was destroyed sometime before the eleventh century but is known today through early rubbings and through fragments recovered from the Yangzi River, where, according to a traditional account, the inscrip­ tion fell when struck by lightning (earthquake seems a more likely cause). Its char­ acters seem to expand and contract, as if clinging to the rough surface of the stone (fig. 1.3). In the eyes of critics and theorists of calligraphy, the free, untrammeled qualities of moya inscriptions such as this were “heroic” (xionghun),“natural” (tianran), and “archaically simple” (gupu). Characters carved directly on untreated surfaces have been likened also to natural formations.39 There were limits, however, to the degree of calligraphic innovation that scholars of epigraphy were prepared to savor. Hong Gua, writing about a Han inscription carved in Sichuan, complained that “the brushwork is awkward and elongated on the stone of the cliff, so that the structure of the characters is incorrect and there is nothing to be gained from them ., , 40

Exposed to the eroding power of wind and water, wide fluctuations in tem­ perature, and earthquakes, outdoor inscriptions, whatever their calligraphic form, begin to disappear as soon as they are completed. The deeper the carving, the more likely the writing will survive;surprisingly, however, inscriptions on smoothed stone surfaces tend to wear down faster owing to the countless tiny cracks in the outer “skin” of the stone induced by this abrasive process, and the less the writing alters the natural surface, the longer it w ill last.41 Human interventions also affect the durability and the legibility of carved texts. Before coming under the protection of various cultural agencies in China in modern times, famous inscriptions appear to have been freely accessible to rubbing makers. Their seemingly benign craft, which required pounding carved surfaces with ink pads,gouging holes for the construction of scaffolding, or walking on inscriptions carved on horizontal sur­ faces, inflicted great damage. As W u Hung has noted, each rubbing taken from an inscription is an index of its ongoing deterioration.42 Moya inscriptions, like steles, have also been subjected to w illful vandalism. An inscription on Mt. Tai by Emperor Song Zhenzong (r. 997-1022) suffered the ignominy of being defaced by impudent graffiti carved over it during the Ming dynasty (see plate 19).43 Although writers expected inscriptions to remain in place forever, this was not always their fate. Some have been hacked from walls of natural rock and put on view in museums.44In the case of the Stone Gate inscriptions, which are the subject of chapter i 3carved texts were removed from a river valley to preserve them from being submerged by the waters of a reservoir. Whatever its state of preservation, an inscription can be made more legible and more visually sumptuous by filling in the characters with pigments.45It is dif­ ficult to establish when this practice began;the earliest historical reference, dis­ cussed in chapter 4,dates from the thirteenth century, and the use of colors was common by the Ming dynasty.46 Today, bright red, white, green, and blue colors ornament inscriptions throughout China. The choice of colors and the decision to restore the pigments, which can determine whether or not an inscription remains legible, now rest with the authorities who maintain sites such as Mt. Tai, where fresh colors are applied to important inscriptions every four or five years.47

FOUR LA N D S C A P E S AND A P O S T S C R IP T Like a ruler who demands that his subjects appear in homage before him, moya inscriptions place exacting demands on readers:they are not only texts but also destinations that require what might be termed peripatetic reading, achieved only by moving through space.48 The heart of The Landscape of Words consists of four

chapters structured in the form of journeys to the locations of four very different types of texts from different moments in the history of writing on stone. In chapter i, I examine the earliest group of inscriptions in China, found at the Stone Gate tunnel in Shaanxi. These texts, dating from the first through the early sixth century, represent a form of writing that first appeared in the Han dynasty and was addressed to an unrestricted public readership. The contents of the inscriptions commemorate the acts and personal virtues of government officials who supervised work on a vital road linking Shaanxi and Sichuan. Although the rhetoric and literary form of the inscriptions recall those of epitaphs, they did not mark the locations of tombs but were emblazoned in a spectacular landscape that had been transformed by the interventions of the men named in the texts. The inscriptions, like others carved on freestanding steles, also embody political and regional alliances linking those who composed and carved the inscriptions. The poems and site names carved on mountains in northern Shandong by Zheng Daozhao (4557-516) had little to do with government or public affairs;these inscriptions, which are the subjects of chapter i, were intended to create topo­ graphical analogues of mythic realms defined by directional symbolism and by the imagined presence of supernatural beings. On the most densely inscribed of these sites, Cloud Peak Mountain, texts guide a reader upward toward the summit, grad­ ually transforming the actual mountain that one can see, climb, and touch into a representation of paradise. The structure of this transfigured landscape was analo­ gous to the space of a tomb and was designed for the posthumous benefit of Zheng Daozhao’s father. This feat of representation was achieved not through buildings or landscaping but through the power of writing alone. Buddhist sutras and names of deities carved in large characters on mountains in Shandong during the second half of the sixth century also transformed the sites where they appear. Focusing on Mt. Tie, I argue in chapter 3 that Buddhist sacred texts were understood as embodiments of the Buddha's presence; in light of this belief, a sutra carved on a mountain was worthy of the same veneration directed toward relics and icons. The overwhelming scale of the carved sutras also gave visual expression to concepts of vastness central to Buddhist thought. Like colossal statues carved during the same period, massive texts signified the limitless power of Bud­ dhist law and displayed the pious devotion of patrons and donors. Like the great sutra transcriptions of the sixth century, texts carved on Mt. Tai at the command of Chinese emperors were intended to inspire awe in those who viewed them. In the eighth century, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty ascended Mt. Tai to conduct the portentous/en^ sacrifice on the summit. A massive inscrip­ tion in the emperor's own hand, Inscription for the Record ofMt. Tai, documents this event. The subject of chapter 4, Xuanzong’s text marks a climax in the early history

of writing on stone in China. Interpreted w ithin the history of art made for and by the rulers of China, the inscription is an example of what can be termed an auto­ graphic monument, a form of political representation invented by Emperor Taizong (r. 626-649) in the seventh century and employed with spectacular results by his great-grandson on Mt. Tai. In a short commentary on inscriptions carved in and around Longyin Cave in Guilin, Chen Yuanlong (1652-1736) claimed, “To look at the mountains is like gazing at a painting, and roaming in the mountains is like reading histo ry., , 4; This observation could have applied to thousands of sites in China, where, by the Qing dynasty, carving inscriptions had become a nationwide craze. In the eyes of some sensitive travelers, landscape inscriptions were unsightly defacements of scenery, the products of vulgar tourists and self-important government officials. The “Postscript” (chapter 5) examines briefly the later history of carved writing at the loca­ tions studied in the previous chapters and shows that in spite of the reservations of some critics, moya inscriptions, like colophons and poems written on landscape paintings, became an integral part of Chinese visual culture and remain an impor­ tant form of public art appropriated by those who wield political and cultural power in China today.

C h a p t e r One

P u b lic Works a n d P u b lic W riting a t t h e S t o n e G a te For anyone traveling northeastward by land from the Sichuan basin to the heart­ land of Shaanxi, the looming Qinling Mountains are a formidable barrier. Pene­ trated today by a paved highway, the mountains once were crossed by very different roads— wooden structures called zhandao set into the sides of cliffs over narrow river valleys and chasms where roads on level ground were impossible to build. A site near the southern terminus of one of the zhandao, known as the Bao-Xie Road (Bao-Xie dao), was a source of special wonder for travelers, not because the roadway clung to a precipitous cliff but because it went through a wall of solid rock on the west bank of the Bao River (fig. i.i).1This tunnel, known as the Stone Gate (Shimen), was opened in 66 c . e . It was only about sixteen meters long, but nothing like it had been seen before in China. Over the next several centuries the Stone Gate came to be viewed as a strategic point of entry into the area of modern Sichuan traditionally known as Shu, south of the Qinling Mountains.2

Fig. 1.1. T h e S to n e G a te , c a . 1969, s h o r t ly b e f o r e c o n ­ s tr u c tio n o f th e Bao V a lle y R e s e rv o ir. H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. P h o to :SM SK, f r o n t m a tte r.

In the early sixth century the tunnel attracted the notice of the traveler and geographer Li Daoyuan (d. 527), who included a detailed entry on the Stone Gate in his survey of the natural and built environment of China, Commentary on the Water C/asszc (Shuijing zhu).3By the time Li Daoyuan compiled his volume, the tunnel had become more than simply a marvel of civil engineering. Anyone passing through the Stone Gate always could have seen, quite literally, light at either end, but a trav­ eler equipped with a torch could have seen much more:inside were words, hundreds of words, that began to accumulate not long after the tunnel was completed in the first century c . e . (figs. i.2a-b). Along with inscriptions carved on cliffs overlooking the Bao River, those inside the tunnel transformed this point on the Bao-Xie Road into a repository of texts accessible to anyone making the journey through the mountains.4Not only are these inscriptions among the oldest of any kind in China, but they also represent the beginning of what gradually became a ubiquitous feature of Chinese visual culture:large-scale texts in the durable medium of stone addressed to a public readership. The Stone Gate inscriptions illuminate the early history of what I term “public writing” in China, which radically expanded during the Han dynasty, when the status of texts and writing of all kinds was in flux. Reflected also in the inscriptions are developments in social and intellectual history that prompted members of the literate Han elite to develop new forms of self-representation addressed both to their contemporaries and to readers in the future. Like modern plaques and signs on public-works projects such as bridges or dams, early inscriptions at the Stone Gate documented feats of administration and engineering backed by the resources of government, and they can be read as fragments of a vast network of texts essential to the functioning of the Han Empire. But the power of the state is of secondary importance in the inscriptions:although the building and maintenance of the BaoXie Road, of which the tunnel was a part, were financed by public funds and were motivated by political, military, and economic needs that affected huge numbers of people, the carved texts concern the acts of individuals. Rhetorically, the inscrip­ tions were similar to epitaphs that recorded the public acts and private virtues of the deceased. Semiotically, however, the inscriptions were different:they marked locations, not where the dead were interred but where they had performed note­ worthy acts while they were alive. As the texts accumulated over a period of several centuries, they not only commemorated the deeds of individual men but also embodied political and regional bonds linking those who composed, supervised, or paid to have them carved. The texts at the Stone Gate were cut into the same schistose geological for­ mation from which the tunnel itself had been excavated. Read in situ, as all moya inscriptions were intended to be read, they referred directly to the surrounding

physical environment shaped by the hands of men eulogized in the inscriptions. Unlike freestanding steles, the walls of the tunnel and the cliffs outside offered almost unlimited space for the addition of later carvings related both in content and in visual form to those placed at the site earlier. Demonstrating how one inscrip­ tion in a landscape seems to attract others— a process that continues to this day at many sites in China— the texts were knitted together by their proximity in space, shared medium, intertextual references, and affinities of calligraphic style.

Fig. 1 .2 a . L o c a t io n s o f i n s c r ip t io n s o n t h e w e s t w a ll o f t h e S to n e G a te t u n n e l. D r a w in g a f t e r SM SK, 3. C o u r te s y o f P ila r P e te r s , ( a ) E u lo g y o f th e F o r m e r M e t r o p o lit a n C o m m a n d a n t , H is

L o r d s h ip Y a n g o f jia n w e i (G u s ilix ia o w e i J ia n w e i y a n g j u n s o n g ) . A ls o k n o w n a s E u lo g y o f th e S t o n e G a te ( S h im e n s o n g ) . 148 . (b ) M a rk e r f o r H is L o r d s h ip L i / u o f l^/uyang (W u y a n g Li j u n b ia o ) . 155. ( c ) M a rk e r R e c o r d f o r Y a n g H u a i a n d Y a n g B i ( y a n g H u a i y a n g Bi b ia o ji) . 173. ( d )

S t o n e G a te ( S h im e n ) . U n d a te d .

Fig. 1 .2 b . L o c a t io n o f in s c r ip t io n s o n t h e e a s t w a ll o f t h e S to n e G a te t u n n e l . D r a w in g a f t e r SM SK, 3. C o u r te s y o f P ila r P e te r s , (e ) I n s c r ip t io n f o r t h e S t o n e G a t e ( S h im e n m in g ) . 509 . ( f )

L it t le R e c o r d o f th e S t o n e G a t e ( X ia o S h im e n j i ) . 509.

Unfortunately, writing about the Stone Gate inscriptions today poses more than the usual problems faced by a historian trying to choose the appropriate verb tenses to describe the production of works of art in the past (“the master crafts­ man carved the characters”)and the visual forms they display in the present (“the characters tilt to the upper right”). For it is no longer possible to write about inscrip­ tions at the Stone Gate, only inscriptions that were at the Stone Gate. In the late 1960s a dam was constructed across the Bao River, submerging the tunnel and the remaining traces of the Bao-Xie Road under the waters of a reservoir. Before the dam was completed, however, the most important inscriptions were cut from the walls of the tunnel and from the surrounding cliffs, transported into the city of Hanzhong, and installed in the Hanzhong Municipal Museum— a colossal under­ taking described briefly at the end of this chapter and an ironic reprisal of the acts of carving stone that had produced both the tunnel and the carved texts centuries before.

T H E R O A D TO S H U The Qinling Mountains vary in elevation from one thousand to three thousand meters above sea level, but the nature of the barrier between Shaanxi and Sichuan formed by these peaks can be described more vividly in terms of climate than in terms of altitude. To the north lies the dry, loess-covered terrain of northern China, the area known since antiquity as Guanzhong, or the “Land w ithin the Passes,” subject to frigid winters and scorching summers;to the south of the mountains is the warm, lush Sichuan basin, its climate governed by monsoon cycles emanating from the Indian Ocean. The rivers on the northern slopes of the Qinling Mountains feed the Yellow River drainage system;on the southern slopes rivers flow to tributaries of the Yangzi.5 Throughout early Chinese history, states and empires to the north of the mountains attempted to secure control over the fertile lands of Sichuan, while people to the south sought to export their agricultural products and crafts, as well as their own political power, beyond the mountains encircling their homeland.6 The story of the Stone Gate and of the inscriptions that became an integral part of the terrain pierced by the tunnel begins in the late Warring States period, when roads were first built through the Qinling Mountains. As in the Roman Empire, road building was an essential task of government in early China.7 Good roads facilitated the movement of troops and the rapid dispatch of written orders while also fostering economic development through the efficient transport of goods. A pivotal event in the history^of Chinese road building was the invasion of the King-

Fig. 1 .3 . M a p s h o w in g t h e r o u t e o f t h e B a o -X ie R o a d in H a n tim e s .

dom of Shu by forces of the Qin state in 316 b .c .e . This campaign was made possible by the building of a route called the Stone Cattle Road (Shiniu dao), said to have been planned as part of an elaborate strategy by which King Hui of Qin (r. 337—311 b .c .e .) defeated the king of Shu.8 At least part of this road overlapped what came to be known as the Bao-Xie Road, which extended some 470 li, approximately 251 kilome­ ters, northward from the city ofBaocheng in the valley of the narrow, south-flowing Bao River, then eastward across the mountains to Meixian,in the valley of the north-flowing Xie River (fig. 1.3).9


The most remarkable sections of the Bao-Xie Road, as well as of several other roads through the Qinling Mountains built during the Qin and Western Han peri­ ods, consisted of zhandao,a term with no precise English equivalent, sometimes rendered as gallery road, plank road, or cliff-face road.10These structures were first mentioned in the Intrigues of the Warring States (Zhanguo ce),which records the existence of a zhandao constructed during the reign of King Z h a o (r. 306-251 b . c . e .)

that extended for one thousand /z from the territory of Qin, in modern Shaanxi, into the Kingdom of Shu.11 According to Sima Qian’s Historical Records (Shiji), the construction of this road “caused all the world to fear Qin.”12These early sources do not describe how the zhandao were built, but the basic engineering probably was not very different from that described in the Tang dynasty by the poet Ouyang Zhan (ca. 757-ca. 802): They erect huge timber cantilevers to support the carvers, and hemp ropes are suspended to let down carpenters, just like gibbons hanging in the void or birds beside precipitous cliffs. They chisel holes into the piled stones with complete force, and beams are inserted into them, extending into space, to create a wooden railing.13 (iA) As Ouyang Zhan’s account makes clear, construction of zhandao, which was facilitated by the use of iron tools, required drilling holes into solid rock to support horizontal beams. Below, diagonal struts or vertical pillars, sometimes inserted into the rocky banks of streams or rivers, provided support, and planks laid over this framework formed the surface of the roadway.14 It is this type of structure that is depicted in a celebrated painting titled Minghuang's Journey to Shu (Minghuang xing Shu), which is attributed to the Tang artist Li Sixun (653-718) or his son Li Zhaodao (fl. ca. 670730) but is likely a copy dating to a later period (fig. 1.4). Although the travelers represented in the upper left of the painting seem to move calmly along the zhandao, the roads were flimsy and frightening.15 Subject to ruin because of rotting timbers and rock slides, and targets for destruction in times of war, the roads required constant maintenance. Traces of the Bao-Xie Road in the form of postholes cut into rock remained visible into the twentieth century.16The most durable remnant of the road was the Stone Gate tunnel itself, which was still passable up to the day the waters of the Bao Valley Reservoir covered it forever. A modern engineer and historian of tunnels has written:“The mere existence of a tunnel, at any time and place, is evidence that the problems created by a flourishing economy have reached such magnitude that they cannot be solved by conventional m eans., ’17 The problem solved by the Stone Gate tunnel was that of how to extend the Bao-Xie Road past a treacherous site north of the small city of Baocheng, where the Seven Twists Mountain (Qipanshan) jutted into the river valley and made the continuation of the zhandao all but impossible. Boring through the mountain enabled road builders to link two sections of roadway north and south of the entrance of the tunnel. According to an archaeological report from the early 1960s, the tunnel was approximately 16 meters long, 3.5 meters high, and 4.3 meters wide— capacious

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Fig. 1 .4 . A n o n y m o u s , M in g h u a n g ’s J o u r n e y to S h u . U n d a te d , c a . n in t h t o t e n t h c e n t u r y . H a n g in g s c r o ll, in k a n d c o lo r s o n s ilk , 5 5 .9 x 81 c m . N a t io n a l P a la c e M u s e u m , T a ip e i.

enough to accommodate carriages of the Han period, which could move directly into the tunnel from the level wooden roadbed of the zhandao.18The question of how the tunnel was bored fascinated visitors to the site and later road builders. In his “Song of the Stone Gate” (Shimen ge), composed to commemorate a reconstruction of part of the Bao-Xie Road carried out between 1662 and 1668,Liang Qingkuan proposed that heaps of firewood had been used to heat the stone, after which “chiseling and carving were like shaving bean curd., , 19 The process Liang envisioned is known as fire quenching, accomplished by heating stone and then pouring water over it to make it crack.20Once stone was loosened in this simple but effective way, tunnelers

could insert metal wedges and chisels into the cracks, their work not as easy perhaps as shaving bean curd but requiring less effort than would attacking the stone directly. P r e s id in g o v e r la b o r o f t h is k in d in th e firs t c e n t u r y c . e . w e r e m e n o t h e r w is e

unknown to history whose achievements were recorded at the Stone Gate.

T H E GOO D W O R K OF G O V E R N O R CHU A N D T H E E M P I R E OF W R I T I N G The Stone Gate was a short segment of a long, vital transportation artery;but it was there, not at other points, that the names of men who oversaw work on the Bao-Xie Road marked the landscape. The earliest inscription appeared about 250 meters south of the southern entrance of the tunnel, on a cliff overlooking the Bao River (fig. 1.5). The inscription has no title and has been recorded in works of epigraphy under various labels;the simplest, Opening the Bao-Xie Road (Kaitong Bao-Xie dao), is adopted here: 21 In the sixth year of the Yongping era (63 c.e.), Hanzhong Commandery, in accordance with an imperial edict, received from Guanghan and Shu commanderies and from Ba Commandery 2,690 convict laborers [to open] the Bao-Xie [Road].22 The governor, His Lordship Chu of Julu (Hebei), and Administrative Secretaries Zhi fi, Wang Hong, Shi Xunmao, Zhang Yu, and Han Cendi took charge of the work. The aide to the governor, Yang Xian [of Guanghan, Sichuan],23supervised the mate­ rials [?]• They began the building of 623 sections of gallery roads24 and five large bridges to create a road of 258 li and a total of sixty-four postal hostels and relay stations, a directorate of convict labor, and govern­ ment offices in Baozhong County, using in total more than 766,800 men and 369,804 tiles.25 The money used was more than 1,499,400 hu of grain. It was completed in the fourth month of the ninth year (66 c . e .) . F ro m Y iz h o u e a st to th e c a p ita l it is n o w p e a c e f u lly s e c u re . (iB )

Addressing us across a gap of nearly two thousand years, this brief text can be inter­ preted in several ways:as an artifact of the bureaucracy of the Han dynasty;as a form of public monument still in its infancy in China— the stone inscription;and as a work of calligraphy that embodied the content of the text in a particular visual form. To interpret the inscription within any of these categories demands that it be under­ stood in relation to the administrative procedures and political geography of the Han Empire in the first century c.e .26 During this period the Han capital was located in Luoyang, in modern Henan, and it most likely was from this city that Emperor Ming

Fig. 1 .5 . O p e n in g th e

B a o - X ie R o a d ( K a it o n g B a o - X ie d a o ) . 6 6 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , h e ig h t r a n g e s f r o m 80 t o 125 c m , w id t h 276 c m . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m , H a n ­ z h o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f G uo R o n g z h a n g . (T h is b lu r r e d p h o t o g r a p h is t h e o n ly k n o w n im a g e o f t h e in s c r ip t io n in s itu . B e lo w O p e n in g th e B a o -

X ie R o a d is a n e x p lic a ­ t i o n o f t h e t e x t b y Yan M a o [ f l . c a . 1 1 9 3 - 1 1 9 4 ]. F o r a d e t a il o f y a n , s in s c r ip t io n , s e e fig . 5 .3 .)

(r. 58-75) issued the edict setting in motion the rebuilding of the Bao-Xie Road.27 Although there is no record of what considerations led the emperor to make this decision, it was only on the command of the central government, and with state funds allocated for the project, that work on this scale could commence. The orders dispatched from Luoyang would have reached Governor Chu in Hanzhong Commandery. This administrative unit encompassed land in the valley of the Han River divided today between Shaanxi and Hubei. The seat of the commandery, or jun, where the governor would have had his offices, was Nanzheng, located to the southeast of the modern city of Hanzhong. Guanghan, Ba, and Shu were commanderies farther south in the Sichuan basin (see fig. 1.3). Baozhong, centered near the modern city of Baocheng, was a smaller administrative area known as a xian, or county, at the south­ ern terminus of the Bao-Xie Road. Yizhou was the region corresponding roughly to the modern province of Sichuan. Although the imperial capital during the Eastern

Han period was Luoyang, the capital mentioned in the inscription may have been Chang’an. This city, site of modern Xi'an, had been the capital during the Western Han and remained the economic and political hub of western China, easily accessible to travelers after crossing the Qinling Mountains via the Bao-Xie Road. As a piece of prose writing, Opening the Bao-Xie Road d is p la y s no literary ambi­ tions whatsoever. The final two characters, anwen, or “peacefully secure, , ’ mark the limit of descriptive eloquence reached in the text. The rest takes the form of a list of facts:the names of the men responsible for work on the road and their official ranks, the numbers of laborers employed, the length of the road and number of associated buildings completed, the materials used, and the funds expended tabu­ lated in units of grain. No author or sponsor is named, and there is no identification of the “voice” that speaks from the carved words. Judging from later circumstances under which inscriptions at the Stone Gate and elsewhere in this region were pro­ duced, it is likely that one of the junior officials named in the text took charge of having the characters carved, perhaps with the approval of Governor Chu himself. S u r p r is in g ly , g iv e n th e n o v e lt y o f th e a c h ie v e m e n t, t h e t u n n e l is n o t m e n tio n e d in

the inventory of construction overseen by Governor Chu and his staff, though the location of the inscription, just outside the tunnel, signifies that this was a site of critical importance in the three-year-long campaign of work. Later inscriptions at the Stone Gate also leave no doubt that the tunnel was completed during the Yongping reign period (58-76 c.e.), when the work recorded in Opening the Bao-Xie Road was carried out.28 What the inscription does carefully note is that in addition to building 258 li of zhandao (approximately 108 kilometers), the project encompassed the construction of local outposts of the Han bureaucracy responsible for relaying messages and supporting traveling officials, as well as government offices in Baozhong County. The roads, post stations, and other buildings mentioned in the inscription were mutually reinforcing elements in a vast bureaucratic system made possible by the circulation of documents. As officers of this bureaucracy, Governor Chu and his subordinates were agents of what has been called “the empire of writing .”29 Intel­ lectually and ideologically, this “empire” was founded on the works of history, philosophy, and literature at the heart of the education received by men like Gov­ ernor Chu and other officeholders. Although low-ranking scribes and clerks drawn from the local population may have had much less education, advancement in official life was greatly facilitated by mastery of classical learning. On a more literal and practical level, “the empire of writing” encompassed imperial edicts, memori­ als, records of legal matters, police reports, registers of soldiers, travel logs, inven­ tories, and countless other types of documents that were the lifeblood of the Han administration.30

A good indication of how texts facilitated the governance of the Han empire is implicit in the events recorded in Opening the Bao-Xie Road. The project of road building began with the issuance of one document, the edict from Emperor Ming, which probably was conveyed to Governor Chu in the form of inscribed wooden or bamboo slips; the production of another text, the inscription outside the tunnel, marked the completion of the project. One text decreed that action be taken;another certified that orders were carried out. For commandery governors, the most impor­ tant documents concerning their work were the reports by regional inspectors that were dispatched annually to Luoyang in time for the New Year.31 The regional inspector’s report on Governor Chu, s administration in Hanzhong covering the year 66


.e .

surely documented work on the zhandao and the tunnel, complete with

figures corresponding to those recorded in Opening the Bao-Xie Road. No regulations required that Governor Chu publicize this information in the form of an on-site summary of the resources and time required to carry out the orders he had received from Emperor Ming, but the inscription did just that in a form of disclosure that today we might term “openness in government.” It also left no doubt a*bout who was responsible for the work. The referential logic of the inscription, shaped by its content and its location, was like that of seals, signatures, and records of manufacture placed on objects produced by palace and private workshops in early China. As Lothar Ledderose has shown, foremen who supervised the manufacture of the life-sized terra-cotta figures of the army guarding the tomb of the First Emperor of Qin (r. 221-210 b . c . e .) were required to inscribe or stamp their names on the figures, not to signify the unique­ ness of their creative abilities but to serve as a tool of quality control:traceable by their names recorded on the objects they made, those responsible for poor work­ manship could be identified and punished.32 Inscriptions on bronze and lacquer objects made for imperial use served the same function, recording information such as the date of manufacture and the names of workmen in charge of various stages of fashioning these luxury goods.33If one imagines Opening the Bao-Xie Road as a record of production placed not on an object but at the site of a vast public-works project, affixed to the surface of the earth at a point where the successful completion of this project was most conspicuous, the inscription takes its place among the countless surviving documents of Han administration, bureaucracy, and govern­ mental control. If the road construction had been carried out improperly, or if time or money had been wasted, Governor Chu and his subordinates named in the inscrip­ tion would have been those held accountable. But, clearly, there was nothing to hide; the public declaration of the success of the project suggests just the opposite:the men responsible could point to the tunnel, the winding gallery roads, and the build­ ings they oversaw with a legitimate sense of pride.

While the content of Opening the Bao-Xie Road echoes that of administrative documents inscribed on silk, bamboo, or wood, as well as records of manufacture placed on portable objects of bronze, lacquer, or other media that were used in private settings, the intended readership of the inscription, determined by its material, size, and format, was radically different. Like Latin inscriptions displayed on Roman monuments, or Arabic texts on the exteriors of mosques and other structures in the Muslim world that address readers in a public space, Opening the Bao-Xie Road was accessible to anyone who happened to pass the site where it was carved.34The place­ ment of the inscription ensured that it would be viewed by many individual readers at different moments in time, while the large size of the characters could make them legible to groups of readers viewing the text simultaneously.35 The forms in which writing addressed a public readership in early China, especially before the Eastern Han period, are known from scattered historical records and limited archaeological evidence. The writing about which we have the most knowledge was accessible only to small numbers of people, not simply because few people were literate but because of the formats in which these texts were writ­ ten and the religious and political functions they served. The earliest known writ­ ing in China was inscribed on oracle bones and cast on bronze vessels. These inscriptions, as well as texts written on perishable materials now lost to us, could be read only by those who had access to the temples or palaces where such objects were displayed or stored during the Shang and Zhou dynasties.36 Although, as Martin Kern has shown, the display and presentation of texts at Zhou ceremonies of royal appointment were essential elements of these solemn events, the cast or brush-written characters were seen only by those present on these occasions.37 Historical, religious, and philosophical texts, as well as administrative documents on rolls of silk or on wooden or bamboo slips, increased greatly in volume during the Eastern Zhou period, but owing to their material forms these writings also were limited to a small, select readership of scholars, ritual officiants, and government officers.38 Also belonging to the category of writing addressed to small groups of multiple readers were tablets of jade or other types of stone inscribed with the texts of covenants, such as those from the early fifth century b . c . e . discovered at Houma and Wenxian in Shanxi. These stones are believed to have been displayed to the assembled company of men joined by the covenants and read aloud before being buried in sacrificial pits, after which their readership was restricted to the world of spirits.39 There were occasions in early China when special efforts were made to dis­ play texts to as many readers as possible. According to the regulations of an ideal state specified in the Rituals ofZhou (Zhouli), compiled no later than the second cen­ tury b .c .e ., the chief minister, as well as each of six departments of government, were

required to post written laws on a tower of the palace gate to be read by all citizens at the beginning of each new year.40The presumption of widespread literacy that would have validated the display of the texts is one element of the idealized vision of society that The Rituals ofZhou proj­ ects. If such displays actually were carried out, their func­ tion probably was to create a symbolic representation of good government rather than to communicate informa­ tion through the texts themselves. This account of pre­ senting written documents to a public readership at the site of a gate in an urban setting resonates with a story concerning The Spring and Autumn Annals of Mister Lu (Lushi chunqiu). When this terse history was completed in 239 b. c . e ., it was displayed at the gate of the market in

the Qin capital of Xianyang with the announcement that a reward of one thousand pieces of gold would be given to anyone who could add or delete a single character, so per­ fect was the text.4IAccounts of texts displayed on palace and city gates in early China do not specify the material or format of these writings ;perhaps copies on wooden slips were hung at eye level, like newspapers tacked up in glassed outdoor cases for public reading in China today. Texts exhibited in this manner could be seen by many readers:as one finished and stepped aside, another could take his place perusing the small, brush-written charac­ ters. Unlike wooden or bamboo slips or silk scrolls, which can be read comfortably by only one or two people at a time, other formats for writing used during the Han dynasty could reach much wider audiences by being dis­ played in public spaces or by presenting large characters legible simultaneously to multiple readers. These included flags and military pennants, as well as banners inscribed with the names of the dead installed adjacent to coffins or carried in funeral processions.42 Several inscribed

Fig. 1 .6 . F u n e ra l b a n n e r f o r Z h a n g

funeral banners of this kind have come to light in Han

B o s h e n g . U n d a te d , W e s te rn H a n

tombs excavated in Gansu (fig. 1.6).43 While the portabil­

p e r io d , 206 B .C .£ .—9 C .£ . In k o n

ity of these objects allowed them to be seen by large num ­

h e m p , 120 x 41 c m . F ro m t o m b 23, M o z u iz i, G a n s u . G a n s u P r o v in c ia l

bers of readers, writing fixed in space also could reach a

M u s e u m , L a n z h o u . P h o t o :Z h o n g -

public readership. Among these forms of writing were

g u o m e is h u q u a n ji: s h u f a z h u a n k e b ia n . 1:69.

roof tiles bearing the names of the buildings they adorned or auspicious phrases intended to bring good fortune. W hile countless tiles emblazoned with writing from the Han dynasty still exist, what surely were the largest and most conspicuous works of writing for public view do not_ plaques or signs mounted on towers and other structures. One such plaque figures in a famous anecdote from the history of Chinese calligraphy;though the incident took place several decades after the fall of the Han dynasty, it probably reflects a long-standing practice of placing signs on important buildings. W hen the Tower Rising to the Clouds (Lingyuntai) was com­ pleted under Emperor Ming (r. 226-239) of the Wei dynasty, the plaque intended to bear the name of the building was set in place before it was inscribed. The noted calligrapher Wei Dan (179-253) was hauled up in a basket by means of a pulley, some 54 meters above the ground, where he was ordered to inscribe the required charac­ ters.44 This harrowing incident led Wei Dan to warn his sons against becoming proficient in calligraphy, lest they, too, suffer public humiliation brought on by skill with brush and ink. To these early records of public writing sanctioned by religious or political authority should be added accounts of unofficial, transgressive inscriptions that have been termed graffiti by modern scholars.45 In 172, students of the National University (Taixue), in Luoyang, were charged with writing graffiti that blamed court eunuchs for the recent death of Empress Dowager Dou. In 184 followers of the Yellow Turban rebel Zhang Jue defaced walls with the characters jiazi. This com­ pound announced the beginning of a new sexagenary cycle and the commencement of the Yellow Turban rebellion, which Zhang’s adherents expected to usher in a new dispensation under his leadership.46 Several of the examples cited above postdate the first inscription at the Stone Gate and can be used only tentatively to establish what forms of public writing could have been known to the original readers of Opening the Bao-Xie Road and could have shaped their perception of the carved text. It is more likely that they had seen funeral banners, roof tiles, plaques on buildings, or even scribbled graffiti on walls than it is that they had direct knowledge of what was, in the first century c •e •, a rare form for writing, though one destined to become ubiquitous in later centuries— words carved on s to n e . Indeed, literate travelers c o m in g upon Opening the Bao-Xie Road n o t long after it was carved would have had good reason to feel surprise at seeing this display of large characters. Even those who could not read probably would have recognized that the inscription was not only something rare and unfamiliar but also something of special importance, intended to endure long into the future. In the first century c . e ., educated people like Governor Chu and his assis­ tants, whom we assume made the decision to have the text carved, may have read about inscriptions on stone even if they had not actually seen any. Among the earli­

est references to writing on stone are passages from the Mozi,compiled during the late Warring States period. This text proclaims that sages of antiquity transmitted their wisdom in the form of words "written on bamboo and silk, cut into metal and stone, and polished on basins and vessels.”47 As Martin Kern has argued, however, the words “metal and stone” in the Mozi,as in passages from the Book ofRites (Liji) and Chronicle ofZuo (Zuozhuan), appear to refer to bronze vessels or bells and chime stones, not to inscriptions on steles or natural stone surfaces. Writing on stone does figure in a legend of uncertain date concerning the mythic journey of King Mu (956-918 b.c.e.) that may have circulated in the early Eastern Han period. On an inspection tour of remote western regions, the king is said to have inscribed selfglorifying texts on two mountain peaks.48The story of King M u, s alpine inscriptions resonates with a passage in the Historical Records, which notes that seventy-two sages of antiquity who ascended Mt. Tai to perforin the feng and shan sacrifices left traces of their visits in the form of stone inscriptions’ though no vestiges of these ancient carvings have been found on the mountain.49 Sima Qian’s record of texts carved on Mt. Tai and on other peaks in eastern China at the command of the First Emperor of Qin appears to be the earliest fully historical account of ancient stone inscriptions. Although none of the original seven stones set up by the First Emperor during his inspection tours in eastern C hina betw een 219 and 210 b.c .e. have survived, the texts

were transcribed by Sima Qian, and later eyewitnesses described seeing these mon­ uments. Several recuttings of the original calligraphy and fragments of texts added to the carvings by the second Q in emperor (r. 209-206

b . c . e .)

also are extant.50

Through legend or rumor or through access to literary or historical sources such as those cited above or, more improbably, through direct encounters with the First Emperor’s inscriptions in remote eastern China, those who wrote and read the carved text at the Stone Gate might have had knowledge of precedents for this form of public writing. Closer to Hanzhong, on the other side of the Qinling Mountains, it may have been possible to see stone artifacts bearing texts that were carved within the territory of the pre-imperial Qin state centered in Shaanxi. Among these arti­ facts, the best known in later centuries were the Stone Drums (Shigu), datable to the fifth century b.c.e.51These ten drum-shaped stones are incised with characters in large seal script; the texts are rhymed hymns celebrating the hunting expeditions of the Dukes of Qin (fig. 1.7). A second example of pre-imperial Qin inscriptions were the Imprecations against Chu (Zu Chu wen), dating from the late fourth century b . c . e . Known today only through rubbings and records of epigraphy, these inscriptions were carved on at least three separate stones, each bearing the same text but addressed to different spirits and placed at different locations. More overtly political in content than the Stone Drums, the Imprecations catalogue the evils of the king of Chu and request divine aid in defeating this enemy of the Qin state.52

Fig. 1.7. S t o n e D ru m , f r o m a s e t o f t e n . U n d a te d , c a . f i f t h c e n t u r y B .C .6. S to n e . H e ig h t, 85 c m . P a la c e M u s e u m , B e ijin g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f X u e L ei.

Turning from legendary accounts of sagely inscriptions and the august epig­ raphy of the Qin state to examples of writing on stone from the early Han dynasty, we find that the inventory of carved texts expands only slightly. In the eleventh century the pioneering antiquarian and epigrapher Ouyang Xiu declared that “as to inscriptions from the Western Han, they simply cannot be found., ’53 Later dis­ coveries have proven Ouyang Xiu wrong, but inscribed stones from the Western Han and from the Wang Mang interregnum (8-24 c . e .) remain limited to a handful of examples bearing terse, factual statements. These carved stones prefigure, how­ ever, the logic of later moya inscriptions by referring directly to the places where they were located and to events that occurred at these sites.54 One of the earliest known Han inscriptions, found at Shuiping in Hebei and datable to 158 b . c . e ., marked the site where a group of officials offered a ritual toast to the Prince of Zhao.55 An inscribed stone from the Lingguang Palace of the State of Lu, discovered outside the city of Qufu in Shandong, bears a date corresponding to 149 b.c •e . and proclaims that it was from “the northern steps, made in the sixth year, ninth month of Lu., , 56 Other stone inscriptions documented purchases of land and marked boundaries.

An example from 68 b.c.e. discovered in Ba County in Sichuan records a pur­ chase of land for i

, io o

cash by someone

named Yang Tong. The inscription also warns Yang’s sons and grandsons to preserve the family property.57 A rect­ angular stone dated 16 c . e . discovered in Zou County in Shandong, known as the Carved Stone ofLaizi Hou (Laizi Hou keshi), bears a similar text that docu­ ments the construction of a ritual mound known as a feng, on which the stone was placed, and admonishes descendants to preserve it.58 Inscriptions from the Western Han and Wang Mang periods appear on stones of different sizes;some are lightly finished and have incised deco­ rative borders, and others, such as the stone from the Lingguang Palace, are rectangular slabs used in the construc­ tion of buildings. What would become the most popular format for carved writing in later periods, the freestand­ ing stele, was presaged by the Carved Stone for Biao Xiaoyu (Biao Xiaoyu keshi), a limestone slab a little over one and a half meters high with a rounded

Fig. 1 .8 . C a r v e d S t o n e f o r B ia o X ia o y u ( B ia o X ia o y u k e s h i) . 26 B .C .E . S to n e , 162 x 4 4 c m . F ro m P in g y i, S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g P r o v in ­

top on which images of a roof and two

c ia l M u s e u m , J i,n a n . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f

cranes were incised (fig. 1.8). Two lines

C he n L i- w e i.

of text record a date corresponding to 26 b . c . e ., the name of Biao Xiaoyu, and his place of origin. This proto-stele found near Pingyi in Shandong may have been the spirit throne or marker of a tomb mound of the man whose name it bears.59A rectangular stone, measuring 90 x 45 centimeters, discovered at Yuyao Kexingshan in Zhejiang is another early carving that looks forward to the format of later steles. Its text, divided by incised lines into one vertical and four horizontal sections, records the names of descendants of a man whose personal name was Tong. This individual, who died in 52 c . e ., bore the honorary title “Thrice Venerable” (San lao), which was conferred by the Han state

Fig. 1.9. S t e le o f t h e G a lle r y R o a d o f t h e G o v e r n o r o f S h u , H is L o r d s h ip H e ( S h u ju n t a i s h o u H e ju n g e d a o b e i) . 57. In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n . R o n g jin g C o u n ty , S ic h u a n . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f X u e Lei.

on men over the age of fifty who were expected to serve as models of virtuous conduct in their local counties.60 Even rarer than inscribed freestanding stones during the Western Han and early Eastern Han periods were mopa inscriptions on cliffs or boulders. At Alashanmeng in Inner Mongolia an inscription commemorating a battle victory during the time of Emperor W u was discovered in 1994. The two hundred badly eroded characters of the text covered 2.25 square meters.61 A moya. inscription discovered in 1987 on an island off the coast of Jiangsu at Lianyungang marked the boundary between Donghai and Langya commanderies. Though dated by some scholars to the early Western Han, the calligraphy, in fully mature clerical script, seems to date from a later period, perhaps closer to the early first century c.e . 62 Another moya inscription, dated 89 c.e., was placed on Mt. Yanran in Inner Mongolia at the site of a/e% mound erected to celebrate a victory over the Xiongnu barbarians. The text of this monument was composed by the historian Ban Gu (d. 92 c.e.).63

The majority of stone inscriptions from the Western Han and Wang Mang periods that predate Opening the Bao-Xie Road were concentrated in eastern China, especially in the territory of modern Shandong, where, during the subsequent Eastern Han period, more writing on stone was produced than in any other part of China. Among these was a stele carved in 56 c.e. to commemorate the journey of Emperor Guangwu (r. 25-57 c.e.) to Mt. Tai and his performance there of thtfeng and shan sacrifices (discussed in chapter 4). It was in Sichuan, however, that the practice of carving inscriptions to commemorate work on roads and bridges first appeared. Of all texts that predate the opening of the Stone Gate, three carved in Sichuan are closest to Opening the Bao-Xie Road in form and content. The first, carved at the surprisingly early date of 2 b . c . e ., was found in Pi County of Shu Commandery, near Chengdu. The original inscription is lost, but the text was recorded in the twelfth century by Hong Gua under the title Stele of Pi County of the Jianping Era (Jianping Pixian bei): In the sixth month of the fifth year of the Jianping era (2 B.C.), the general-purpose clerk of Pi [County], Fan Gongping, sent stone masons and convict laborers to build the present road, a length of twenty-five zhang,at a cost of 25,000 [cash].64 (iC) According to Hong Gua, the work supervised by Fan Gongping was carried out at a place called Canya (Silkworm Cliff) in modern Rongjing. There, workers bored into the side of a cliff, not to create a tunnel, no trace of which has ever been found, but to open a short section of roadway on a stone embankment.65 Over fifty years later, similar inscriptions were carved to commemorate two campaigns of roadwork in the same area of Shu Commandery. The first, dated 57 c . e ., was recorded by Hong Gua and by several later scholars of epigraphy. Long believed to have been lost, the inscrip­ tion was rediscovered in Rongjing in 2004 (fig-1.9): 66 The governor of Shu Commandery, His Lordship He of Pingling, dis­ patched the clerk Shu Wei of Linqiong (Sichuan) to lead convict labor­ ers to build a gallery road at Zunjian. They made a length of 55 zhang of trestles, using 1,198 workdays. It was completed in the sixth month of the second year of the Jianwu zhongyuan era (57 c . e .). S u p e r v is e d by the clerks Ren Yun and Chen Chun.67 (iD) Shu Wei, the clerk entrusted with overseeing the roadwork at Zunjian, must have done a good job. A year later, according to an inscription of 58 c . e ., Governor He dispatched the same man to supervise another campaign of work: 督

On the sixth day of the fourth month of the first year of the Yongping era (58 c •e .) of the Han, the governor of Shu Commandery, His Lordship He of Pingling, sent the clerk Shu Wei of Linqiong to this place to build [a road] with 18,400 convict laborers. Having completed the work, it is thus recorded.68 (iE) While it is impossible to know whether or not Governor Chu or the other men responsible for the first inscription at the Stone Gate were aware of these monuments in the adjoining Shu Commandery, the three earlier texts commemorate nearly identical events in a shared language of bureaucratic documentation, naming officials otherwise unknown to history who were responsible for the work and recording information about the numbers of laborers employed, the duration of the projects, and their costs.69 The three texts documenting road building in Sichuan are like Opening the Bao-Xie Road also in referring directly to the sites where they appeared. Like Sir Christopher Wren’s epitaph in St. Paul’s Cathedral一 “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”一 the Chinese inscriptions implicitly directed readers to “look around” at the tangible traces of colossal enterprise.70 In the case of Opening the Bao-Xie Road, a re a d e r turning away from the text to glance to the right would have seen the southern entrance of the Stone Gate tunnel, while to the left the zhandao disappeared around the side of the cliff~the fruits of labor overseen by Governor Chu. The meaning of the inscription at the Stone Gate was generated by its place­ ment, medium, and semantic content, but like all writing, it also addressed the reader in a particular visual embodiment, in modes of script and calligraphic style conveying messages of their own. The surface of the stone on which Opening the Bao-Xie Road was carved is so rough that in some passages of the inscription it is difficult to distinguish the carved lines from the natural irregularities of the stone, which rubbings reproduce (fig. 1.10). It is this effect of writing emerging from marks imprinted by nature itself that led the Qing epigrapher Yang Shoujing (1839-1915) to comment that the calligraphy “possesses naturally ancient refinement, like the patterns of stone., , 71 How did the writing appear to people in the Han dynasty? Unlike the repre­ sentational arts, which can move, alarm, or amuse a viewer purely through the images they present, calligraphy has no referent in the world of visual phenomena. Even though some Chinese characters originally contained pictographic elements that evoked the forms of the things to which the written words referred, this rep­ resentational aspect of characters, never very clear, disappeared as the script devel­ oped.72As a result, instead of being perceived in relation to things in the real world, a piece of calligraphy, whatever its medium, is perceived in relation to other writing.

Of all formats of writing to which readers in China had access during the first cen­ tury c.e., the most abundant were inscribed slips of wood or bamboo.73 C h e a p e r than silk, these slips were cut to standardized lengths, inscribed vertically, and, in the case of multislip documents, bound together with cords. The great majority of inscribed slips that date close in time to the carving of Opening the Bao-Xie Road, and that allow us to reconstruct the forms of writing that most likely were known to the original readers of the inscription, were written in cursive script (caoshu) or clerical script (lishu). Of these two, clerical script was the most common choice for the administrative documents that were generated by the Han bureaucracy, and slips bearing this form of writing have been discovered in huge numbers (fig. i.ii).

Fig. 1.10. O p e n in g th e B a o - X ie R o a d ( K a it o n g B a o -X ie d a o ) . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n . P h o to :S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i B a o -X ie d a o y a n jiu h u i a n d S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i b o w u g u a n , S h im e n H a n l^ e i s h is a n

p in , u n p a g in a te d . Fig. 1.11 ( r ig h t ) . In s c r ib e d w o o d e n s lip s d is c o v e r e d a t J u y a n , G a n s u . 56

巳 .C .£ .,

28 C.E. P h o to :Z h o n g g u o m e is h u q u a n ji:

s h u f a z h u a n k e b ia n ,1 :81.

In traditional histories of calligraphy, the invention of clerical script was credited to a single man, Cheng Miao (fl. 221-206

b .c

. e .),

who was said to have

devised this form of writing while a prisoner of the First Emperor of Qin .74 Archae­ ological evidence proves that clerical script began to develop as a simplification of seal script before the time of the First Emperor, but it was the administrative needs of the Qin and early Han empires that fostered the spread of the new graphs.75 As the term suggests, “clerical script” was a tool of bureaucracy. According to Xu Shen (ca. 55-149). “as government and military regimentation increased, the office regis­ try of the censor, office duties, and countless state affairs demanded a faster form of writing. Clerical script thus developed., , 76 The greater speed of writing that clerical script allowed came from replacing the complex, curvilinear shapes of seal script with more rectilinear compositions dominated by horizontal and vertical strokes. At the same time that clerical script made writing faster, it also introduced new visual complexities by exploiting effects produced through changing pressure on the brush tip, especially in flaring diagonal strokes that thicken as they move downward to the right .77 For a reader of the first century c . e . whose experience of writing was shaped by familiarity with this form of script, Opening the Bao-Xie Road would have been a perfectly legible document;for readers who were participants in “the empire of writing, , , peers of Governor Chu and his assistants named in the text, the inscription was related by its script, as by its content, to the familiar textual domain of bureau­ cratic processes. But this was not everyday writing. The size of the inscription, covering a surface of some four square meters, set the writing apart and conferred

Fig. 1 .1 2 . C o m p a ris o n o f c h a r a c te r s fro m

O p e n in g th e B a o - X ie R o a d ( /e ft ) a n d th e fu n e r a l b a n n e r o f Zhang B osheng

( r ig h t ) ■ D e t a ils o f f ig s . 1.5 a n d 1 .6 .

special status on the text as much as the new medium of carved stone did. Not constrained by the narrow width of bamboo or wooden slips, or by the limited height of a roll of silk, the calligrapher of Opening the Bao-Xie Road was free to spread the characters across the surface of the cliff. To adapt the characters to the rough surface of the stone, which did not facilitate changes of pressure and orientation of the brush seen in writing on wooden slips, the calligrapher simplified the brush strokes and eliminated sharp contrast of thick and thin forms— an approach seen also in the inscription of 57 c . e . discovered at Rongjing in Sichuan. The resulting visual effect is like that seen in seal script, in which unmodulated strokes are written with even pressure in the “centered-tip” brush technique (fig. 1.12). Another challenge faced by the calligrapher was that of organizing the large characters into a coherent visual composition. His solution was not to place them in an orderly grid, as would soon be common in stele inscriptions, but to adjust the spacing to the irregularities of the stone, allowing the characters to expand and contract and aligning them on separate vertical axes that disrupt any sense of a “spine” running down the columns. As a result, the writing is both monumental and casual— a synthesis of seemingly contradictory visual effects that would characterize countless future inscriptions carved in the landscape of China.

T H E V I R T U E S OF y A N G M E N G W E N A N D T H E E X P A N S I O N OF P U B L I C W R I T I N G ON S T O N E The benefits conferred on travelers by the thousands of workmen who built the zhandao and excavated the Stone Gate tunnel under the supervision of Governor Chu were short-lived. Little more than fifty years after their work on the Bao-Xie Road ended, this route through the Qinling Mountains became impassable. The dramatic story of how the road was destroyed and then reopened is told in the first inscription written inside the tunnel. This text, dated 148 c . e •, appeared on the west wall, five meters from the southern entrance (fig. 1.13). Identified by a title heading as the Eulogy of the Former Metropolitan Commandant, His Lordship Yang ofjianwei (Gu silixiaowei Jianwei Yang jun song), the inscription is known also by its abbreviated title Eulogy of the Stone Gate (Shimen song): 78 It is the Earth Numen79 that defines the positions, And streams and marshes serve them. Marshes have places they infuse, Streams have places they penetrate. As for the streams of the Xie Valley,

Fig. 1 .1 3 . E u lo g y o f t h e F o r m e r M e t r o p o lit a n C o m m a n d a n t , H is L o r d s h ip Y a n g o f J ia n w e i (G u s ilix ia o w e i J ia n w e i y a n g j u n s o n g ) . A ls o k n o w n a s E u lo g y o f t h e S t o n e G a te ( S h im e n s o n g ) . 148 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 261 x 205 c m ; t i t l e h e a d in g , 5 4 x 35 c m . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f G u o R o n g z h a n g .

Their marshes extend southward abundantly. To the Eight Quarters they reach, And the territory of Yi is filled.80 When Gaozu received the mandate, He rose up in Hanzhong. He followed the Ziwu Road, Going out by way of [San]guan and entering Qin. He established the imperial throne And took Han as the dynastic name from it (Hanzhong).81 Later, because the Ziwu Road Was rugged and harsh, People followed the Weigu Road And passed again through Tangguang.82 All of these four roads Often were blocked and hard to travel. By the Yongping era, In the fourth year (61 c .e .), An imperial edict ordered the opening of the [Bao]-Xie (Road) And the excavation of the Stone Gate. In the first and second years [of the Yongchu era, 107-108 c . e .], Western barbarians cruelly invaded. Bridges and beams were broken and cut off,83 And the Ziwu [Road] put back in use. Turning upward, [it is] suspended at precipitous heights, W inding and meandering in upward flow to the summits. Turning downward, [it] enters obscure depths, Falling and gushing toward the abyss. Level banks are covered in mud, Usually shadowed, rarely sunny. Between trees and stones spaced apart, Sharp rocks and heavy boulders. Leaning in peril over spearlike cliffs, The heart chills as if treading on a [tiger’s] tail. Empty carriages and light riders Are utterly blocked and cannot proceed. There are hateful insects and loathsome beasts, Snakes, leeches, and poisonous worms. When not yet autumn, it is obstructed by frost, And the sown fields are prematurely blighted.

The year ends without harvest, Causing famines and starvation. The lowly keenly detested this, The lofty were not at peace. Of the bitter hardships caused by these worries, How can they be spoken of in full?84 Thus it was that the perspicacious former metropolitan comman­ dant, His Lordship Yang of Wuyang in Jianwei [Commandery], whose polite name was Mengwen, 85 Profoundly holding fast to loyalty and determination, [He] repeatedly submitted memorials. Officers disputed [his arguments], But His Lordship took up the struggle. The hundred officers all followed along, And the emperor accepted this advice. The Zi[wu Road] was thus abolished, This one (the Bao-Xie Road) was restored according to [Yang’s] plan. Work was carried out on the essentials, [The road] was made broad and level. It was clear and harmonious, Rising, rising, ordered and calm. In the second year of the Jianhe era (148 c.e.), first ten days of the sec­ ond month of winter (eleventh month), the governor of Hanzhong, Wang Sheng of Wuyang in Jianwei Commandery, whose polite name is Zhiji, traveled the mountain road and investigated its origins. Admir­ ing His Lordship’s wisdom, praising his benevolence and virtue, he ordered a stone carved to eulogize his virtue, thereby making clear his merit. The text says: His Lordship’s virtue, shining, shining, Dazzling and fully radiant. He corrected faults and repaired omissions, And rigorously purified in all directions. He followed the bowl and accorded with the handle of the Dipper,86 Soothed the masses and resisted the powerful. In spring he spread sagely benevolence, In autumn he passed judgment like frost. Impartial, broad and vast, 87

His upright elegance and honor. He brought peace to all, And his administration was in accord with Heaven. Supporting his lord and assisting his ruler, He followed ritual with constancy. Completely understanding geography, He knew the guiding principles of the age. In speech, he was invariably loyal and righteous, Not like a stone [that can be rolled away] were his writings. His vast and great virtues In remonstrance grew ever more brilliant. Cognizant of the past, excelling in the present, His council accorded with the dispositions of the court. He relieved difficulties and achieved peace, Abounding in merit, abounding in honor. Yu excavated the Dragon Gate, His Lordship followed in his footsteps.88 Above, he was in accord with the Pole Star, Below, he responded to the earth’s sovereign. From south to north, All w ithin the four seas are linked. Gentlemen are happy and at peace, The multitudes are in delighted harmony. Merchants are all pleased, Farmers are permanently in accord. The Spring and Autumn recorded extraordinary events,89 And today we record his achievements. Passing them down to myriad ages, May generation after generation exclaim and chant them. The coda reads: 90

Brilliant! Benevolent and wise, Prescient about what was difficult or easy. He traced and measured the Way of Heaven,


[To know] the sources of peace and danger. Diligently striving for utmost integrity, Such was the beauty of his glorious brilliance. General-Purpose Clerk Zhao Shao of Nanzheng (Shaanxi), whose polite name is Ji, nan, Subsidiary Clerk Chao Hanjiang ofBaozhong (Shaanxi),

whose polite name is Chanbo, and Administrative Clerk Wang Rong of Xicheng (Shaanxi), whose polite name is Wenbao, took charge [of making this stone carving]. The commandery governor Wang, distressed that the valley roads were dangerous and difficult to travel, separately built six bridges and spe­ cially dispatched Acting Aide Han Lang of Xicheng, whose polite name is Xiangong, and the commander in chiefs clerk Wei Zheng of Nanzheng, whose polite name is Boyu, later dispatching Zhao Yong, whose polite name is Gongliang,and Surveillance Commissioner Cao Zhuoxing, to construct stone bases as the foundations for ten thousand generations, to dismantle the high gallery [roads], and below make [the road] level and easy to travel.91Travelers were delighted by this. On this same day, Boyu (Wei Zheng) was appointed acting temporary clerk serving as the magistrate of Anyang (Shaanxi).92 (iF) Four events structure the narrative of this text:the opening of the Stone Gate tunnel and the work on the Bao-Xie Road carried out during the Yongping era and recorded in Opening the Bao-Xie Road;the destruction of the road by Qiang tribesmen in 107-108; the rebuilding of the road decreed in 125 by Emperor Shun (r. 125-144) in response to memorials submitted by Yang Huan, identified in the inscription by his polite name, Mengwen;and the carving of the inscription in 148 on the orders of Wang Sheng, governor of Hanzhong Commandery. Through the act of carving the inscription, to which the text self-referentially refers, events of the past were given order and meaning ;at the same time the identities of those named in the text were linked in a communal bond spanning generations and classes and preserved for the information of future readers in the imperishable medium of stone.93 The title Eulogy of the Stone Gate (Shimen song), by which the text is most widely known, is misleading:the inscription was intended to commemorate, not a work of engineering, but the life of an individual, Yang Mengwen. A native of Jianwei Commandery near Chengdu, Yang held the prestigious office of metropolitan commandant charged with impeaching officials in the region around the former capital of Chang’an.94 In spite of his prominence in official life, his name does not appear in the History of the Latter Han;he is kn o w n only through entries in an early history of Sichuan, Gazetteer of the State ofHuayang (Huayang guozhi), and through the inscriptions at the Stone Gate.95Although the Eulogy attributes to Yang's innate wisdom and virtue his campaign to have the Bao-Xie Road repaired, there were other, highly practical reasons why a native of Jianwei might have had a special interest in promoting good transportation between the Sichuan basin and the city

of Chang’an. Not only would reopening the Bao-Xie Road facilitate commerce gener­ ally between the area around the former capital and the region of Yizhou in which Jianwei was located, but the boon that Yang’s proposals sought to achieve would add luster to his own reputation and to that of his family. The text does not explicitly identify an author, and as we w ill see, multiple voices can be discerned in the inscription, but it was someone uniquely well posi­ tioned to grasp the significance of Yang Mengwen’s acts who is credited with having the Eulogy carved in the tunnel :another Jianwei native, Wang Sheng, who was serving as governor of Hanzhong and who supervised repairs to the Bao-Xie Road.96 Although Wang Sheng gave the orders to have the inscription produced and, at least implicitly, was the principal eulogist of Yang Mengwen, the task of having the text transcribed and carved in the Stone Gate tunnel fell to his subordinate officials, all of them natives of counties in Hanzhong Commandery;it is their voices that emerge in the final section of the inscription, in which they refer to Wang Sheng as fujun , a polite alternative designation for a commandery governor, and record /zisachieve­ ments as an administrator and road builder. Although of lower official status, these men, no less than Yang Mengwen and Wang Sheng, were literally and figuratively written into the history of the Stone Gate. In comparison w ith Opening the Bao-Xie Road, the text of Eulogy of the Stone Gate demands of its readers a high degree of literacy. The genre to which the text belongs— song,translatable as “eulogy,” “ode, , ,or “hymn”一 is announced in the title heading.97 Over many centuries in early China, texts identified as song took several different forms. Verses known as song in the Book ofOdes (Shijing) are among the most ancient forms of Chinese literature and were composed for performance in ritual celebrations accompanied by music and dance. The essential oral and performative nature of these compositions was shared by Zhou dynasty bronze inscriptions, which prefigured the poetic inscriptions carved on stone to eulogize the achievements of the First Emperor of Qin. W ith in the context of Eastern Han literary culture, the term song could refer more broadly to compositions made up of an introduction stating historical or biographical facts in.verse, prose, or, as in the Eulogy of the Stone Gate, in a combination of these, followed by lines of tetrasyl­ lable verse. According to the Maoshi Preface, “song praises the manifestations of flourishing virtue and announces its accomplishments to the spirits., , 98 Echoing this definition centuries later, Liu Xie (465-522), in his Literary Mind and the Carv­ ing ofDragons (Wenxin diaolong), states that "song means to describe a spectacle; its function is to praise great virtue and tell of its form ... the m ain function of the eulogy is to report to the spirits, and hence it should be perfect.”99 Although the readership of the Eulogy of the Stone Gate might have been intended to include unseen spirits or divinities, the content of the text and its placement in the tunnel

do not indicate that the writing was expected to serve an explicit ritual or religious function. Not all song were intended to be inscribed on stone, but this genre of writing became closely associated with the freestanding stele, as reflected in the expression “erecting the stele eulogy” (li beisong) that appears in texts on some monuments of this kind .10。In Eulogy of the Stone Gate the word song also functions as a verb:just before the verses praising Yang Mengwen, which constitute the heart of the eulogy, the text reads, he (Wang Sheng) carved a stone to eulogize his virtue, thereby mak­ ing clear his merit” Qe shi song de, yi ming que xun). When carved on steles to mark the sites of tombs, eulogies preserved the identities of the dead and proclaimed their merits. But inscriptions in the same literary form, known as songde bei,or “steles eulogizing virtues,Hwere placed also at temples, government offices, or other sites connected in various ways with the lives of the persons they honored. Eulogy ofthe Stone Gafe belongs to this category of monument. Although Yang Mengwen presumably was dead by the time the inscrip­ tion was produced, it was not carved at his tomb but at a site on the Bao-Xie Road, which Yang’s memorials had spurred the emperor to repair and reopen. In addition to serving as a commemorative and commendatory monument, Eulogy of the Stone Gate can be placed among a growing number of inscriptions that were concentrated in the region ofYizhou and were carved during the Eastern Han period to honor men who built or repaired roads and bridges. The precursors of these monuments were the short texts from Shu Commandery translated in the preceding section and, of course, Opening theBao-XieRoad, carved outside the Stone Gate. Instead of simply documenting the completion of building projects, however, later inscrip­ tions blossomed into lengthy compositions of prose and verse eulogizing the virtues of the men responsible for the work. In the year 96,several officials serving under Prefect Wang of Nan’an County sponsored the carving of a text to commemorate the building of a road undertaken by the prefect the year before. Like Opening the Bao-Xie Road and Eulogy of the Stone Gate, this was a moya inscription carved at the site where a road had been cut into a cliff. The text notes the scope of the work carried out and, echoing phrases common in earlier bronze inscriptions, states the intention of the men who had it carved “to transmit to sons and grandsons the benevolent merit of the prefect, thanks to whom danger was eliminated and security achieved, for ten thousand generations, without worry, eternally without limit.”101 Another moya inscription, carved in 112, honored the road-building projects of Zhao Menglin, county defender of Qingyi in Shu Commandery.102A third inscription, of more than 320 characters, dated 129, marked the site of a gallery road built in Han’an County under the command of Prefect Chen. At the conclusion of its preface, the text announces that the donors sponsored the inscription in order to “tell of His

Lordship^ righteousness and therefore carved this stone to display to later wor­ thies/*103There follows a section of tetrasyllabic verse that Hong Gua identifies as a song, or eulogy. In no case do such inscriptions state that the person honored was responsible for having the text carved. The decorum of commemoration implicit in these monuments demanded that others initiate the carving, presumably with the tacit approval of the living honoree following a few polite refusals:“An inscription? For me? Oh no, you really shouldn’t.” The inscriptions carved in Nan’an and Han’an counties w ithin the territory of }ianwei Commandery, the home of Yang Mengwen and Wang Sheng, and in neigh­ boring Shu Commandery point to the existence of a regional epigraphic tradition focused on the subject of roads and bridges for which there are few parallels in other parts of China during the Eastern Han.104But the Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate was also part of a much wider phenomenon detectable during the second century in other areas of the Han empire:the proliferation of writing on stone. Statistical tabulations of Han inscriptions, though inevitably incomplete, reveal a striking contrast between the numbers of inscriptions from the Western and Eastern Han periods. An inventory of inscriptions of all kinds compiled by Hua Rende includes thirteen dated examples from the Western Han and Wang Mang periods and twelve more that can be attrib­ uted to those years on the basis of style or other evidence; from the Eastern Han, Hua records 235 dated inscriptions and 153 undated inscriptions.105Along with the increase in the sheer numbers of inscriptions, the length and the variety of texts grew, as did the formats for epigraphy. In addition to stone boundary markers, records of land purchases, and epitaphs, texts appeared on statues, funerary shrines, and


marking the entrances to burial sites. But the most conspicuous format for carved writing during the Eastern Han was the freestanding stele.106 It was during this period, in the words of Liu Xie, that steles “rose like clouds.”107 Given the importance of the stele in later Chinese history, the material and ritual origins of this form of monument are surprisingly murky.108 Among the ancient prototypes for steles that have been cited by scholars are posts to which sacrificial animals were tied, primitive sundials, stones worshiped by cults known as she,posts through which ropes were fitted to lower coffins into graves, and wooden tablets on which names of the dead were written before the medium of stone came into use. Early steles usually took the form of a polished rectangular slab of lime­ stone;some had pointed tops in the shape of ritual gui tablets. The classic form of the stele with a rounded top ornamented by carved, intertwined dragons emerged by the second century (fig. 1.14). Other features of steles that would endure throughout the history of imperial China also appeared at this time, including title headings (bei e), often written in large seal script characters, and bases in the form of massive carved tortoises— venerable creatures believed to be able to bear great weights.109

Whatever the origins of the stele, the prolif­ eration of this form of monument, as well as other formats of writing on stone, occurred rapidly for reasons that defy easy explanation. What is clear is that the spread of writing on stone took place con­ currently with broader changes in the status accorded written texts and in the concept of wen, usually translated as “culture.” Both Martin Kern and Michael Nylan have shown that up until the late Western Han period, wen referred primarily to patterns discovered in nature and to exemplary human speech or ritual performances that provided models for the ordering of society.110During the first c e n tu ry

c . e .,

a c c o r d in g to N y la n , a q u ie t re v o lu tio n

occurred, as “old notions of wen as behavioral pat­ terns tied to the cosmic order were supplemented and then overshadowed by a newer idea of wen as textual production of benefit to the state., , 111 Although ancient China has been seen as a civiliza­ tion dominated by texts, it was not until the Eastern Han period that “the idea of Chinese culture (wen) collapsed into that of written text (wen).ni12 This change was detectable in many phenomena cited by Kern:the collection and classification of written Fig.

1.14. s t e le o f

205. s t o n e

Fan Min (F a n M in b e i) . x 130 c m . L u s h a n ,

s te le , 248

Sichuan' Photo: CourtesyofAnn Paludan.

texts,the compilation of the imperial library catalogue, and the formation of a literary canon and its accompanying exegetical tradition.屯 At the same time, mastery of texts became essential for advance­ ment in public life.114 W riting around the year

ioo c . e ., Xu Shen argued that written language was the foundation of proper gov­ ernment.115 In the realm of administrative recruitment, Emperor Shun decreed in 132 that men formerly nominated for official positions on the basis of their reputa­ tions as “filial and incorrupt” (xiaolian) be required to demonstrate, through a writ­ ten examination, their knowledge of classical texts and their ability to draft documents.116 Those profiting from the increased emphasis on writing and text-based learn­ ing during the Eastern Han were members of the literate elite known as the shi. Patricia Ebrey defines the shi as “men who could read and write, who had some sense of the importance of tradition and ritual and some knowledge of what was to be

found in books.”117Some members of the shi class were officeholders;most were not. The shi encompassed varying strata of national and local elites and members of long-established families, as well as men newly prominent owing to their mastery of textual learning, all of whom saw themselves, and wished to be seen, as being morally or culturally qualified to participate in public life. These are also the men who were the principal donors and authors of stone inscriptions intended for public display. Indeed, it could be said that one of the ways through which the officehold­ ers of all ranks, retired scholars, students, and private individuals who constituted the shi class defined and demonstrated their status was through the production of stone monuments. Although manuscripts facilitated an economy of textual exchange through which the ideas and views of the shi could be disseminated, placing carved texts at sites accessible to any reader was a powerful tool through which to address a wide readership in a prestigious, durable medium. The views expressed in stele texts, which Martin Powers has likened to the voice of “public opinion” in modern societies, was usually indirect and cloaked in a rhetoric of praise for the individuals to whom the steles were dedicated.118 Beyond the ostensible goal of honoring such worthies, sponsors of steles could assert claims about themselves, giving voice to political or regional bonds and expressing their commitment to shared values or ideological goals. As Miranda Brown has shown, the political significance of inscrip­ tions, and the numbers in which they were produced, grew rapidly during a period of factional struggles beginning in 166 c.e. known as the Great Proscription. This event, to which we w ill return in chapter 4, had the effect of marginalizing large numbers of men, who appear to have found in the medium of stone inscriptions an alternative, if not subversive, means of promulgating their views.119 Explaining the significance of bronze inscriptions, the Book of Rites states: “When a gentleman looks at an inscription he praises those who are exalted in it, and he praises the one who made it.”120 The same may be said of inscriptions on stone:like any public monument, an inscribed text honors those to whom it is dedicated, but it also confers prestige on those who produced it. Eulogy of the Stone Gate exemplifies this power of carved writing to embody multiple layers of com­ memoration. By recording the merits of Yang Mengwen, Governor Wang Shen associated himself with the qualities of his fellow Jianwei native, especially the bravery Yang displayed when his proposals were attacked by opponents at court. At the same time, the men serving under Wang Sheng who oversaw the carving of the text— Zhao Shao, Chao Hanjiang, and Wang Rong— also associated themselves publicly with Yang’s legacy, while the good work of two additional officials, Wei Zheng and Zhao Yong, who carried out the governor’s orders to repair bridges and roads, were acknowledged as well, folding these men into a narrative of achieve­ ments that culminated in the carving of the text. The different roles played by

officials of various ranks named in Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate also reflect different bonds between these men and the location of the inscription.121The Jianwei native Wang Sheng, appointed governor of Hanzhong by the central administration of the Han state, had only a temporary, administrative connection to this area. But the lowerranking members of his staff were Hanzhong natives:long after Wang had left the commandery, these men, or their descendants, would continue to live there. By participating in carving the inscription, these local men could ensure that their worthiness for further employment and promotion was made known to as wide an audience as possible, including not only their own neighbors but also future com­ mandery governors or county magistrates empowered to advance the interests of the Hanzhong men who had proved themselves as administrators and engineers under the governorship of Wang Sheng. Just as the text of the Eulogy and its commemorative function were similar to those of Eastern Han steles, the design and layout of this moya inscription also derived from those of freestanding monuments. Above the body of the text, in a position corresponding to that of the bei e on steles such as Inscription/or the Chancel­ lor ofBeihai, His Lordship Jing (Beihai xiang Jing jun ming) of 143 (fig. 1.15), the title of the Eulogy is set off in a panel measuring 54 x 35 centimeters (fig. 1.16). The large size of the characters and their placement above the rest of the inscription signify their importance and attract the reader’s eye to the title. Below, the text fills a wide, horizontal surface of more than 5.3 square meters— the largest continuous surface area of any known inscription up to this time in China. Although it might have been possible to achieve an even closer visual resemblance to a tall, rectangular stele by making the characters smaller and by placing them in closely spaced verti­ cal columns, rather than spreading them out horizontally, the length of the text, as well as the dimensions of the tunnel, approximately 3.5 meters high, made the horizontal orientation more practicable, keeping the characters at the top of each column accessible to the reader’s eye. Of the three men credited with taking charge of having the Eulogy carved— General-Purpose Clerk Zhao Shao, Subsidiary Clerk Chao Hanjiang, and Adminis­ trative Clerk Wang Rong— none is named as the calligrapher. Guo Rongzhang, who has studied the Stone Gate inscriptions more extensively than any other scholar, suggests that the clerk Wang Rong, whose rank w ithin the commandery staff was the lowest of the three men, probably wrote the characters, since the duties of men holding the position of clerk included drafting and making final copies of documents and demanded good calligraphy.122 Wang’s relatively junior status also might have made him a likely candidate to undertake the daunting physical task of inscribing the characters on the wall of the tunnel, made all the more taxing by what surely were the chilly conditions inside the tunnel at the time the inscription was done,

Fig. 1 .1 5 . In s c r ip t io n f o r t h e C h a n c e llo r o f B e ih a i, H is L o r d s h ip J in g ( B e ih a i x ia n g J in g ju n m in g ) . 1 4 3 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le , 2 2 0 x 7 9 c m . F ro m R e n c h e n g C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . J in in g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f C he n L i- w e i.

Fig. 1 .1 6 . E u lo g y o f th e S t o n e G a te . D e t a il o f fig . 1 .1 3 . P h o to : A u th o r .

between November 29 and December 8,148 c.e. Whoever the calligrapher, he was a cautious writer. Just to the right of the first character in the text, wei, is a smaller version of the same character, which the calligrapher appears to have written first, perhaps to test the effect of his brush on the unfamiliar stone surface, and which the carver, whose name also is unknown, proceeded to incise.123Unlike small char­ acters on the surfaces of finely polished steles carved with double strokes of a knife that create V-shaped incisions, the carving of the characters in the Eulogy ofthe Stone G 如ewas done in single passes of the carving knife, a technique that has been likened to cutting incisions into the bark of a pine tree.124 The form of writing seen in Eulogy of the Stone Gate, like that of Opening the Bao-Xie Road, is clerical script— the ubiquitous script of the bureaucracy of the Han

Fig. 1.17. E u lo g y o f t h e S t o n e G a te . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n . P h o to : S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i B a o -X ie d a o y a n jiu h u i a n d S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i b o w u g u a n , S h im e n

H a n Wei s h is a n p in , u n p a g in a t e d .

Fig. 1 .1 8 . Im a g e o f a n o f f i c i a l . 176. D e t a il o f a w a ll p a i n t in g f r o m t o m b 1, W a n g d u , H e b e i. P h o to :H a n T a n g b ih u a , p i. 8.

empire. The characters, ranging from six to eight centimeters in height, are much larger, however, than those in everyday use brushed on wooden or bamboo slips. Here, quite literally, is clerical script writ large. In addition to the large scale of the characters, the geometric regularity of negative spaces defined by the strokes, the even spacing of horizontal elements in the characters, and the recurring visual motif of strokes ending in gently rising waves impose a unifying formality on the writing (fig. i.i7). Just as the use of rhyme and ritualistic language distinguish the text from everyday speech, the design of the inscription, no less than its medium, sets the writ­ ing apart from that of everyday use. In the display of clerical script on Eastern Han stone monuments such as this, Adriana G. Proser sees an idealized transformation of what was the often slap-dash utilitarian writing of government scribes. The beau­ tification of the writing for public display paralleled the idealization of those honored by inscriptions. Understood in this way, the carved texts function as emblems of the men at work, putting the world in order through the techniques of government

dependent on writing.125Although Proser, s formulation should be approached with caution— an\; form of writing in early China could be claimed as the province of educated elites— clerical script did have a special role in the lives of those who participated in government or aspired to do so. This association between a form of writing and the lives of officeholders is nicely illustrated by the cartouches added to a mural in the Eastern Han tomb of an unidentified official at Wangdu in Hebei. Inscribed next to the portraits of men believed to have served under the tomb occupant are not their personal names but their official titles, written in bold clerical script (fig. 1.18). The medium, scale, and overall regularity of the compo­ sition make Eulogy of the Stone

a formal, stately monument,

but the arrangement of the text is somewhat looser than that seen on most freestanding steles, for although the characters are aligned in long vertical columns, they are not in strictly ordered horizontal rows. The irregular surface of the wall of the tunnel made fine details and modulations of brushwork difficult to produce, but it would be wrong to think of the roughness of the stone solely as a limitation :the calligrapher exploited the irregularities of the writing surface to create unusual effects, some of which fuse visual form and semantic meaning. By elongating the final stroke in the character ming, which appears in the phrase “when Gaozu received the man­ date (ming)” (fig. 1.19), the calligrapher avoided a fissure in the

Fig. 1.19. T h e c h a r a c t e r m in g

stone directly below, over which it would have been difficult

( m a n d a t e ) f r o m E u lo g y o f

to write an entire character. The result of this expediency,

t h e S t o n e G a te . D e t a il o f in k

however, created a striking graphic form that can be inter­

r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n . P h o to :S h a a n x i

preted as a visual exclamation point in a phrase recounting the

H a n z h o n g s h i B a o -X ie d a o

deeds of the Han founder.

y a n jiu h u i a n d S h a a n x i H a n ­

Like many Han documents, the inscription is bristling

z h o n g s h i b o w u g u a n , S h im e n

H a n h/ei s h is a n p in , 69.

with nonstandard forms of characters and with oddities of orthography. The character kun in the first line is written as three vertical strokes ending in upward hooks to the right; this form, though unusual, is seen in other Han inscriptions, including the Stele ofHeng Fang (Heng Fang bei) of 168 and the Stele ofShi Chen (Shi Chen bei) of 169, both carved in distant Shandong. Other variant forms, such as the character ling, or “spirit,” appear to be inventions of the calligrapher or local variants not found in Han texts from other areas of China.126

THE JIANW EI CONNECTIO N The Stone Gate tunnel lay w ithin the jurisdiction of Hanzhong Commandery, cen­ tered in what is today southwestern Shaanxi. But modern provincial borders should not obscure the cultural, economic, and political “pull” that areas farther south, in Sichuan, exercised over the site of the Stone Gate and over the concentration of carved writing in and around the tunnel. We have seen that texts commemorating work on roads or bridges constituted a special genre of early stone inscriptions in Sichuan, at least two of which were carved in Jianwei Commandery. When read with attention to the political geography of the Han empire, the texts at the Stone Gate direct a reader’s notice to this area of the Chengdu Plain. Owing to now-forgot­ ten networks of influence or patronage, or to the luck of bureaucratic appointments decided back in the capital at Luoyang, seven natives of Jianwei either held office in Hanzhong— two were commandery governors— or were the honorees of texts inscribed at the Stone Gate. Woven into the history of repairs and restorations of the Bao-Xie Road that the texts collectively record is a parallel history of the lives of these men, for whom the Stone Gate, not the sites of their tombs, which were located, presumably, back in Jianwei, became a permanent monument transmitting their names to later centuries. The bond between Jianwei and the Stone Gate was first documented in Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate, composed by one native of the commandery, Wang Sheng, to honor another, Yang Mengwen. Fewer than eight years later, the name of another Jianwei man, Li Yu ofWuyang, entered the inscribed history of the site in a short text carved on the west wall near the northern entrance of the tunnel (see fig. 1.2a). Above the body of this text is the larger, single character biao, or “marker.” This term, used in compounds such as huabiao or mubiao to designate stone columns, also was used in place of the word bei,or “stele,” in inscriptions from the Eastern Han period.127 The characters are badly eroded and permit only a tentative reading: The aide to the Guardian of the Right, His Lordship Li ofWuyang [two missing graphs], whose personal name is Yu and whose polite name is Jixiu, in the first year of the Yongshou era (155),[missing graphs] finished employment as Secretariat court gentleman. Owing to his [multiple missing graphs], travelers benefited. His Lordship formerly served as [two missing graphs] and was named Filial and Incorrupt, [multiple missing graphs] He was transferred [multiple missing graphs] to the post of commandant of Yihe (Dunhuang Commandery, Gansu).128 (iG)

In spite of the poor condition of the inscription, the act it commemorates can reason­ ably be inferred:sometime after the year 155, Li Yu supervised the repair of a section of the Bao-Xie Road, and as a result of his work, “travelers benefited” The repairs Li carried out are not mentioned in any historical source, and the extent of the work he supervised is unknown. Nevertheless, his achievement was enough to inspire someone (the author or sponsor of the text is not recorded) to compose the inscrip­ tion and have it carved in the tunnel as a permanent memorial to Li Yu. In 173 another native ofjianwei Commandery passed through the Stone Gate and had a text inscribed in the tunnel one-half meter south of the Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate. Known under various titles, most commonly as Marker Recordfor the Former Metropolitan Commandant Yang Huai (Gu sili xiaowei Yang Huai biaoji), the text actu­ ally honors two men, Yang Huai and his younger cousin Yang Bi (fig. 1.2a, plate 2), and should be identified as Marker Recordfor Yang Huai and Yang Bi.129 Following a summary of the careers of the two men, both of whom were recommended as Filial and Incorrupt, we read: The two gentlemen were pure and incorrupt, modest and self-controlled. They were the grandsons of the great metropolitan commandant Yang Mengwen. The imperial gatekeeper [of the imperial mausoleum] from the same commandery, Bian Yu, whose polite name is Zigui, on the n d day of the second month of the second year of the Xiping era (173), passed by this place on his way home, and seeking to tell of this by carving an inscription, he therefore composed this record.130(iH) The two cousins eulogized in the inscription, Yang Huai and Yang Bi, were grandsons of none other than Yang Mengwen of Jianwei, the man whose memorials calling for the repair of the Bao-Xie Road not only succeeded in having the road reopened but also set off a textual chain reaction leading to the carving of the Eidogy of the Stone Gate and to the production of Bian Yu’s own encomium. Bian’s reasons for hav­ ing the text carved are unclear. Did he hope to ingratiate himself with the Yang family? If so, he would not have been the first person from Jianwei to seek the favor of the Yangs,who were among the leading citizens of the commandery. The status of the family can be judged from the biographical notices of eminent men and women ofjianwei included in the Gazetteer ofthe State ofHuayang. The entry for Yang Mengwen is brief, recording his official positions as Secretariat court gentleman, administrator of an unnamed marquisate, court gentleman, and, as Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate also records, metropolitan commandant. The entry concludes by noting that Yang enjoyed an excellent reputation, which the inscription at the Stone Gate can only have helped to promote.131The biography of his grandson Yang Huai is longer,

recording in detail official ranks that correspond with those in the inscription carved by Bian Yu. The biography notes in particular that Yang Huai denounced the licentiousness of certain sons and followers of a group of commandery governors and made successful recommendations of other men to good official positions.132 Yang Bi does not have his own biographical entry in the gazetteer, but we learn of his identity in the biography of his mother, perhaps the most remarkable member of the family : [Yang] Ji was a native of Wuyang, born into a poor family. Her father was in prison over some matter. When Yang Huan (Mengwen) first was Secretariat court gentleman and requested leave to return home, [people of] the commandery and county greatly respected him. Ji was an unmarried girl, yet she intercepted Huan on the road, stopped his horse, and disputed her father’s guilt. Her words were affecting and her tears moving. Huan took pity on her and asked the commandery and county [authorities] to release her father. Because he marveled at her talents, [Yang Huan] married his son Wenfang to her. Thanks to her marriage into a great clan, her two younger brothers became officials, and the family subsequently produced generations of officeholders. Later, Wen­ fang was the governor of Hanzhong. Noting that Zhao Xuan [of Han­ zhong] was wise, he nominated him as “Filial and Incorrupt•” The documents were sealed but had not yet been dispatched when [Wen­ fang] died. Ji kept his death secret, first sending the recommendation of "Filial and Incorrupt” on its way and only then beginning the mourn­ ing. That Xuan was selected was thanks to the effort of ji. Later, Bopi (Yang Huai), the son of Wenfang’s older brother, was made metropoli­ tan commandant, at the same time that Ji’s oldest son, Yingbo (Yang Bi), was regional inspector of Jizhou and her middle son, Kui, was a two thousand-bushel official. Bopi revered his aunt’s instruction and wel­ comed her at his official residence. She always advised Bopi in political matters. Bopi wished to make a recommendation of “Cultivated Talentswand selected two men. He wanted to appoint the older one but suspected he was too elderly;he wished to recommend the other, W u Fang, but thought he was too young. He sought the advice of his aunt, who counseled that he appoint Fang. Later, Zhao Xuan (held office) in Jianwei and W u Fang (held office) in Guanghan while Ji was still living. These former subordinates revered her and sent their regards yearround-without cease.133 (il)

Yang Ji’s biography illuminates how family and political ties shaped the lives of people in Han China. By marrying into the family of Yang Mengwen, she brought honor and prosperity to her own. By intervening in the official appointments of two men, she won the lasting respect of both when they achieved high office. Another extraordinary piece of information contained in Yang Ji’s biography concerns the office held by her husband, Mengwen’s son Wenfang :governor of Hanzhong. Given the care with which Bian Yu’s panegyric carved at the Stone Gate mentions three members of the Yang family, it is strange that he omitted any mention of Yang Wenfang, who had served as governor of the very commandery in which the tunnel was located. Perhaps the death of Yang Wenfang in office, noted in the biography of his widow, came so early in his administration that he achieved nothing of signifi­ cance during his short tenure. In spite of this omission, Bian Yu clearly knew a lot about the Yang family of Wuyang and about the history of how their interventions had furthered the careers of others. Did he intend to publicize an alliance with them, hoping for some future boon from the surviving relatives and descendants of the three members of the family he praised in the stone carving? Whatever his motives, Bian’s decision to place an inscription in the tunnel must have been determined by the presence there of the Eulogy of the Stone Gate:there can have been no other reason for selecting the site inside the tunnel. Read from right to left or, w ithin the spatial context of the tunnel, from north to south, the texts of 148 and 173 praising Yang Mengwen and his grandsons, like spirit tablets aligned in a family shrine, carried the reader’s thoughts across-generations and southward in the direction of Jianwei, in the heart of Sichuan. The textual and visual continuity between the Eulogy and the Marker Record for Yang Huai and Yang Bi is reinforced by the calligraphic style of the two carvings. Although the text of the Eulogy is much longer and its overall composition more tightly structured by the implied presence of an underlying grid, the individual characters, seven centimeters across, are roughly the same size as those of the later text. Also like the Eulogy, the Marker Record displays clerical script forms written with rounded, centered-tip brushwork, a resemblance that led the great epigrapher and philosopher Kang Youwei (1858-1927) to write that it “comes out of the Eulogy of the Stone Gate.M1S4 For an art historian, the visual affinity between the two pieces of calligraphy suggests an intentional allusion through which the unidentified calligrapher of the Marker Recordfor Yang Huai and Yang Bi expected readers to perceive a stylistic bond between his writing and that of the earlier text. Though less satisfying hermeneu­ tically, an equally valid interpretation would treat this resemblance as the sign of a shared period style to be expected in works of calligraphy executed in the same

place fewer than thirty years apart. Recently, Hua Rende has argued for something more: the existence of a distinct regional tradition of calligraphy in Eastern Han Sichuan.135 The history of other media from ancient Sichuan encourages the quest to identify a distinctive way of writing in this part of China. Beginning with the astounding cast-bronze heads and standing figure datable to ca. 1200 b .c .e . discov­ ered at Sanxingdui, art from Sichuan, though obviously related to art from other parts of China, was animated by vivid regional characteristics.136 In particular, during the Han period, pictorial art from Sichuan displayed lively interest in events of the real world set in complex representations of pictorial space not seen elsewhere in China.137 In the history of calligraphy, evidence for a Sichuan regional style in the Eastern Han is less distinct. It is, in fact, quite easy to assemble evidence for a diversity of styles, represented on the one hand by the dense spacing, square-char­ acter compositions, and powerfully modulated brushwork of the Stele of Fan Min (Fan Min bei) of 205 (fig. 1.20), erected in Ba Commandery, north of modern Chong­ qing, and on the other hand by the fluid, improvisatory writing carved on the stone surfaces of tombs cut into cliff sides in the vicinity of Leshan (fig. 1.21). It is true, as Hua Rende argues, that the cliff tomb inscriptions form a distinc­ tive subgroup among examples of writing that may be unique to Sichuan. Consist­ ing of names of tomb occupants, sometimes combined with a date, many of these inscriptions appear to have been carved directly into stone without the preliminary step of writing the characters with a brush. In some of the inscriptions the charac­ ters fuse into unified graphic patterns that hover on the brink of illegibility. One person named in an undated inscription found near Leshan, Zhao Guoyang of Wuyang, was from Jianwei (see fig. 1.21). According to the contemporary scholar He Yinghui, the tomb inscription displays the same “rustic,untrammeled, flying move­ ment and spirit resonance” of Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate.1^ Aside from the freedom with which the calligrapher elongated the diagonal stroke in the character wu, which recalls the extravagant extension of the final stroke in the character ming in the Eulogp, the stylistic affinity between the inscribed name of Zhao Guoyang and the Stone Gate text posited by He is not easy to discern. Perhaps a more convincing trace of a Jianwei “school” of calligraphy appears on a fragment of an inscribed que tower dated 97c.e. that marked the tomb of Wang Junping, the prefect of Jiangyang, in Jianwei Commandery. Consider the character wei as it appears in this inscription and in Eulogy of the Stone Gate (fig. 1.22):the taut curve of the hook stroke on the right and the unfettered elongation of the leftward diagonal, which overlaps the vertical border separating the columns and ends in an upward-turned tip, reflect a shared understanding of how the character should be written.139 Although, as noted earlier, Guo Rongzhang has suggested that the cal­ ligrapher of the Eulogy was Wang Rong, a native of Hanzhong on the staff of the

Fig. 1 .2 0 . S t e le o f F a n M in. 2 0 5 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s t e le . P h o to :ZGSF, 8: p i. 143 (5 -3 ).

Fig. 1 .2 1 . I n s c r ip t io n f r o m t h e t o m b o f Z h a o G u o y a n g . U n d a te d , c a . s e c o n d c e n t u r y C.E. D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s t o n e i n s c r i p t i o n . L e s h a n T o m b C l i f f M u s e u m , L e s h a n , S ic h u a n . P h o to : ZGSF, 8 :p i. 172 ( 2 - 1 ) .

Fig. 1 .2 2 . ( L e f t ) T h e c h a r a c t e r w ei f r o m a q u e t o w e r a t t h e t o m b o f W a n g J u n p in g . 97. D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n . C h e n g d u M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to : ZGSF, 7 :p i. 35 ( 2 - 1 ) .

( R ig h t ) T h e c h a r a c t e r w ei f r o m E u lo g y o f t h e S t o n e G a te . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n . P h o to : S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i B a o -X ie d a o y a n jiu h u i a n d S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i b o w u g u a n , S h im e n H a n W ei s h is a n p in , u n p a g in a te d .

commandery governor, the stylistic similarity between the calligraphy at the Stone Gate and that produced some fifty years earlier in Jianwei might indicate that, when Wang Sheng chose a calligrapher to write out the text, he called on someone from Jianwei trained by masters who would have been young men when the inscription on the que tower of Wang Junping was written. More examples will have to be dis­ covered before a Jianwei school can be identified, but in light of the various other bonds between this area in Sichuan and the Stone Gate inscriptions it would not be surprising to find that the men who brushed the characters in the tunnel had learned to write in the same place that nurtured Yang Mengwen and his grandsons, as well as Wang Sheng, Bian Yu, and the other Jianwei men whose inscribed names make the tunnel a monument to natives of this area.

S C E N E S AT T H £ S T O N E G A T E : AN I N T E R L U D E During the years of conflict that attended the collapse of the Han dynasty and the struggle for control of China that ensued during the Three Kingdoms period, sec­ tions of the Bao-Xie Road were repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. Among the military leaders who carried out repairs on the road was Zhuge Liang (181-234), the master strategist of the Kingdom of Shu. In letters to his brother, Zhuge described the structure of the road above the riverbank and how it was constructed:“The head of one beam of the trestle is inserted in the side of the mountain, while the other stands as a column in the water.”140 Zhuge’s restorations were destroyed shortly after his death, when the retreating Shu general Wen Yan burned the zhandao to slow attack­ ing Wei troops on their southward advance into Sichuan.141 None of the repairs known through historical sources were documented in inscriptions during this period of warfare. In 263, when the Stone Gate was under the rule of the Cao-Wei dynasty, a major restoration of the road was carried out by a man named Li Bao and was recorded in an inscription on the cliff above the north entrance of the tunnel : In the fourth year of the Jingyuan era (263),12th month, 10th day, the Bandit-Suppressing General, the Marquis of Futing, Li Bao of Qiaoguo, whose polite name is Xiaozhang, led two thousand Middle Army troops, stone masons, and carpenters and first opened this gallery road.142 (ij) Only a few badly eroded characters of this terse record, which recalls the first inscrip­ tion at the Stone Gate, Opening the Bao-Xie Road, of 66 c . e ., have survived. It was recut,

however, south of the tunnel, probably during the Sui or Tang dynasty, for reasons that remain a mystery. Next to this second version of the inscription, in calligraphy that appears to be by the same hand, was a recutting of a now-lost text announcing that two men, Pan Zongbo and Han Zhongyuan, carried out repairs on the road in 270 under the Western Jin dynasty.143For the next two hundred years, the Stone Gate appears to have been forgotten and the road abandoned by travelers.144 At some time during the late Han or Wei periods, or perhaps slightly later, sev­ eral undated inscriptions in or near the Stone Gate introduced textual interventions in the landscape that are not tied to any particular event or person but serve as iden­ tifying site names or labels. Inside the tun­ nel two large characters, thirty-five centimeters high, read “Stone Gate” (Shi­ men) (fig. 1.23). Guo Rongzhang notes that the structure of the characters is very like that of the same two words as they appear in the Eulogy of the Stone Gate, especially in the way that the left vertical stroke in the “door” radical bows outward. Guo suggests that the anonymous calligrapher studied the Eulogy and enlarged the two characters to produce the oversized inscription.145 Whatever the calligrapher’s methods or motivations, the characters placed near the northern entrance, like a cartouche on a map, announced to travelers the name of the tunnel they had just entered. Across from the Stone Gate, on the opposite bank of the Bao River, another inscribed site name, “Stone Tiger,” directed attention to a boulder on a mountain called “Stone Tiger Peak.” Viewed from a distance, the boulder resembles a tiger crawling up the mountain (fig. 1.24).146 If the “Stone Tiger” inscription was indeed written dur­ ing the Han or Wei periods, it was one of the earliest examples of a type of mo^ia that

Fig. 1 .2 3 . u S to n e G a te ” ( S h im e n ) . U n d a te d . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 82 x 50 c m . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to : C o u r te s y o f G u o R o n g z h a n g .

became ubiquitous in later centuries. Carved directly into stone at the sites they identify, these metaphoric toponyms point to imagined resemblances between geological formations and real or mythic figures, animals, or man-made artifacts.147 Another metaphoric site name carved near the Stone Gate appeared on a large boul­ der on the bank of the Bao River, some 1,500 meters south of the tunnel (fig. 1.25). This formation merited an entry in Wang Xiangzhi’s geographical survey, Geography ofFamous Places (Yudi jisheng), published in 1227:“There is a white Jade Basin in the river, a large stone shining white that can contain five dou., , 148The two characters “jade basin” (yupen), each thirty to thirty-five centimeters high and written hori­ zontally on the basin-shaped stone, eventually became a tourist attraction listed among the “Twenty-four Scenes of the Bao Valley” in a nineteenth-century guide to local scenery.149A third inscription, believed to date from the Wei dynasty, consisted of two large clerical script characters, “rolling snow” (gun xue\ on a stone some ten meters south of the Stone Gate tunnel, at a point where a sudden drop in the bed of the Bao River created turbulent rapids (fig. 1.26). This site was another of the “Twentyfour Scenes of the Bao Valley” and inspired a quatrain by a late Qing dynasty poet: Rolling, rolling, the flying waves like swirling snow, The force like th^ Milky Way poured from heaven. The wave flowers also made the “brush flower” dance, The martial Wei spirit spreads over ten thousand waves.150(iK)

Fig. 1 .2 4 . “ S to n e T ig e r ” ( S h ih u ) . U n d a te d . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r 30 c m w id e . H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . (^Above) V ie w o f o r ig in a l s it e n e a r t h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. P h o to s : S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i B a o - X ie d a o y a n jiu h u i a n d S h a a n x i H a n z h o n g s h i b o w u g u a n , S h im e n H a n h/e/ s h is a n p in , u n p a g in a t e d .

Fig. 1 .2 5 . ( A b o v e ) ” J a d e B a s in ” ( y u p e n ) . U n d a te d . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r 3 0 — 35 c m h ig h . O r ig in a l s it e n e a r t h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f G u o R o n g z h a n g .

Fig. 1 .2 6 . ( L e f t ) " R o llin g S n o w ” ( G u n x u e ). U n d a te d . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r 3 5 — 36 c m h ig h . O r ig in a l s it e n e a r t h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. ( M id d le ) In k r u b b in g . ( B o t ­ t o m ) D e t a il o f s to n e . P h o to s :C o u r te s y o f G uo R ongzhang.

The “martial Wei spirit” alludes to an old belief that the two characters “rolling snow” were written by the warlord Cao Cao (155-220) during a visit to Hanzhong. This unverifiable attribution inspired someone to add Cao, s honorific title “king of Wei” next to the characters. The character gun, written without the “water” radical as it is in the inscription, is the name of a ritual garment. The absence of the radical has been explained as a kind of orthographic joke:it is the Bao River just below the inscription that provides the missing “water” radical.151 Cao Cao was a noted cal­ ligrapher and poet, but the attribution of the calligraphy in the Bao River valley has no historical basis. This did not stop a Qing dynasty epigrapher from exclaiming that “formerly, people compared Cao Cao to a lion, thus alluding to his love of action; now, looking at this calligraphy, it is like seeing the m an., , 152

NEW R O A D S A N D NEW V O I C E S AT T H E S T O N E G A T E The history of the Stone Gate and of the Bao-Xie Road fades into obscurity follow­ ing the repairs carried out under the Jin dynasty in the third century. For several

decades the tunnel and the surrounding territory of Hanzhong, known during this period as Liangzhou, passed from the control of one short-lived kingdom to another until being incorporated into the Eastern Jin dynasty. Hanzhong remained within the territory ruled by emperors of the Southern Dynasties, who had their capital at distant Jiankang (Nanjing) and showed little interest in road building. This north­ western corner of their domain was of great strategic importance, however, owing to frequent uprisings by minority tribes and to the threat of invasion by troops of the Northern Wei dynasty, established in 386 by the Xianbei Tuoba clan. Beginning in 495, in the course of a large-scale invasion of the south, ruled at the time by the Qi dynasty, Hanzhong was attacked repeatedly by Northern Wei troops. In 504, the newly established Liang dynasty suffered a geopolitical disaster when the governor of Hanzhong defected, ceding the territory he had administered to the Northern Wei. W ithin a few years, in spite of recurring skirmishes with the Liang and upris­ ings of Di minority tribesmen, massive road building was under way in Hanzhong, and the practice of carving texts at the Stone Gate resumed. Inscription for the Stone Gate (Shimen ming), composed by a minor official named Wang Yuan and carved in 509 on the east wall of the tunnel, echoes the visual and literary form of Eulogy of the Stone Gate directly across from it (plate 3,figs. 1.2b, 1.27).153 As we w ill see, however, the Inscription departs from the rhetoric of earlier writing at the Stone Gate by treating road building not as a triumph of administration but as a feat of engi­ neering and by pointedly directing the reader’s gaze to the scenery along the Bao-Xie Road.



This gate was bored during the Yongping era (58-75) of the Han dynasty, and since then it has almost been five hundred years. Throughout the ages, the Rong and Yi tribes have arisen time and again.154 It was abruptly opened and abruptly closed, so there was never any regularity as to whether it was clear or blocked. From the time the Jin court moved south (in 317), this road has been abandoned. Its numerous cliff walls collapsed and the streamside trestles were buried. For a long time, several // north and south of the gate, carts or horses could not pass. Only after clinging to vines or holding on to creepers was it possible to reach. In the first year of the Zhengshi era of the imperial Wei (504), Hanzhong submitted its territory, and the Bao-Xie Road was reopened.155

Fig. 1 .2 7 . In s c r ip t io n fo r t h e S t o n e G a te (S h im e n m in g ) . 509 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 175 x 215 c m . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f G uo R ongzhang.

One li north of the gate, on the western cliff, the mountain was pene­ trated to make a road that wound through the sheer cliffs. But along the nine bends nothing could be added, and on the route there were great obstacles. Travelers were embittered by this. When Liang[zhou] and Qin[zhou] first submitted,156trustworthy and talented men were needed but were hard for the court to find, and praise was given to good magistrates. In the third year (506), [the throne] appointed the Dragon-Prancing General, supervisor of military affairs in Liangfzhou] and Qin[zhou], regional inspector of Liangzhou and Qinzhou, Yang Zhi (457-516) of Taishan.157 He set up banners from Bo[zhong] to the Yang [River]/58pacified the territory, and soothed the borders, and in this possessed the manner of [Yang] Shuzi.159 Seeing that the natural barriers were hard to surmount and that transportation was difficult and dangerous, he memorialized to open the old road south of Huiche in order to relieve the burden of labor and to offer the convenience of roads wide enough for carriages to travel alongside one another.160 The court dispatched Assistant Director of Construction Jia Sande to lead 10,000 convict laborers and one hundred stone masons to collectively complete the work. Sande was clever and perspicacious, with a keen understanding of obscurities. Even Yuankai bridging the [Yellow] River or Deheng reducing the pedaling of looms did not equal his marvelous [skill].161 Work began on the tenth day of the tenth month of the fourth year [of the Zhengshi era] (507) and was finished in the first month of the second year of the Yongping era (509). The trestles are four zhang wide and the road six zhang.162 In all places [workers] filled in gullies and bridged ravines, leveled barriers and bridged dangerous places. From Huiche to the mouth of the [Bao] Valley for more than 200 ", linked carriage shafts and paired reins can advance [side by side]. Of things that wise men of the past could not have wrought and former sages gave up imagining, there are none that have not been fully real­ ized in this work. If Wang Sheng were to tread [this road], he would not sigh leaning over the depths, and if Mr. Ge [Zhuge Liang] were alive, he would have the good fortune of ceasing work on the wooden oxen.163 Thus it is that the profits from animals and produce, salt and iron, and the abundance of silks and woolens satisfy all w ithin the streams, all the people are prosperous, and commoners rest their shoulders. How great it is!

W ithout thinking like that of [Lu] Ban and [Wang] Er,or plan­ ning to equal that of Zhang [Heng] and Cai [Lun], loyal to public good and forgetful of private gain, how could this have been accomplished?164 I therefore have composed an inscription that reads:

The Dragon Gate— that excavation Was a manifestation of the great Yu.165 At this cliff the tunnel Began with the Han emperor. Guiding these central states Expanding to the four directions: What was this achievement?

It was done with ease and vigor. Eliminating depths, eliminating obstacles, Such are these trestles, these beams. In the west, linked to Qian and Long, In the east, controlling Fan and Xiang.166 The rivers and mountains might be dangerous, But the virtue of the Han was strong. Formerly [this place] was part of the capital region, Now it is a border pass.167 Forever we hold in our hearts the ancient paragons, Their traces remain though the men themselves are gone. W ithout encountering their singular achievements, How can such brilliance be achieved again? Above the rivers, one gazes at the vast brightness, Toward the woods, one looks into the dark expanse. Evening congeals the late dew, Day enfolds the dawn frost. Autumn winds rise in summer, Winter birds cry in spring. Over the winding lofty trestles Carriages rumble on and on. On the perfectly leveled stone road Four-horse teams travel.

The most excellent route in a thousand years, W ith hundreds of carriages, it is renewed. I dare to carve this tortuous cliff To record this great achievement.

Second year, yichou, of the Yongping era of the Wei dynasty (509),the second month, of which the first day jimao, 30th day, wushen, the document clerk of Liang[zhou] and Qin[zho*u], Wang Yuan of Taiyuan Commandery, wrote [this]. The stone master W u Aren of Luoyang in Henan carved the characters.168 (iL) The acquisition of the territory of Hanzhong by the Northern Wei in 504, which opens Wang Yuan’s narrative, came near the height of the dynasty's power. By this time the Tuoba court was established in its new capital at Luoyang and. the sinicization policies of Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471-499), though opposed by members of the Tuoba aristocracy, were well advanced.169 Attempts to conquer the south begun by Emperor Xiaowen were continued by his successor, Emperor Xuanwu (r. 499-515). It was under Emperor Xuanwu that the “Dragon-Prancing General” Yang Zhi was appointed regional inspector of Liangzhou and Qinzhou, which encompassed Hanzhong and the site of the Stone Gate. Although some sections of the road had come back into use after the Northern Wei had taken control of Han­ zhong in 504, Yang Zhi found that the tunnel was blocked and that travelers had no choice but to proceed by an alternate, dangerous passage one li to the north. He proposed rebuilding the road in a memorial approved by the emperor in the ninth month of 507. Work began one month later.170


The Wei History (Wei shu) designates this project as “opening the old Xie Valley Road, , , shorthand for the Bao-Xie Road; what Yang Zhi proposed and carried out, however, was something far more ambitious than restoring ruined sections of the old gallery-roads. Instead, the road was rerouted, extending up the Bao River as before but turning northwest at Liuba (modern Jiangwozi) and then running to Huiche, in modern Feng County, where it met and overlapped with the old Cheng-cang Road leading to the modern city of Baoji. Even though the name KBao-Xie Road” was retained, the road no longer passed through the Xie River valley but extended approximately 115 kilometers from Hanzhong to Huiche.171This rerouting demanded that entirely new zhandao be built from Liuba to Huiche over a distance of some 39 kilometers.



In addition to building these sections of road,Yang Zhi’s project restored access to the Stone Gate tunnel, where Wang Yuan, apparently a member of Yang’s staff, inscribed his text to mark the completion of the work. In comparison with the effusive praise lavished on Yang Mengwen in Eulogy of the Stone Gate, the praise accorded Yang Zhi in the Inscription is tepid. He receives credit for launching the road building through a memorial, which, Kusamori Shin, ic h i speculates, Wang Yuan might have ghostwritten;but likening'the regional inspector toliis distant relative Yang Shuzi (221-278) is the best that Wang has to offer in eulogistic com­

mendation.172 What we know of Yang Z hi, s life may explain this reticence. Placed among those labeled “Cruel Officials” in the Wei History, Yang’s official biography is not pleasant reading. He was a harsh administrator guided by Legalist principles, and his career was tainted by corruption. He forced military hostages to become his personal slaves, for which he was impeached, and he appropriated public funds to build a mansion for himself.173 The true hero of Inscription for the Stone Gate is the assistant director of con­ struction Jia Sande, who was dispatched from Luoyang to supervise work on the road. It was thanks to this brilliant engineer, whom Wang Yuan likens to Lu Ban and Cai Lun— the master carpenter of antiquity and the inventor of p a p e r t h a t “all the people are prosperous and the commoners rest their shoulders/' Specifically appointed in the imperial edict authorizing the project, Jia Sande must have been an experienced administrator and a veteran of the massive building campaign begun in Luoyang after the relocation of the Northern Wei capital. W ith in scarcely ten years, the desolate city had been transformed by the construction of scores of palaces and Buddhist temples.174The techniques of erecting these wooden-frame buildings were transferable to the construction of gallery roads. It is likely also that the hun­ dred stone masons sent to work on the Bao-Xie Road brought with them skills honed through the excavation of Buddhist cave chapels, first at Yungang, outside the former capital of Pingcheng (Datong, Shanxi), and later at Longmen, near Luoyang. While the muscle power for the roadwork came from ten.thousand convict laborers, it was the stone masons who commanded specialized knowledge of how to clear rock and drill postholes for zhandao trestles and beams. Just as the events recorded by Wang Yuan in his Inscription recall those docu­ mented centuries before in Eulogy of the Stone Gate,the basic structure of the two carved texts is also sim ila r^a n introduction followed by eulogistic verses. But unlike the title of Eulogy of the Stone Gate or, more properly, Eulogy of the Former Met­ ropolitan Commandant, His Lordship Yang ofjianwei,W ang Yuan’s title, Inscription for the Stone Gate, refers to a place, not a person. The basic meaning of the word ming is “to inscribe.” This is the sense in which it was used in the Book of Rites and other early texts to refer to the act of casting texts on bronze vessels. As a genre of writing, according to Liu Xie, “ming means to name, to observe an item and to distinguish an article properly and calling it by name. To make this appellation correct and assay its connotation, great moral development is essential/, 175The examples of ming cited by Liu Xie were intended to be inscribed on objects ranging from bronze ves­ sels, musical instruments, statues, and weapons to the carriage and desks of the Yellow Emperor. Emblazoned with inscriptions, these objects were transformed into agents of moral exhortation. Ming could be written also for buildings and geological sites, such as the fords and passes for which the Eastern Han writer Li You (ca. 55-135)

composed texts.176In addition to these examples, Liu Xie lists under the category of ming the steles placed at sites visited by the First Emperor of Qin and the inscription on Mt. Yanran composed by the historian Ban Gu; rather than adorning objects, these stone inscriptions marked sites where important events had taken place. The meaning of Wang Yuan’s Inscription/or the Stone Gate, like that of the ming on objects and sites recorded by Liu Xie, was determined by its position in space. This is apparent from the first two words, “this gate” (ci men), which make sense only when the pronoun “this” is understood to refer to the site where it was carved: inscribed anyplace else, or simply transmitted as a handwritten or printed text, the referential logic of these words is lost Although the introduction of Wang’s Inscrip­ tion, following the model of Eulogy of the Stone Gate, allots praise to men responsible for important interventions in the history of the tunnel and the Bao-Xie Road, the verses that follow depart from the model of the Han dynasty inscription, in which the rhymed eulogy is dedicated to an individual, Yang Mengwen. Although Wang Yuan alludes to the mythic excavations of the sage-king Yu and evokes memories of the Han emperor under whose rule the tunnel was carved, he devotes the final third of his panegyric to describing scenery surrounding the tunnel.177For the first time in the Stone Gate inscriptions, words carved in the landscape refer explicitly to what a reader would have seen moments before entering the tunnel :the expanse of river and its forested banks, the zhandao stretching into the distance, and carts traveling over the wooden trestles. Writing about landscape was not an isolated literary invention of Wang Yuan. In the early sixth century, landscape poetry was a flourishing and still relatively new genre, in both northern and southern China.178 Although only a short section of Inscription for the Stone Gate employs the language of landscape poetry, Wang Yuan may have been one of the first writers to have verses carved on stone in the midst of the scenery they described.179 -

Another feature of the Inscription that makes it different from earlier texts at

the Stone Gate is Wang Yuan’s expression of respect for specialized knowledge pos­ sessed by men like Jia Sande. Wang's desire to acknowledge the importance of craft skills may account also for another unusual feature of the text:the inclusion of the name of the carver, W u Aren of Luoyang, who must have been one of the stone masters (shishi) sent from the capital to work on the Bao-Xie Road. Like the masons of the Eastern Han who carved their names in tombs and in aboveground shrines they fashioned, W u surely possessed what has been called “craftsman’s literacy.”180 Although an illiterate carver could have cut into stone the characters of the Inscrip­ tion that had been brushed on the wall of the tunnel, the carving displays the firm grasp of orthography and stroke order possessed by someone who knew how to write himself. As a native of Luoyang who no doubt learned his craft (as well as the skills of reading and writing) there, W u Aren was active when the sound of hammers

chiseling stone rang through the new capital and its environs. At the Longmen cave chapels outside the city, master carvers produced both figurative icons and dedica­ tory texts in the limestone cliffs above the Yi River. Craftsmen also carved large numbers of stone epitaphs for the tombs of the imperial family and aristocrats buried in the Mangshan necropolis northwest of Luoyang. On assignment at the Stone Gate, W u Aren brought to this newly acquired outpost of the Northern Wei empire expertise gained in a metropolitan setting. His availability was a great asset to Wang Yuan when he decided to have his text carved in the tunnel. Although Wang traditionally has been credited as both the author of the Inscription/or the Stone Gate and its calligrapher, this attribution can be inferred from only two verbs in the text. The passage of the introduction I have translated as “I therefore have composed an inscription” (nai zuo ming), like most such phrases in classical Chinese, does not make explicit the subject of the verb zuo, leaving open the possibility that someone else was the author. The words “Wang Yuan wrote” (Wang Yuan shu) that come at the end of the text do make clear who did the writing, but the word shu can mean both “to compose a text” and “to write calligraphy.”181 Nevertheless, in the absence of the name of any other donor or participant in fashioning the monument, it is reasonable to accept the traditional attribution of both the calligraphy and the text to Wang Yuan. This man, known to history only through the appearance of his name at the Stone Gate, was a native of Taiyuan in Shanxi and presumably learned to write there. It is evidence from Luoyang, how­ ever, that allows us to reconstruct the history of Northern Wei calligraphy during Wang’s lifetime and to place his writing in the context of early-sixth-century inscriptions.182 During the first decade after the relocation of the capital, stone inscriptions in Luoyang drew on two different traditions of epigraphy and two different approaches to stone carving.183The first derived from writing on monuments from the Han, Wei, and }in dynasties that had survived in the city, including the Stone Classics (Shijing) carved in the second century, which displayed clerical script char­ acters carved in sharply defined, angular shapes (fig. 1.28). Although some strokes widen and taper, the pronounced modulations of brushwork seen in writing on wooden slips from the Han period generally are absent, and visual effects generated by the chisel_ squared-off dots and sharply defined “heads” of strokes— rather than those easily generated by the brush are dominant. Under the sinicizing policies of Emperor Xiaowen, these inscribed artifacts from earlier dynasties found in Luoy­ ang acquired an aura of authority and prestige that made them compelling stylis­ tic models for public writing in many contexts. This can be seen in Record of an Imagefor Niu Jue (Niu Jue zaoxiangji) carved in the Guyang Cave at Longmen in 495 (fig. 1.29). Here, sharply defined beginnings of strokes and triangular dots closely

resemble forms in clerical script used for imperially sponsored stone monuments in Luoyang centuries before. At the same time, however, the inscription displays elem ents o f n e w ly m a tu re zhen, or zhenli, scrip t, k n o w n later as kaishu or stan dard

script:wave strokes prominent in clerical script are suppressed, horizontal strokes tilt upward to the right, vertical strokes generally are thicker than horizontal strokes, and complex internal movements of the brush form “shoulders” at the corners of elements such as the “mouth” radical. More or less contemporaneously, a style of writing appeared in Luoyang that was closer to that of carved calligraphy from southern China and in which characters show vivid traces of brush-written forms. In the Epitaph for Yuan Xiang (Yuan Xiang muzhi ming) of 508 traces of subtly tapering strokes produced by rapidly changing pressure on the brush tip were faithfully reproduced by the carver (fig. 1.30). This writing shows that the carver’s chisel was placed in the service of the brush, transcribing into the surface of the limestone slab minute inflections generated by motions of the calligrapher’s wrist and fingers. Seen in relation to carved writing produced in the capital, Wang Yuan, s Inscriptionfor the Stone Gate belongs to the same category of zhen, or standard, script used both in Longmen inscriptions and in epitaphs. The horizontal strokes slanting upward to the right, vertical strokes ending in pointed hooks, and the distinctive “shoulders” of box-shaped elements all indicate that Wang Yuan had mastered cal­ ligraphic styles practiced in the Northern Wei capital. But his calligraphy was unfettered by the principles of composition and brushwork that governed writing on stone in Luoyang. Unlike the characters in Record ofan Imagefor Niu Jue or Epitaph for Yuan Xiang, those of Wang Yuan’s inscription fit only loosely into a grid (plate 3). Viewed in vertical columns— a visual effect missed almost totally when the inscrip­ tion is studied in rubbings cut into album format— each character seems to be aligned on a different axis.184 There is also a strong back-slant in the characters, produced by vertical strokes leaning toward the left. Both the vertical and the horizontal spacing become less regular toward the end of the inscription, where the characters are closer together. What differs most from the style of writing in Luoyang is the softening of silhouettes and the rounder, blunter beginnings and endings of strokes in the Inscrip­ tion, for which there were no close parallels in the carved texts in the capital. There was, however, a monumental display of just this form of carved writing on the opposite wall of the Stone Gate tunnel. The structure of Wang Yuan’s characters is that of Northern Wei standard script, but the brushwork resembles that produced by the centered-tip method of writing in Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate. Wang’s calligraphy does display more modulations and complexities of brush movement, but the exam­ ple of Han calligraphy, like the example of the literary form of the earlier text, must

have been an important model— a local tradition of writing of which Inscription for the Stone Gate became a part. What Wang Yuan may have hoped to achieve was both a textual and a visual resonance with the Han inscription that a reader turning from the west to the east wall of the tunnel readily would have discerned.

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Fig. 1 .2 8 . F r a g m e n t o f t h e S t o n e C la s s ic s . U n d a te d , c a . 175. S to n e . S h a n g h a i M u s e u m . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f X ue L ei.

Fig. 1 .2 9 . (T o p r ig h t ) R e c o r d o f a n Im a g e f o r N iu J u e ( N iu Jue z a o x ia n g ji) . 4 9 5 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n . G u y a n g C a ve , L o n g m e n , H e n a n . P h o to : SDZS, 6 :p i. 3 8.

Fig. 1 .3 0 . ( B o t t o m r ig h t) E p it a p h f o r Y u a n X ia n g ( y u a n X ia n g m u z h im in g ) . 5 0 8 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e e p it a p h . K y o to U n iv e r s ity . P h o to :SDZS, 6 :p i. 51.


务茸? f

_ .騎今萄

Fig. 1 .3 1 . T h e c h a r a c t e r s L u o y a n g f r o m In s c r ip t io n fo r th e S t o n e G a te . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n . P h o to :S h im e n m in g , 69.

Fig. 1 .3 2 . L it t le R e c o r d o f t h e S t o n e G a te ( X ia o S h im e n j i ) . 5 0 9 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 98 x 28 c m . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s u e m . P h o to : SM SK, 2 8.

What was the contribution of the carver, W u Aren, to the visual form of the inscription? There are signs that W u did his best to transform into carved lines the traces of Wang Yuan’s brush. This is evident in the many passages in which W u carefully reproduced the subtle elasticity of shapes created by changes in pressure on the brush— effects that come easily in brush-written calligraphy but are repro­ duced only with great effort in stone. The most dramatic of these is the abbreviation of the character “Luo” in the word “Luoyang, , at the very end of the text, where Wang Yuan flourished his brush, linking strokes as they would be linked in running script and presenting W u Aren with the challenge of carving in this unusual form the name of his own home district (fig. 1.31). The rebuilding initiated by Yang Zhi was the last major campaign of work on the Bao-Xie Road documented by stone inscriptions from the medieval period.

It is fitting, therefore, to give the last word to someone who actually was engaged in work at the site, directly supervising thousands of convict laborers and stone masters:Jia Sande, the engineer praised by Wang Yuan. Carved just to the right of Inscription for the Stone Gate is a brief text sometimes called Little Record of the Stone Gate (Xiao Shimen ji) (figs. 1.2b, 1.32): On the western wall (of this tunnel) the text concerns the opening of the Stone Gate in the Yongping era of the Latter Han. Now, the Great Wei has changed the fifth year of Zhengshi to the first year of Yongping. My work went on to the second year, first month. Both the year of the completion of the opening and that of the restoration are called Yong­ ping. Ancient and modern [two missing graphs] are the same! Gentle­ men of later times will hear of these different events at the same time. Jia Zhe, whose polite name is Sande.185 (iM) Jia Sande, whose personal name was Zhe, was not simply a master engineer:he was also an attentive reader alert to the odd coincidences of history. Directing our atten­ tion to the west wall of the Stone Gate tunnel and to Eulogy of the Stone Gate carved there, Jia invites the reader to ponder the fact that the tunnel was first excavated during the Yongping era of the Latter (Eastern) Han, while his work restoring the road was completed in another Yongping reign period, this time under the Northern Wei, which he refers to as the “Great Wei.” For the first time at the Stone Gate, and perhaps for the first time anywhere in China, an inscribed text specifically refers to another nearby, underscoring through this intertextual allusion the spatial relation­ ship between two inscriptions. The calligraphy of Jia Sande’s short inscription resem­ bles that of Wang Yuan’s, though there are just enough stylistic differences, such as the extreme elongations of diagonal strokes, to raise the possibility that Jia wrote the characters himself, inscribing the presence of an engineer-author-calligrapher into the history of the Stone Gate.

R I S I N G W A T E R S A N D T H E D I S A P P E A R A N C E OF T H E S T O N E G A T E As a short account in chapter 5 will show, the history of epigraphy at the Stone Gate did not end in the sixth century, though the nature of the texts carved there by literati tourists and antiquarians from the Song through the Qing dynasty had little to do with road building. By far the most dramatic episode in the later history of this Han dynasty marvel of administration and engineering came in the twentieth century, when the tunnel, but not its most important inscriptions, disappeared.

In 1960 and 1963, the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Research Institute conducted the first systematic, on-site investigations of the inscriptions and their relation to the Bao-Xie Road, traces of which were visible in the cliffs north and south of the tunnel. These studies began just as the history of the Stone Gate was about to draw to a close.186 In the mid-1960s, the Chinese government decided to build a dam across the Bao River to provide water for irrigation and for the produc­ tion of electricity. Between 1969 and 1971,provincial and local cultural agencies carried out an astonishing project of rescuing the Stone Gate inscriptions.187In what was surely the most arduous feat of carving stone seen in the Bao River valley since the tunnel was excavated almost exactly nineteen hundred years before, workmen armed with drills, chisels, and small explosives removed the inscribed calligraphy from the walls of the tunnel and from the cliffs and boulders beyond. Once the huge chunks of stone, some weighing as much as ten tons, were detached from the tunnel and cliffs, they were trimmed and their rear surfaces smoothed, a process that transformed the moya inscriptions into monoliths resembling freestanding steles (fig. 1.33). The stones were then placed on wooden tracks and rolled to waiting flat­ bed trucks. Some of the inscriptions, including the Inscription for the Stone Gate, cracked into multiple pieces as they were cut from the landscape and had to be fitted back together once the stones were safely transported into Hanzhong.

Fig. 1 .3 3 . R e lo c a tin g in s c r ip t io n s f r o m t h e S to n e G a te . P h o to : SM S K , f r o n t m a t t e r .

On display in a large gal­ lery specially constructed for the stones at the Hanzhong Municipal Museum, the Stone Gate inscrip­ tions stand in orderly array, their original location illustrated by pho­ tographs and by miniature diora­ mas in a separate gallery (fig. 1.34). Moving the inscriptions into the safety of the museum was better than allowing them to disappear, but for anyone gazing across the Bao Valley Reservoir who knows what lies hidden beneath the sur­ face of the water (fig. 1.35),it is

Fig. 1 .3 4 . In s c r ip t io n s f r o m t h e S to n e G a te o n v ie w in t h e

impossible not to feel regret at hav­

H a n z h o n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to :SM SK, f r o n t m a t t e r .

ing missed the experience of travel­ ing over the wooden trestles of the zhandao and entering the tunnel, torch in hand, to read its history.

Fig. 1 .3 5 . B a o V a lle y R e s e r v o ir s h o w in g o r ig in a l s it e o f t h e S to n e G a te . P h o to :A u th o r .

C h a p te r Two

R o a m i n g w ith I m m o r t a l s on C lo u d P e a k M o u n ta in In the summer of 564,Zheng Shuzu (d. 565),an official serving the Northern Qi dynasty, returned to the Shandong Peninsula to become regional inspector (cishi) of Guangzhou. This was the same post held by his father, Zheng Daozhao (4557-516), over fifty years earlier under the rule of the Northern Wei. Zheng Shuzu, s boyhood memories of touring local scenery with his father were still vivid. From w ithin the regional capital, at the site of the modern city of Laizhou, he gazed southward toward a range of mountains, pointed to one, Cloud Peak Mountain (Yunfengshan), and said, “This mountain was named by my father. On it are innumerable traces of his former presence” (plate 4). According to an anonymous essay titled Record of Again Ascending Cloud Peak Mountain (Chong deng Yunfengshan ji) carved on the mountain (see fig. 2.21) that quotes his words, Zheng Shuzu then set out with a party of attendants and assistants to find the traces left behind by his father.1 What they found was a group of inscriptions on the granite slopes of Cloud Peak Mountain. As he trudged upward, following, quite literally, in the footsteps of his father, Zheng Shuzu paused to read the carved text of a eulogy for his late grand­ father, poems describing visions of immortal beings, site names placed on cliffs and boulders, and other inscriptions that evoked both historical and mythic events. During his term as regional inspector of Guangzhou, Zheng Shuzu also revisited Heavenly Column Mountain (Tianzhushan) and Great Platform Mountain (Dajishan), peaks located near Laizhou that also bore inscribed texts composed by Zheng Daozhao or carved in his honor (fig. 2.1). As if encountering a portrait of his late father, or approaching a spirit tablet in a family shrine, Zheng Shuzu was moved to tears by the sight of the carved writing. No historical sources record that Zheng Daozhao was known during his lifetime for his skill as a calligrapher, but it is in this role that he has been honored in the form of a gilded plaster statue cast in the 1990s and housed in a building

Fig. 2 .1 . M a p s h o w in g t h e lo c a t io n s o f m o u n t a in s in S h a n d o n g in s c r ib e d b y Z h e n g D a o z h a o .

dedicated to his memory at the foot of Cloud Peak Mountain (fig. 2.2). His brush held aloft, Zheng stands in the pose of someone preparing to write on a cliff or towering boulder. This vision of Zheng Daozhao is founded on a tradition of antiquarian and epigraphic research that began with Zhao Mingcheng in the early twelfth century.2It was Zhao who first recorded the presence of inscriptions on mountains near Laizhou that bore Zheng’s name and were assumed to be his own compositions, transcribed in his own hand. Known collectively in Chinese scholarship as the Cloud Peak Mountain inscriptions (Yunfengshan keshi), even though they are dispersed among multiple locations, the approximately thirty-seven texts that survive today consti­ tute the largest group of interrelated moya inscriptions from medieval China.3 Although only a few can reasonably be attributed to Zheng Daozhao himself, the inscriptions collectively form a network of cross-references and intertextual allu­ sions that place Zheng at the heart of the project of having them carved. The earliest of the Cloud Peak Mountain inscriptions is dated to 511, just two years later than Wang Yuan, s Inscription for the Stone Gate. Although the Stone Gate inscriptions are in the same medium as those of Cloud Peak Mountain, they differ

in many ways. Those at the tunnel in Shaanxi accu­ mulated over a long period of time ;those at Cloud Peak Mountain and the other sites associated with Zheng Daozhao were carved within a period of no more than two years, between 510,when Zheng arrived in the area, and 512,when he departed. Unlike those at the Stone Gate, which are concen­ trated at one site, to which the Bao-Xie Road chan­ neled potential readers, the inscriptions on the mountains in Shandong require visits to many dif­ ferent locations. At Cloud Peak Mountain and Heav­ enly Column Mountain, the reader must move upward along a vertical axis in order to reach the interrelated texts. At Great Platform Mountain, the placement of the inscriptions on several adjacent peaks demands movement upward, along multiple vertical axes, and also laterally, across a horizontal plane extending for more than a kilometer from north to south and east to west. Unlike the Stone Gate inscriptions, which were closely related to administrative and bureau­ cratic processes, Zheng Daozhao, s inscriptions have

Fig. 2 .2 . S t a t u e o f Z h e n g D a o z h a o .

no direct connection to public events, though Zheng

U n d a te d , c a . 1 99 0 . G ilt p la s t e r . C lo u d

held high office in the regional administration of

P e a k M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :A u th o r .

the Northern Wei dynasty at the time they were carved. Instead, they deal almost exclusively with matters related to Zheng and his family or friends. The inscriptions differ also in encompassing a greater variety of literary genres and semiotic functions. The liter­ ary form of a text dedicated to Zheng Daozhao’s father, Zheng Xi (425-492), carved in two different locations, is similar to that of Eulogy of the Stone Gate and Inscription for the Stone Gate. Instead of marking the sites of significant events in Zheng X i, s life, however, the inscriptions commemorate his death and burial; and although his tomb was located far away in Henan, the inscriptions functioned, I w ill argue, as substi­ tute epitaphs dedicated to his memory. Lyric poems ascribed to Zheng Daozhao— — perhaps the first to be carved on stone in China— combine descriptions of actual events in which Zheng participated with his visualizations of purely imaginary scenes. The most numerous inscriptions identify sites in the landscape and, through their semantic content and their locations in space, invoke the pres­ ence of supernatural beings.

Collectively, the Cloud Peak Mountain inscriptions transform the terrain where they appear into landscapes structured by human agency. The transforma­ tion of the raw material of nature into landscape takes place, in the words of W. J. T. Mitchell, when “cultural meanings and values are encoded, whether they are put there by the physical transformation of a place in landscape gardening and archi­ tecture, or found in a place formed . . . b y nature.”4 In the mountains of Shandong marked by Zheng Daozhao, meaning was encoded through acts of seeking out, nam­ ing, and inscribing what had been mere accidents of geology. Not only did the carved texts confer new significance on particular sites, but they also transformed these peaks into what Henri Lefebvre has termed "representational spaces■ ” As an exam­ ple of such a space, Lefebvre cites the road to Santiago de Compostela. In medieval Europe, this pilgrimage route was seen as the earthly equivalent of the Milky Way crossing the vault of heaven and linking the constellations Cancer and Capricorn) W ithin the culture of medieval China, the representational spaces created by the inscribed mountains in Shandong were analogues of the cosmos itself;and their underlying structural logic was like that of altars, imperial parks, or decorated tombs that embodied concepts of how human beings, or their spirits in the afterlife, might orient themselves in relation to mythic realms and the beings and forces to be encountered there. If the inscribed mountains are interpreted as representations, they must be 、 approached as the products of a shaping intellect. Meticulous stylistic analysis carried out by scholars in China and Japan shows that Zheng Daozhao did not write all of the inscriptions traditionally attributed to his hand, and he cannot be consid­ ered the sole author of the representations structured by the texts. But it is equally clear that none of the inscriptions would have been carved i f Zheng had not gone to Shandong, and it is with the history of his career that exploration of the moun­ tains can begin.

Z H E N G D A O Z H A O OF X I N G y A N G Zheng Daozhao was born into one of the great families of Han Chinese who served the Northern Wei dynasty, which was founded by the Tuoba clan of the non-Chinese' Xianbei people.6Like the Cui and Lu families, who played a similar role in the social and political structure of the Northern Wei, the Zheng had produced generations of government officials from the Han period onward. Intermarrying with the Tuoba imperial house— Zheng’s sister was the concubine of Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471— ' 499)— these families participated in the gradual sinicization of the Tuoba, a process that was consolidated by Emperor Xiaowen’s decision to make Chinese dress and

language mandatory at his court and to move his capital, in 493, from Pingchejig to Luoyang, which had been a site of Chinese capitals from the Eastern Zhou period onward. Zheng Daozhao’s biography reports that from childhood he was fond of study and became widely familiar with various schools of thought.7His natural abilities, coupled with his illustrious family background, enabled him to rise quickly in the central administration of the Northern Wei state during the final years when the capital was still in Pingcheng. In 492, when his father, Zheng Xi, director of the Palace Library (bishu jian), died in office in Pingcheng, Zheng Daozhao interrupted his own flourishing career to escort his father’s coffin to the family’s home county of Xingyang in Henan for burial. When Zheng returned to official life in the new capital at Luoyang after three years of mourning, he resumed his status as a favorite of Emperor Xiaowen, who told Zheng that he had missed his presence at literary gatherings.8 During the late 490s Zheng attained the rank of vice-director of the Palace Library (bishu cheng) and vice-director of the Secretariat Chancellery (zhongshu shilang), but Emperor Xiaowen’s death in 499 marked the beginning of a decade of political setbacks and frustrations. In 502 Zheng’s cousin was put to death for his involvement in a plot against the new emperor, Xuanwu (r. 499-515). Although Zheng escaped serious punishment, he was briefly demoted. In 504 he became chancellor of the School for Sons of the State (guozi jijiu), a post for which he was ■ideally suited by temperament and by education. Finding the buildings under his supervision badly run down, he submitted a memorial in 505 calling for their renovation and for the restoration of the Stone Classics from the Han and Wei periods, which were still preserved south of the city at the site of the National University: In the humble view of your servant, the way of lofty governance requires talented people;and as for the essence of cultivating talent, there is nothing more important than education. At present, although the halls and rooms of the School for Sons of the State are roughly established, actual classwork is lacking.9 At the National University south of the city, the Stone Classics of the Han and Wei are in ruins, grown over with brambles.10 Passing boys and herdsmen sigh over this. If people with ordinary feelings11are truly moved to mourning, how then could your servant, personally in charge of the matter, not speak out? [I]wish that Your Benevolent Majesty would direct his attention to the review of this matter. If the humble opinions of your servant should happen to be appropriate, I request that you again order the Department of State Affairs and the Chancellery to investigate and

discuss the scale of construction [at the site].12 Thus may the “Five Harmonies” spring up revived, and the ruined stones be restored in less than a day’s time.13Erecting the old classics in the imperial capital and spreading these splendid models into eternity— this is an excellent undertaking for the ruler of the world.14(2A) Following the text of the memorial in the Wei History, the words bu cong, “not fol­ lowed,Htersely summarize the imperial response to Zheng’s proposals. Two other memorials urging the emperor to promote Confucian education finally moved Emperor Xuanwu to praise Zheng’s virtue, but his policy recommendations were otherwise ignored. A turning point in Zheng Daozhao’s life came in 510, when he left the capital to assume the post of regional inspector in Guangzhou, an administrative unit in what is today eastern Shandong. He simultaneously held the rank of General of Eastern Pacification (Pingdong jiangjun) and was based in the city of Laizhou, about sixteen kilometers south of the coast of the Bohai Gulf. It was not a good time to hold office in this part of China, where famines broke out in the winter and early spring of 511. In spite of the harshness of the times, Zheng was a lenient official, loved by his subordinates and by the common people. Beyond what is recorded in the Wei History, we know little about Zheng’s performance in public life during his years in Guangzhou. In 513 he was reassigned to Qingzhou (Shandong), where he also served as regional inspector. He was recalled to the capital in 516 to become director of the Palace Library but died suddenly of a violent illness later that year.

G R E A T P L A T F O R M M O U N T A I N A N D T H E C R E A T I O N OF R I T U A L S P A C E Records of Zheng Daozhao’s life in the official dynastic histories, on which the preceding biographical sketch is based, contain only one reference to a stone inscrip­ tion, said to have been carved on a mountain south of Laizhou where Zheng built a pavilion called the Hall of White Clouds (Baiyuntang).15Although this may refer to Cloud Peak Mountain and to a now-lost inscription there, it is at Great Platform Mountain that two inscriptions containing the words “Hall of White Clouds” can still be seen. This is not, however, why I begin with this site, where the earliest dated inscription, from the year 512, postdates those on Cloud Peak Mountain and Heav­ enly Column Mountain. The reason to explore Great Platform Mountain first is that the texts carved in the landscape there define a spatial environment in a way that can serve as a model for understanding how inscriptions on the other two moun­ tains generated meaning through the interaction of words and topography.

Like the names of innumerable other mountains in China, that of Great Platform Mountain refers not to a single towering formation but to a cluster of peaks.16 Located ten kilometers east of Laizhou, these peaks encircle a valley run­ ning approximately one and a half kilometers from east to west and one kilometer from north to south. Today, the valley is entered from the southwest by a paved road that passes by a reservoir and leads to a National Forest Bureau office on the valley floor. W ithin the valley and on the surrounding peaks are sites marked by inscrip­ tions from the sixth century that can be linked to Zheng Daozhao (the locations of nine are shown in fig. 2.3). Because the inscriptions on the highest peaks can be reached only by ascending steep slopes covered by dense thorny bushes and thick grasses, a visitor hoping to tour the sites of all the carved texts must devote at least two and a half days to arduous hiking.17

Fig. 2 .3 . L o c a t io n s o f in s c r ip t io n s a t G r e a t P la t f o r m M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . D r a w in g a f t e r YFKS, 4 . C o u r te s y o f P ila r P e te r s . ( 1 ) “ T h is is t h e S o u th e r n M o u n t a in G a te o f t h e A lt a r s o f t h e I m m o r t a ls ” (C i X ia n t a n n a n s h a n m e n y e ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 . ( 2 ) I n s c r ib e d A n n o u n c e m e n t

o f th e A lt a r s o f th e I m m o r t a ls ( X ia n t a n m in g g a o ) . U n d a te d , c a . 5 1 2 . ( 3 ) P o e m o n C lim b in g A z u r e S o la r it y R id g e (S h i d e n g Q in g y a n g lin g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 . ( 4 ) T h e A l t a r o f C e n tr a l B r ig h t ­ n e s s ( Z h o n g m in g t a n ) . U n d a te d , c a . 5 1 2 . (5 ) T e m p le o f A z u re M is ts ( Q in g y a n s i) . U n d a te d , c a . 5 1 2 . (6 ) H a ll o f W h ite C lo u d s ( B a iy u n t a n g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 . ( 7 ) T e r r a c e o f V e r m ilio n S o la r it y ( Z h u y a n g t a i) . U n d a te d , c a . 5 1 2 . (8 ) P a la c e o f t h e D a r k N u m in o u s ( X u a n lin g g o n g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 . (9 ) aT h is is th e N o r t h e r n M o u n t a in G a te o f t h e A lt a r s o f t h e I m m o r t a l s ” (C i X ia n t a n b e i

s h a n m e n y e ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 .

There are no traces of ancient paths that Zheng Daozhao or his contempo­ raries might have followed as they explored the mountains, but the locations of the inscriptions and their contents mark out an itinerary that begins in the south, near the mouth of the valley. There, on a reddish granite boulder, two columns of char­ acters announce “This is the Southern Mountain Gate of the Altars of the Immortals” (Ci xiantan nan shan men ye) (plate 5). This simple declaration achieves several things: it initiates the transformation of the otherwise-untouched, anonymous terrain of Great Platform Mountain into a clearly defined space to be entered through a “gate” marked by the carved stone;it directs the visitor’s attention beyond this point of entrance to altars that lie beyond;and, through the directional symmetry that anyone familiar with Chinese cosmology and landscape architecture would expect, it adumbrates the existence of another gate at the other end of the valley. North of the boulder marking the Southern Mountain Gate, on the left side of the modern road into the valley, is an inscription carved on a wall of rock about fifteen meters above the level of the road (fig. 2.4): This is Great Platform Mountain. W ithin, on the Ridge of Central Brightness, and on the summits of cliffs on the four sides, Mr. Songyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang, swept the stones to establish altars of the immortals at five sites. If there are those who nourish the pine groves, grasses, and trees, to them will come honor and good fortune for gen­ erations. It is strictly prohibited to trespass. This is an inscribed announcement of the orders!18 (2B) The five columns of characters that make up this text, known in Chinese scholarship as the Inscribed Announcement ofthe Altars of the Immortals (Xiantan minggao), expand the visitor’s knowledge of the valley by confirming the existence of the altars men­ tioned in the inscription at the Southern Mountain Gate. The announcement explains also the genesis of these sites, identifying them as the work of Zheng Daozhao, who “swept the stones” to clear ground for the altars. The honorific title “Mr. Songyue” (Songyue xiansheng), or “Mr. Sacred Mountain Song, , ’ alludes to the great mountain in Henan not far from Zheng’s hometown of Xingyang. Although this title, which we will encounter again at other sites, could have been a hao, or poetic cognomen, used by Zheng to refer to himself, it does not appear in any of the carved texts explic­ itly identified as his own compositions, and the inscriptions that refer to him in this way, or through the use of other polite titles, probably should be interpreted as the words of his followers or admirers:as we will see, Zheng did not go to the mountains alone, and some of the texts that commemorate his activities must have been com­ posed by others, though likely with his approval or according to his instructions.

Fig. 2 .4 . In s c r ib e d A n n o u n c e m e n t o f th e A lt a r s o f th e Im m o r t a ls ( X ia n t a n m in g g a o ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512. D e ta il o f a s to n e in s c r ip tio n , 5 0 —80 x 4 0 c m . G re a t P la t fo r m M o u n ta in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r.

Fig. 2 .5 . P o e m o n C lim b in g A z u r e S o la r it y R id g e (S h i d e n g Q in g y a n g lin g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 512 . D e t a il o f a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n , o v e r a ll s iz e 3 0 0 x 4 8 6 c m . G r e a t P la t f o r m M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o : C o u r te s y o f S a k a ta R y u ic h i.

Rather than inviting exploration of the valley, the Inscribed Announcement concludes with a “keep out” notice prohibiting transgression of the landscape. This warning can safely be ignored in order to follow the road into the valley to the site of the Forest Btireau office. Two hundred meters north of this modern building, stone steps built in the twentieth century lead up the Azure Solarity Ridge (Qing­ yangling) to a freestanding boulder.19 On the southern face of the stone is a text of 206 characters ascribed to Zheng Daozhao himself (fig. 2.5).20The longest of all the inscriptions at Great Platform Mountain, it is the key to understanding the entire complex of named sites:

A pentasyllable poem on climbing Azure Solarity Ridge of Great Plat­ form Mountain, ten li east of Laicheng, with several followers and ascending [peaks] of the four directions and the central summit to sweep the stones and build altars of the immortals, composed by the Wei director of the Palace Library, metropolitan senior rectifier, Gen­ eral of Eastern Pacification, and regional inspector of Guangzhou, Zheng Daozhao. On ordinary days, I enjoy ancient books,21 On each moon cycle, we open the ritual field.22 On the eastern peak, Temple of Azure Mists, On the western summit, Hall of White Clouds. From the Terrace of Vermilion Solarity one gazes far, On the Cliff of the Dark Numinous colors glow. These are the lofty altars on the four surrounding ridges, W hile the Altar of Central Brightness rises on the hill in front. The spirits* abode is remote and indistinct as the Milky Way, But we can touch their shadows and brush their rainbow skirts.23 Hazy and indistinct are the three or four figures Cloaked in tinged clouds passing by the immortals' chambers. We walk casually among the woods and rocks, W ith clear resonant voices we sing Daoist verses. Hollow valleys harmonize with the sounding chimes, W indy peaks emit floating fragrance. Clear and crisp, this is not vain chanting,


Lingering notes encircle the pinewood beams. I preside over an eastern state, W ith official’s tally in hand, I govern the Qi regidn.24 Taking advantage of and cherishing this moment of leisure, I came to roam in this troubleless realm. Reclining on a crag, we discuss the [Classic of] Filial Piety and the Lao[zi\, Filling our cups with springwater, we speak o f the [Book of] Changes and Zhuang[zi]. Following the texts and listening to fundamentals, Disciples travel amid forests and mountains. I linger and tarry, thinking of the yearly cycle. Alone in a recluse’s garb, I [gaze] at Fusang.25 Perched at leisure of my own accord, I now find myself:


Who can say that I am following the ways of service and retirement?26 (2C) For anyone who reads these words while standing on Azure Solarity Ridge, Zheng’s poem floods the surrounding landscape with new meaning. Marked by the altars mentioned in the Inscribed Announcement^ the valley and surrounding peaks are revealed to be an environment in which human and supernatural realms meet, where ritual observances are performed, and where manifestations of spiritual presences can be expected. At Great Platform Mountain,the poem records, Zheng and others who accompanied him enjoyed the natural scenery and engaged in com­ munal discussion of both Daoist and Confucian texts. The landscape is the setting also for Zheng’s portrayal of himself as an official on active duty and as a recluse roaming the landscape. The significance of the poem, and of the imaginative world it evokes, expands further as exploration of Great Platform Mountain continues. Taking the names listed in the poem as a guide and arduously seeking them out, a determined sixthcentury visitor would have discovered inscriptions on four peaks. Proceeding in the order in which they are named in Zheng’s poem, the inscriptions can be cor­ related with the four cardinal directions: (East) Temple of Azure3 /tistsXQingyansi) of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang

(West) Hall of W hite Clouds (Baiyuntang) of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang "


(South) Terrace of Vermilion Solarity (Zhuyangtai) of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang


(North) Palace of the Dark Numinous (Xuanlinggong) of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang27 (2D) a

In these inscriptions, instead of being called “Mr_ Songyue, , ’ Zheng is identified as “Mr_ Zhongyue,Mor “Mr. Central Mountain,” an appellation that employs an alternate name for Mount Song. Each ends with the particle ye3producing statements that can be understood, in the case of the first site, as “This is the Temple of Azure Mists of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang.” The terse grammar binds the names to the locations where they were carved, and although the names do not include the word “altar” (tan), they clearly were the places correlated with the points of the compass identified as “lofty altars” in the poem carved on Azure Solarity Ridge.28 The central focusr of the space ringed by the four outer altars-was t^ie Altar of Central Brightness named in Zheng’s poem. Today, a trace of this-altar appears

about thirty meters south of the Forest Bureau office. This monument is a three-sided granite boulder, half buried in the ground and protected by a small pavilion (fig. 2.6). Moving counterclockwise, the texts on the three sides of the boulder read as follows: The Altar of Central Brightness of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao of Xingyang (Zhongyue xiansheng Xingyang Zheng Daozhao Zhongmingtan ye). His dwelling is called White Cloud Hamlet in Azure Mists Village (Qz ju suo hao yue Baiyunxiang Qingyanli pe).

Established in the year renchen (Sui zai renchen jian).29 (2E) The date renchen corresponds to the year 512,two years after Zheng arrived in Guangzhou. Although the inscribed boulder is now on the floor of the valley, it originally was on a hill just to the east known as the Ridge of Central Brightness (Zhongminggang)— a site name encountered in the “keep out” notice and in Zheng’s poem. According to local folklore, the stone was moved from its original location by robbers, who dropped it when confronted by local Daoists who spotted the crime in progress. A less colorful though perfectly believable story blames a rainstorm in the year 1824 for washing the b o u ld er down from the hill where it had stood since the sixth century.30The locations of White Cloud Hamlet and Azure Mist Village, pre­ sumably to the west and east of the central altar, remain unidentified. The inscribed names of the altars survived for over fourteen hundred years; there is no evidence, however, that buildings of any kind stood on Great Platform Mountain in the early sixth century. Although future discoveries may uncover ' traces of stone or wooden buildings, it is just as likely that the structures named in the inscriptions existed only in imagination or, more accurately, existed only in the form of writing, fust as names such as “Southern Mountain Gate” transform the geological features on which they are carved into the functional equivalents of man-made structures, an altar, terrace, or hall could be called into existence through inscriptions alone, even if no human eyes read them.31 Having entered the valley of Great Platform Mountain from the south and toured the sites marked by the carved texts, a visitor exiting to the north passes by a low ridge bearing a final inscription. There, on a boulder seven meters high that has fractured into smaller pieces, large characters announce “This is the Northern Mountain Gate of the Altars of the Immortals” (CiXiantan bei shan men ye)— precisely the wording that a reader of the inscription at the corresponding Southern Gate would expect to find. The inscription completes the experience of visiting Great Platform Mountain :the “gate,” a natural formation rather than a man-made struc­ ture, marks the outer boundary of the environment described in Zheng Daozhao’s

Fig. 2 .6 . S to n e m a r k in g th e A l t a r o f C e n tr a l B r ig h tn e s s ( Z h o n g m in g t a n ) . 5 1 2 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 4 6 c m h ig h . G r e a t P la t f o r m M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to : A u th o r .

poem and marked by the carved texts. Beyond ljes the nameless topography of unexplored mountains. No records concerning Great Platform Mountain predate the inscriptions; the peaks existed, of course, but they did not take their place in the cultural geog­ raphy of China until the sixth century, when Zheng Daozhao arrived in Shandong.32 Although Zheng emerges as the prime mover in the early history of human activity in the mountains, a more complicated story of landscape exploration and naming may have begun before he appeared on the scene, and the texts he composed or supervised probably incorporated and imposed order on earlier local traditions. Nevertheless, someone was responsible for deciding the locations and determining the names of the Southern Mountain Gate, the Altar of Central Brightness, and the other sites. While recognizing that a collective, rather than an individual, effort may have been responsible for these acts, it is convenient, in the absence of other evidence, to accept what the inscriptions tell us and to proceed on the assumption that Zheng Daozhao conceived their contents and determined their placement.

The texts carved at Great Platform Mountain reflect historical, literary, and religious traditions that constituted the mental world of the literate elite of medieval China. But the inscriptions and the ideas they embody, as well as the nature of the space they define, can be located more specifically w ithin the history of Daoism. This infinitely complex system of beliefs and practices encompassed both the phil­ osophical systems founded on the Laozi and Zhuangzi and forms of religion adopted by people hoping for benefits in this life and salvation after death or, if possible, the indefinite postponement of death’s arrival.33 To discover that Zheng Daozhao, a staunch Confucian and proponent of classical learning, was immersed in Daoism may at first seem surprising, and scholars in China have attempted to explain Zheng's interest in this religion as a consequence of his thwarted political career in Luoyang.34 It is believable that Zheng found in Daoist beliefs a profound and appealing alternative to the disillusionments of public life, but the trajectory of this narrative, which posits a late-life “conversion” to Daoism, obscures religious and ideological realities of the Northern Wei period, when Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions interacted dynamically.35 According to the dynastic histories, the Zheng family of Xingyang specialized in study of the Book ofChanges (Yijing). Although this text was central to Confucian thought, it was a fountainhead as well of Daoist philosophical speculation and occult practice. Zheng Xi, Daozhao’s father, is credited with writing a commentary on the Book ofChanges, and his brother, Zheng Yi, was “well-versed in the principles of the Yi[jing].n36 Zheng Daozhao alludes to his own study of the Book ofChanges and other classics in his Poem on Climbing Azure Solarity Ridge: “Reclining on a crag, we discuss the [Classic of] Filial Piety and the Lao[zi] / Filling our cups with springwater, we speak of the [Book of] Changes and Zhuang[zi]!t37 His interest'in Daoism was not limited, however, to discussion of classical texts. In the same poem, Zheng Daozhao portrays himself chanting Daoist verses in a landscape dotted by altars where encounters with immortals might take place. According to his son, Zheng “loved immortals and delighted in the Dao.” Zheng Shuzu recalled also that, as a boy living in Guangzhou while his father was regional inspector, local people called him “son of the Daoist master.”38 As it was practiced in northern China during Zheng Daozhao's lifetime, Dao­ ism was a syncretic amalgam of religious traditions dominated by the Celestial Masters school (Tianshi dao).39 The trunk from which other branches of Daoism grew, this school was founded by Zhang Ling (d. 156?) in Sichuan after he received a miraculous visitation from Lord Lao, the deified Laozi, in the year 142. The eccle­ siastical structure organized by Zhang was first known as the Five Bushels of Rice, owing to the requirement that adherents make contributions of grain to local par­ ishes. Zhang and his successors, who declared themselves to be Celestial Masters,

developed a system of ritual worship dedicated to heavenly beings that included the use of talismans and other forms of magic writing and the recitation of scripture. A theocratic state headed by Zhang Ling’s grandson, Zhang Lu (fl. 190—220),was headquartered at Hanzhong, site of the Stone Gate, and controlled part of northern Sichuan and southern Shaanxi during the late Han period. Following the dissolution of their state under the Wei dynasty, adherents of the Celestial Masters migrated to other parts of China. Some participated in peasant uprisings;corrupt clergy and reputed sexual excesses also tainted the reputation of the Celestial Masters. The most important development in the history of this form of Daoism under the Northern Wei was the enactment of reforms promoted by Kou Qianzhi (d. 448), a Daoist master and adviser to Emperor Taiwu (r. 424-452).40 Kou arrived at the capital city of Pingcheng after a period of retreat on Mount Song, where he claimed to have been visited by Lord Lao. W ith this supernatural impri­ matur, Kou set out to rectify what were seen as seditious and libertine practices of the decadent Celestial Masters sect. In particular, Kou placed new emphasis on the correct performance of rituals, persuading the emperor to decree that altars staffed by properly trained priests be erected in the capital of each*z/?ow, or province, of the Northern Wei empire.41 Kou’s success was built on a long-standing attraction to Daoism among the early Northern Wei rulers, who had established an Office of Erudites of Immortals (Xianren boshi) and a Laboratory of Elixirs of the Immortals (Xianren fang) at their courts. Kou Qianzhi himself presided over a grand altar built for him in the southeastern quarter of Pingcheng. It was at this structure, five stories tall, that Emperor Taiwu, who had taken the Daoist title of Perfected Ruler of Great Peace, presented himself to receive magic talismans in 442, a practice continued by some later Northern Wei rulers on the occasion of their coronations.42 Following the relocation of the capital, a new Daoist altar was erected south of Luoyang. The Celestial Masters school was dominant in northern China, especially along the seacoast, during the lifetime of Zheng Daozhao.43 Elements of two other traditions of Daoism, centered in southern China, also were assimilated by north­ erners. The Shangqing school of Daoism, headquartered at Maoshan in Jiangsu, was based on scriptures dictated by spirits to Yang Xi (330-386), a medium who lived in Jurong County, near the Eastern Jin capital at Jiankang (Nanjing).44These texts later were edited by the Daoist master and calligraphy expert Tao Hongjing (456-536), whose teachings gave new importance to meditation and visualization techniques and codified a pantheon of deities. A few decades after the Shangqing scriptures began to appear, other texts authored in southern China became the foundation of the Lingbao, or “Numinous Treasures’” school. Assimilating elements from Bud­ dhism, the Lingbao scriptures stressed ritual correctness, the use of magic talismans, and visualization techniques that were also important in Shangqing Daoism.45

Although the inscriptions at Great Platform Mountain yield no evidence of Zheng’s affiliation with any one school or body of scriptures, they do reflect aware­ ness of the rituals, meditation techniques, and visualizations of deities employed by various Daoist traditions. The mountain inscriptions reveal particular interest in one of the abiding preoccupations of Daoism— achieving communion with immortals, orjcian. The meaning of the term xian, commonly translated as “immortalMin English, is nearly as complex as that of “Daoism , , , and the term has been used to designate a bewildering pantheon of supernatural beings in human or human­ like form. Some were believed to have ascended directly from human existence to a deathless state in which they wandered at ease through the heavens; some remained on earth or lived in paradises reached through caverns and grottoes;others achieved immortality only by casting off their bodies after death.46W hat these three catego­ ries of immortals shared was the state of having been transformed from human into supernatural beings. In the visual arts of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, immortals take the form of dainty, featheryjzeiags^^gmetimes prancing over moun­ tains amid wisps of cloud or riding on dragons or phoenixes.47 The placement on mountains of texts that name or allude to immortals is not surprising, for it was on mountains, where these beings were thought to dwell or temporarily descend to earth, that encounters with them were most likely to take place. Such meetings were greatly desired since they could facilitate a believer’s own achievement of a transcendent state beyond the reach of death. Of the methods employed in Daoism to secure interaction with the immortals, none was more /

important than worship at an altar (tan), the essential element of the Daoist ritual space, or daochang. Whether it was outdoors or enclosed in a building, the preferred location for an altar was on a mountain, which provided a vertical axis of commu­ nication between mundane and divine realms.48As Kristofer Schipper has pointed 1 out, the altar itself was symbolic of a mountain, and the ritualist approaching an altar was said to “enter the mountain,” where he summoned spirits through the j use of recitations, incense, talismans, and offerings.49 The efficacy of an altar and of the rituals conducted there depended on a mode of thinking shared by many ancient cultures that has been called the 'Sym­ bolism of the center.” Whether it was the central position of the ruler in relation to his domain, the siting of the axis mundi around which the universe pivots, or the plan of an altar, locating the center of a real or symbolic space depended on clearly marking the four cardinal directions.50In medieval China, techniques of directional orientation were based on an understanding of the cosmos codified during the Han dynasty. According to a theory known as the Five Phases (Wuxing), all natural pro­ cesses are governed by the ceaseless interactions of five principles, symbolized by wood,fire, earth, metal, and water, which embodied contrasting but complementary

North Winter Black Dark Warrior Palace of the Dark Numinous West Autumn White White Tiger Hall of White Clouds

Center Altar of Centra! Brightness

East Spring Azure Azure Dragon Temple of Azure Mists

South Summer Vermilion Vermilion Bird Terrace of Vermilion Solarity

Fig. 2.7 . C h a r t o f d ir e c t i o n a l , s e a s o n a l, a n d c o lo r s y m b o lis m c o r r e l a t e d w it h t h e F o u r S p ir it u a l A n im a ls a n d s it e s a t G r e a t P la t f o r m M o u n t a in . C o u r te s y o f P a tr ic P ra d o .

forces of yin and yang. Correlated with each phase was a direction, season, and color, as well as a cosmological animal (fig. 2.7). The Five Phases were correlated also with the Five Sacred Mountains, the heavenly Five Emperors, and the Five Planets. The most familiar embodiments of directional correlations in Chinese visual culture are representations of the Four Spiritual Animals, or sishen: Azure Dragon of the East, Vermilion Bird of the South, White Tiger of the West, and the Dark Warrior of the North, represented as a snake entwined around the body of a tor­ toise.51 These easily recognized motifs orient the objects or buildings on which they appear in relation to cosmic spaces beyond. In mortuary contexts, the Four Spiritual Animals oriented the transfigured spirit of the deceased for its journey into the afterlife. This is why, beginning no later than the Han dynasty, images of the animals featured in the painted decoration of tombs and on the sides of coffins.52 Bronze mirrors bearing motifs correlated with the symbolism of the four directions also were provided in tombs for use by the dead as cosmographs “intended to set a man permanently in his correct relation with the cosmos and to escort him to a life in the

h e r e a f t e r . M53

An example from the Eastern Han dynasty is dense with

cosmological significance (fig. 2.8). The circular shape of the mirror symbolizes Heaven and the inner square symbolizes Earth, at the center of which is a round

Fig. 2 .8 . M ir r o r . U n d a te d , E a s te rn H a n p e r io d , 2 5 —2 2 0 . B ro n z e , 17.1 c m w id e . C le v e la n d M u s e u m o f A r t , T h e W o r c e s te r R. W a rn e r C o lle c t io n , 17.9 53 .

knob corresponding to the position of the axis mundi. At the four sides of the inner square are the Four Spiritual Animals paired with birds and deer. That this object was intended to provide a map of the cosmos and a guide to spaces inhabited by immortals is made explicit by the inscription, which describes beings who “do not know death” and who “float and wander through the subcelestial realm, rambling within the four seas., , 54 The symbolism of the Five Phases and of correlational thinking expressed in the visual arts was elaborated with extraordinary complexity in medieval Daoism.

As described in texts of the fourth and fifth centuries, an ever-expanding pantheon of deities inhabited realms organized according to directional and color symbolism.55 As embodied in the design and use of altars, the positions of the four directions and the center were marked and utilized in various ways. According to a description of a Daoist altar in Secret Essentials of the Most High (Wushang biyao), compiled around 580, the ritual space was divided into three superimposed squares. Five tables placed on the altar were dedicated to the Five Emperors believed to preside over heavens corresponding to the four cardinal directions and the center;on these tables were placed five True Writs (Zhenwen) written in red ink on green paper and intended to draw to the altar the deities of the corresponding directions.56Thus arranged, the altar was both a self-contained sacred space for the enactment of ritual and a repre­ sentation or diagram of the cosmos within which the ritual was situated. Complementing these outward, public forms of directionally oriented ritual, Daoist visualization techniques conjured up vivid embodiments of the four direc­ tions. Seated w ithin a meditation chamber, an adept could activate the sacred space of his devotions by summoning the Four Spiritual Animals to occupy and protect the four corners of the structure.57 In some cases, gestures or motions oriented the body to the points of the compass and the forces associated with each. In a visualiza­ tion method prescribed in Shangqing texts, for example, one bows to the five direc­ tions and inhales essences of their different colors.58 At Great Platform Mountain, the symbolism of the four directions was spread across the landscape through the acts of naming sites and carving texts. On peaks at the east and west, south and north, sites named in accordance with the corre­ sponding colors— — azure, white, vermilion, and black— — defined a vast ritual space set apart from the space beyond the inscribed peaks. Although each site may have been a self-sufficient locus of ritual activity, collectively they created a frame for the Altar of Central Brightness, the focal point of the landscape described in Zheng Daozhao’s poem and marked out by the other carVed texts. Like the altar described in Secret Essentials of the Most High, on which five tables corresponded to the four cardinal directions and the center, the inscribed topography of Great Platform Mountain created a cosmographic diagram, the actual mountain peaks delimiting space in the same manner as the carefully placed artifacts on an altar. The use of writing on the mountain was analogous also to techniques used in the preparation of an altar:just as the words inscribed on True Writs were expected to ensure the presence of deities, the characters carved at the altars on the mountain peaks were expected to sanctify the landscape and activate its ritual efficacy. Ultimately, what was produced in the landscape, as on an altar, was an environment for ritual or meditation set apart from the domains of ordinary experience, an environment that Isabelle Robinet has called a “mental location” defined by directional symbolism.59

But why? What did Zheng Daozhao believe that his inscribed interventions in the landscape would achieve? Did he participate in Daoist rituals at the Altar of Central Brightness as his poem suggests? Was he allied with local Daoist organiza­ tions that welcomed the distinguished official into their ranks? No extant sources allow us to answer these questions, but inscriptions on other mountains demon­ strate Zheng’s belief in the power of writing to create terrestrial analogues for unseen, celestial realms.

TH E E P IT A P H AND TH E STO N E C H A M B E R ON H E A V E N L Y CO LU M N M O U N TA IN Heavenly Column Mountain, located about twenty kilometers northeast of the city of Pingdu, looms over the surrounding terrain, covered today by orchards and grape arbors. Although the mountain rises to only 280 meters above sea level, its isolation from other peaks and its steep sides make it easy to understand how this stark pil­ lar of granite acquired its evocative name (figs. 2.9-2.10).60 Standing at almost the exact center of the southern face of the mountain is the earliest dated inscription associated with Zheng Daozhao:Stele ofZheng Wengong (Zheng Wengong bei). This monument was carved in 511 in memory of his father, Zheng Xi, who is identified in the inscription by the honorific title “W engong., , 61The inscription appears on an L-shaped boulder, 4.77 meters high, that tilts forward at an angle of twenty degrees (plate 6,fig. 2.11). Its shape bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a freestanding stele resting on a stone base— a resemblance that probably was enhanced by carving away stone at the sides and top of the boulder to regularize its shape. The side bearing the text was slightly smoothed in the process known in Chinese as jiagong, or “adding work, , ,before the orderly columns of standard script characters were carved. Now protected somewhat by a pavilion constructed over the boulder, the inscription was exposed for over 1,400 years to rain and ice, sharp changes in temperature, and strong winds. The resulting erosion has left the granite face of the boulder so weathered and pitted that many of the characters of the inscription are almost impossible to see. Although n e ith e r the author nor the calligrapher of the Stele ofZheng Wengong is named in the text, Zheng Daozhao traditionally has been credited with playing both roles. This is unlikely. Strict taboos would have made it unsuitable for a filial son to write or perhaps even to speak his father’s personal name.62 Moreover, given the physical labor necessary to inscribe the text, to say nothing of the danger involved— the stele on Heavenly Column Mountain looms over a sheer cliff~it is hard to imagine that Zheng Daozhao performed the exhausting task of writing the calligra­ phy, which must have been brushed directly on the stone before being carved.63

Fig. 2 .9 . V ie w o f H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n t a in , P in g d u , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :A u th o r .

The text of the Stele ofZheng Wengong consists of a short genealogy of Zheng Xi, a summary of his career listing the various official posts he held, and passages of effusive praise for his virtues. The introductory section also names his two sons, Zheng Yi, and Zheng Daozhao, and mentions their ranks and achievements. The death of Zheng Xi, according to the text, was an occasion for national mourning : In the sixty-seventh of his springs and autumns, he took to his bed with illness and died in office. Of the hundred gentlemen, none did not feel the tragedy of a national talent eternally submerged or mourn the perpetual loss of a pillar of the Way. His Majesty suffered utmost grief, sent burial goods, and then ordered the conferral of the posthumous title “Cultured” (Wen).64 (2F) At the end of the prose introduction is a statement explaining the reasons for carving the monument:

[Zheng Xi] is buried on the southern side of Mount Sanhuang, 13 li southeast of the stone gate of Xingyang. Thus it is that his former sub­ ordinates, the comptroller Cheng Tianci of Dongjun and sixty other men, looked at the great distance of the road to the tomb and mourned the fact that his vast accomplishments were not cut on stone. Therefore, we together respectfully tell of his brilliant acts and carve this dark stone. In order to publicize excellence not of this world, we composed this eulogy, which reads .. .6s (2G) There follows a rhymed tetrasyllable eulogy, or song, that recapitulates information from the preface and ends with another reference to the act of carving the inscription: “We carve the stone and inscribe his virtues, to endure as long as the sun.” The Stele ofZheng Wengong shares many features with the moya inscriptions at the Stone Gate, as well as with freestanding steles from the Eastern Han, but in many ways it is an anomaly w ithin the history of writing on stone in China. By the time it was carved, the days when family, friends, students, or political associates could freely produce inscriptions dedicated to deceased or living individuals were

Fig. 2 .1 0 . L o c a t io n s o f in s c r ip t io n s o n H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n t a in , P in g d u , S h a n d o n g . D r a w in g a f t e r yFKS, 6. C o u r te s y o f P ila r P e te r s . (1 ) Stele o f Zheng V^Jengong ( Z h e n g W e n g o n g b e i) . 511. (2 ) aZ h e n g D a o z h a o o f X in g y a n g f i r s t r o a m e d a t H e a v e n ly C o lu m n a n d l a t e r r e s t e d o n C lo u d P e a k ” {Xingyang Zheng Daozhao s h angyou Tianzhu xia xi Yunfeng). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . ( 3 ) l,T h is is H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n t a in ” (Ci Tianzhu zhi shan). U n d a te d , c a . 511. (4 ) In sc rip tio n fo r the S to n e Chamber o f the Eastern P r o m o n t o / y o f Heavenly Column M o u n ta in ( T ia n z h u s h a n D o n g k a n s h is h i m in g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 511.

Fig. 2 .1 1 . Stele o f Zheng l^/engong ( Z h e n g W e n g o n g b e i) . 511. S to n e in s c r ip t io n , t o t a l h e ig h t, 4 7 7 c m . H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n t a in , P in g d u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f S a k a ta R y u ic h i.

time it was carved, the days when family, friends, students, or political associates could freely produce inscriptions dedicated to deceased or living individuals were long past. Beginning w ith a ban on stone steles and other lavish funerary displays enacted in 205 by Cao Cao, the production of inscriptions for public display, includ­ ing commendatory steles for living persons, was regulated by the state.66 Bans on steles during the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties were not uniform ly

enforced, and moya inscriptions in remote areas, such as those inside the Stone Gate tunnel, seem to have been less subject to oversight. Nevertheless, there was a strik­ ing decline in the production of stone inscriptions after the fall of the Han, both in the territory controlled by the Southern Dynasties and in the north. Under the Northern Wei, steles were not officially banned u n til 522, when Emperor Xiaom ing (r. 515-528) issued an edict proscribing excessive displays of wealth ;nevertheless, only about a dozen steles are know n that date from between

the founding of the dynasty and the time the Stele of Zheng Wengong was carved.67 Am ong these were several commissioned by the Xianbei rulers, who erected steles to commemorate their m ilitary victories, inspection tours, displays of im perial prowess at archery, and other events.68 The largest know n im perial stele of the

Northern Wei is titled Eulogy for the Southern Inspection Tour of the Emperor [Wencheng] (Huangdi nanxun zhi song), erected in 461 on an earthen platform in Lingqiu, Shanxi, to commemorate the emperor’s visit to this site. The stele was in fragments when it was discovered, but archaeologists have determined that originally it stood over four meters high.69The dimensions of this massive inscription were approached

by only one other known carving of the Northern Wei:the Stele ofZheng Wengong. Had a m onum ent on this scale dedicated to Zheng X i been raised in the city of Luo­ yang or in Zheng’s hometown of Xingyang, it m ight have left the donors open to the charge of appropriating the trappings of im perial power for the glorification of a private citizen, though one of high rank.

But it is not only the size of the Stele of Zheng Wengong that is unusual:the nature of its commemorative function is also unconventional. Some aspects of the

text seem to place it in the genre of songde bei,or commendatory steles, a category to which the Eulogp of the Stone Gate carved to honor Yang Mengwen also belongs. Both consist of a narrative preface recounting the achievements and virtues of the

dedicatee followed by a section of verse. This is the form also of Wang Yuan’s Inscrip­ tion for the Stone Gate, written, ostensibly, in honor of Yang Zhi and Jia Sande two years before the Stele of Zheng Wengong was carved. The Stele differs from these monuments, however, in recording the date and place of Zheng X i, s death and

burial— information normally found not in commendatory steles but in epitaphs. The late Northern W ei period represents what m ight be called a golden age of epitaphs in medieval China. For citizens of Luoyang, where Zheng Daozhao lived

before his transfer to Shandong, stone epitaphs were a fam iliar part of visual and literary culture.70 These inscriptions had developed first in southern C hina in response, it is generally believed, to the ban on aboveground steles. Instead of erect­ ing freestanding steles in the open air, families began to bury inscribed stones

inside tombs. Placed in either the underground corridor or w ithin the burial cham­ ber itself, the epitaph preserved the identity oi the dead in the murky domain of the afterlife ;no longer,addressed to a public readership in the world of the living,

the epitaph served a function that must have been primarily religious, though the significance of these inscriptions is still not fully understood.71 Although epitaphs appear to have originated in the south, Emperor Xiaowen, the Northern W ei ruler responsible for m oving the capital to Luoyang and for enact­ ing various sinicizing cultural policies, endorsed this form of monument, personally composing the text of an epitaph for Grand Preceptor Feng Xi (d. 495).72 By adopting this and other practices of the native Han Chinese dynasties ruling in the south, Xiaowen sought to enhance the prestige and legitimacy of his own rule. His efforts are reflected in the hundreds of know n epitaphs carved for members of the imperial fam ily and Northern W ei aristocrats, as well as m inor officials and commoners.73

Epitaphfor Yuan Zhent dated 496, is the earliest known example from Northern Wei Luoyang and typifies the literary and material formats of funerary monuments produced in the city during the years that Zheng Daozhao was active there. The slab of limestone, sixty centimeters square, is engraved w ith 295 standard script char­ acters set in a grid. The text begins w ith a prose introduction that chronicles the genealogy and official career of Yuan Zhen, the granduncle of Emperor Xiaowen, and proclaims his virtues and achievements. Then, in language remarkably sim ilar

to that of the Stele ofZheng Wengong, the epitaph records the date and place of Yuan Zhen’s death, “in his fiftieth spring and autumn/* the grieved response of the emperor, and the date of his burial, on the twenty-sixth day of the eleventh month, at the Mangshan necropolis outside the capital. Also presaging the language of the

Stele of Zheng Wengong, the epitaph concludes with tetrasyllable verses introduced by the words “we therefore carved this dark stone to inscribe (ming) his virtue/74 The literary conventions employed in this funerary text for a member of the impe­ rial family and in the Stele ofZheng Wengongwere adopted also for another member of the Zheng fam ily of Xingyang, Zheng Daozhong, whose epitaph was discovered in Xingyang (fig. 2.12).75 From the text of this carved stone we learn that Zheng Daozhong, a cousin of Zheng Daozhao, died in Luoyang and was buried in Xingyang on the twenty-sixth day of the twelfth m onth of 522.

That the Stele ofZheng Wengong reads like an epitaph but was not found at the site of Zheng X i’s tomb puzzled the Song dynasty epigrapher and antiquarian Zhao Mingcheng, who held, office in Laizhou in the early twelfth century.76 D uring his

Cloud Peak Mountain. He noted that although Zheng Xi was a native of Xingyang

and was buried there, the monuments dedicated to his memory were moya inscrip­ tions located far from the Zhengs’ home town. Zhao concluded that the Stele ofZheng Wengong was carved in an area otherwise unconnected to the Zheng family because this was where his son Zheng Daozhao happened to hold office in the early sixth

century. Underlying Zhao’s interpretation of the Stele is his assumption that its text and, hence, its commemorative function were essentially the same as those of an epitaph. The donors, statement supports this idea. Regretting that there was no inscrip­ tion at Zheng X i, s tomb in distant Xingyang, they commissioned the moya stele in

Shandong, creating what might be called a substitute epitaph or epitaph in absentia. How Zheng X i, s admirers organized themselves to sponsor the stele remains

unexplained, but it surely was through the intervention of Zheng Daozhao— one imagines discreet requests soliciting funds for the monument~that the text came to be carved, shortly after he arrived in Laizhou. It is possible also that Zheng had the inscription produced through his own initiative, giving credit to donors named in the text as a way of m aking the tribute to his father appear to be the spontaneous gesture of those who had known and admired him. If Zheng Daozhao and the putative donors

named in the stele text wished to honor Zheng Xi, however, why did they not erect a monument at his tomb in Xingyang? As we have seen, monuments of this scale dedicated to commoners were virtually unknow n under the Northern Wei. Moreover, the discovery of the epitaph of Zheng Daozhong indicates that among the Zheng fam ily flat stones buried underground, not towering monoliths, were the norm al


of m ortuary

inscription. But even if the pro­ duction of large funerary steles had been common practice, there were good reasons why it m ight have been unwise to erect


m onum ent

conspicuous in


the Zhengs ,

native district.

In spite of his many high-sounding titles, Zheng X i, s record in official life was Fig. 2 .1 2 . E pitaph o f Zheng Daozhong. 5 2 2 . In k r u b ­ b in g f r o m a s to n e e p i t a p h , 60 x 62 c m . K a if e n g

far from unblemished. Stingy

M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to : iB eW ng t u s / i u g ii a n , 4 :1 2 9 .

by nature, he accepted bribes

In spite of his m any high-sounding titles, Zheng X i, s record in official life was far from unblemished. Stingy by nature, he accepted bribes in the form of gifts, w hich he “received at his east gate and hawked at the west”; but he would not offer so m uch as a cup of wine or a slice of meat to commoners holding rituals or feasts.77 Not only was Zheng X i, s own biography marred by these lapses, but other members of the Zheng family were thoroughly disliked by people in Xingyang. Zheng X i, s elder brother, Lianshan, had a violent temper and beat his servants, one of whom eventually retaliated by murdering Lianshan and his eldest son, “chopping off their heads and throwing them under a horse trough.” W hen the murderer was appre­ hended by Lianshan, s second son, he was cut up into little pieces.78The biographies of other members of the Zheng family, who appear to have enjoyed lording it over their neighbors, catalogue a wide array of scandals and misdeeds that added to their unpopularity. Both Sakata Ryuichi and Yu Shuting propose that Zheng Daozhao, in col­ laboration w ith the sponsors mentioned in the texts, had the inscription honoring his father carved in Shandong rather than in his fam ily’s native district to avoid the awkwardness that placing a m onum ent there might have occasioned.79Yu Shuting

argues also that the remoteness of the site where the moya inscription was placed, in an area where people knew little about the Zheng family, made possible a revision of Zheng X i, s posthumous title conferred by Emperor Xiaowen. Overturning the advice of scholars in the Secretariat who had suggested that Zheng Xi be honored

with the title xuan, or “vast,” the emperor had chosen the name Wenling, explaining that although Zheng Xi was erudite and thus merited the title wen, “cultured,” his lack of probity as an administrator was best expressed through the name ling, which the emperor explicated as meaning that Zheng “was not cautious in making a name for him self., , 80 Far from the capital, the word ling could be dropped from the stele text and replaced with the honorific

without too much worry that this change

would receive close scrutiny from anyone in a position to know, or to care, about the true nature of Zheng X i, s posthumous title or the failings it was intended to reflect. On Heavenly Colum n M ountain, all this was smoothed over in the grand cadences of the inscription. But it was not simply the remoteness of the location that made this an advantageous site:on the m ountain slope, Zheng Daozhao was able to place the m onum ent honoring his late father at a point where earthly and heavenly realms were auspiciously joined. Even now, when stone steps make the journey m uch easier and safer than it probably was in the early sixth century, reaching the Stele o f Zheng Wengong requires considerable effort. The trek upward is rewarded not only by the sight of the loom ­ ing monument but also by the spectacular view to the south, gained when one turns

from reading the inscription to look into the distance. Higher still, some fifty meters

above the stele, is a text ascribed to Zheng Daozhao titled Inscription for the Stone Chamber of the Eastern Promontory ofHeavenly Column Mountain (Tianzhushan dongkan shishi ming).81 The ten columns of writing are inside a natural chamber formed by an overhanging cliff and two walls of rock (fig. 2.13). In front of the chamber a terrace-like stone surface slopes sharply downward, and to fall from this place on the m ountain would mean certain death.82 But Zheng’s words leave no doubt that in his eyes reaching this site was worth the risk : The solitary peak rises in splendor, Its heights soaring to heaven and the stars. How truly it is called the “Heavenly Colum n,” Securing the city of Laicheng. Suspended cliffs of 10,000 m2, 83 Precipices rise to pavilions in the rosy clouds. They meet the sun and open to the moon, Whose essences flow in the dazzling light.84 Sunrise shines in the cliff chamber, Sunset glows on the fresh pines. A m id the ritual colors of the Nine Immortals, I use this site to rest my form. Dragons roam and phoenixes gather, Here to remain, here to rest. Profound and endless are these thoughts, Illum in ating like a candle the primordial void. The Way flows unimpeded, the hour is timely, The light of deeds shines in the darkness. A m id the cloudy gates and misty stones, Ascending to im m ortality! (2H)

Like his Poem on Climbing Azure Solarity Ridge at Great Platform Mountain, these tetrasyllable lines by Zheng Daozhao propel the reader’s im agination beyond the scenery of real m ountains into a fantastic realm populated by mythic beings and creatures. W ith in the history of medieval Chinese poetry, these verses belong to

the genre of youxxan shi, or “poems on roaming with immortals, , ,exemplified by poems by Cao Zhi (192-232) and Guo Pu (276-324). Poems of this type describe m ountain climbing and sightings of supernatural beings ;they shift between descrip­ tion of real scenery and purely im aginary vistas and are studded w ith allusions to

arcane philosophical principles known as xuanxue, “dark learning.’’85

Fig. 2 .1 3 . In s crip tio n fo r the Stone Chamber o f th e Eastern Prom ontory o f Heavenly Column M ountain ( T ia n z h u s h a n D o n g k a n s h is h i m in g ) . U n d a te d , c a . 511. S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 150 x 140 c m , a n d v ie w o f s it e . H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n t a in , P in g d u , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f L a i Fei.

tals hovering near m ountain peaks, the presentation of his texts was radically dif­ ferent:unlike a poem brushed on paper or silk, which can be read anywhere, a poem carved on a m ountain positions the reader at a particular location in space, and the connotations of the text are powerfully inflected by its placement. Zheng’s poem at Great Platform M ountain informs the reader that the place where he stands— where Zheng stood to inscribe the poem— is part of a landscape marked by carefully named altars where im m ortal beings were likely to be seen. This is also terrain in which Zheng and his friends once roamed. On Heavenly Column M ountain Zheng’s inscrip­ tion addresses a reader who has completed the arduous clim b to the Stone Chamber. Having gained access to the carved words, the reader finds him self at perilous but exhilarating “heights soaring to heaven and the stars.” It is there, where the act of

•— ___ _—_________ _

.______ _____ — —---- -—

reading takes place, that “dragons roam and phoenixes gather.” The chamber in w hich the w riting appears has significance of its own. It was w ith in the isolated spaces of huts and grottoes of this kind that medieval Daoists practiced meditation and visualization exercises. The earliest records of religious Daoism mention huts called “thatched chambers” (maoshi), “dark chambers” (xuanshi ), and “quiet rooms” (jingshi) built by members of the Celestial Masters sect.86 By

the fifth century, secluded chambers for meditation were essential to all schools of Daoism. Tao Hongjing, codifier of the Shangqing tradition, specified that a “meditation chamber may be a hut, a room of square shape, or a cottage in a dead end block. It should be located on a m ountain or beside a creek where no hum an beings are t£^ be fo un d ., , 87 Caves, grottoes, and niches discovered in landscape, especially on

It should be located on a m ountain or beside a creek where no hum an beings are to be found.”87 Caves, grottoes, and niches discovered in landscape, especially on mountains, could serve the same function as man-made structures and could be the sites of supernatural revelation, sometimes in the form of writing. It was in a

stone chamber on Mount Song that Bao fing saw the Scripture of the Three Thearchs (Sanhuangjing) magically inscribed on a wall. He copied the text on silk scrolls and presented them to his son-in-law, the great Daoist master Ge Hong (283_343).88 Whatever its physical form, a meditation chamber was a site for com m uning w ith

immortals. According to his biography in the Jin History (Jin shu), the Daoist Xu Mai built “a purification hut on X uanliu and traveled back and forth to a cave chamber on Mao range to cut off relations w ith affairs of the world and to seek the halls of the im m o rtals., , 89 The meditation chamber was a place of seclusion into which the adept escaped from the m undane world, a setting for “retreat and tranquility where the inner self could be confronted and developed., , 90 But it was from w ith in the chamber that the im agination soared outward into the void. Achieving these visionary flights was

an important goal of Daoist practice— a means of coming into contact with deities and places that located the adept w ith in a harmonious cosmic order. According to the “Superior Method to Send for the Void and Deeply Contemplate the Heavens” used in Shangqing Daoism, the adept visualizes in sequence “all the mountains, rivers, plants, animals, barbarians, and immortals of the four directions.” The reward for a successful visualization was a meeting w ith an im m ortal, who would descend to offer the adept a divine drink.91 Seated in a meditation chamber, the adept could

imagine also excursions to the sun, moon, or stars— the celestial regions amid which Zheng Daozhao positions himself, and the reader, in his inscription in the Stone Chamber on Heavenly Colum n M ountain. The goal of achieving union w ith heavenly beings, w hich the meditation chamber could help achieve, was nothing less than to join their ranks. This is the

quest Zheng Daozhao mentions at the very end of Poem on Climbing Azure Solarity Ridge: “Amid the cloudy gates and misty stones / Ascending leads to immortality!” The gates and stones must be those of the m ountain itself, w hich conducts the h um an seeker upward, literally and figuratively, toward im m ortality. Like the K unlun m ountain range, the mythic vertical axis of the world, where a “Heavenly C olum n” rose into the sky, the m ountain in Shandong was a stairway to the stars.92 Although any m ountain could be a potential meeting point of heaven and earth, the name “Heavenly Colum n” made explicit the relationship between the geological formation and analogous cosmological beliefs. A third inscription leads the reader’s eyes and, eventually, his feet beyond Heavenly C olum n M ountain. On the west side of the peak, an inscription reads:

The second mountain is dimly visible from the very point on Heavenly Column Mountain where the inscription appears. It is on Cloud Peak Mountain that carved texts create a radical transformation of real landscape into an imaginary terrain for the attainment of immortality; but this can be discovered only by going to the mountain.


Fig. 2 .1 4 .

Zheng D aozhao

o f X in g y a n g f i r s t r o a m e d a t H e a v e n ly C o lu m n a n d l a t e r r e s te d o n C lo u d P e a k ” {Xingyang Zheng Daozhao shangyou Tianzhu xia xi Yunfeng). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 76 x 70 c m . H e a v e n ly C o lu m n M o u n ­ t a i n , P in g d u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

CLOUD P E A K MOUNTAIN According to his son, it was Zheng Daozhao himself who coined the name “Cloud Peak Mountain” or, more literally, “Mountain of Cloud Peak” (Yunfeng zhi shan), which is inscribed on a columnar boulder on the summit. How Zheng arrived at this name is hard to surmise. At 305 meters above sea level, the mountain is some­ times obscured by clouds, though this is true also of other mountains nearby. Per­ haps it was the weirdly contoured boulders on the upper reaches of the mountain that suggested the shape of clouds and inspired the name Zheng chose. The name conjures up also the notion widely held in ancient China that clouds and mists emanate from mountains.93 Viewed from a distance, the mountain can be seen to consist of a central and two flanking peaks in a configuration that recalls the tri­ partite form of the character shan, “mountain” (see plate 4).94 The northern side of the mountain, on which most of the inscriptions were carved, faces the Bohai Gulf, and the coastline, seventeen kilometers away, is visible from the summit on clear days.95 Today, offices and exhibition galleries of the Cloud Peak Mountain Cultural Agency stand at the base of the mountain. About eighty meters above these build­ ings is an inscription identified by a title heading as the Stele ofZheng Wengong (Zheng Wengong bei). Most of the text is identical to that of the inscription on Heavenly Column Mountain honoring Zheng Xi. In Chinese and Japanese scholarship, the monument carved first on Heavenly Column Mountain is called the Former Stele (Shang bei) and its twin on Cloud Peak Mountain is called the Latter Stele (Xia. bei). I will to refer to the first inscription as the Stele ofZheng Wengong and the second as the Latter Stele. The Latter Stele covers an area of 2.65 x 3.67 meters on a massive granite outcrop and is topped by a title heading framed by an incised border of 39 x 28 centimeters (fig.

2.15). The extremely hard granite surface, which was lightly

smoothed before the characters were carved, is divided by a crack running from the upper right to the lower left, and the calligrapher adjusted the columns of writing to avoid the fissure.96 Rather than considering this a defect, however, Zheng Dao­ zhao, assuming it was he who selected the site, felt that the stone was even better than that of Zheng Xi’s “stele” on Heavenly Column Mountain. This is explained in a postface carved after the main body of the text: In the fourth year of the Yongping reign (511), the year xinmao, the former stele was carved forty li due south, on the southern side of Heavenly Column Mountain. This is the latter stele. It was carved here because the stone is good. (2I)


■9 Fig. 2 .1 5 . L a tte r Stele ( o f Zheng ^Jengong) (X ia b e i) . 511 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , 265 x 3 6 7 c m . C lo u d P e a k M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f L a i Fei.

that amplify the record of Zheng Xi’s career.97The longest of these passages concerns the journey that Zheng Xi made to Chang’an to conduct a ritual at a temple dedicated to the father of the empress dowager and to erect a stele in his honor一 a mission that won him promotion to the office of palace steward. The expanded text also includes information that makes its content even more like an epitaph than that of the earlier version of the inscription :we learn not only where Zheng Xi was buried, southeast of Xingyang, but also when, on the twenty-fourth day of the fourth month of the seventeenth year of the Taihe era (493). Beyond the essential similarity of the

southeast of Xingyang, but also when, on the twenty-fourth day of the fourth month of the seventeenth year of the Taihe era (493). Beyond the essential similarity of the two texts, which employ conventions of contemporary mortuary inscriptions, their relative positions on the two mountains also are similar. Although the stele on Heavenly Column Mountain is higher in elevation in relation to the height of the entire mountain on which it stands, neither it nor the Latter Stele were carved on the summits, normally the most privileged position within what might be called the topographical semiotics of mountains. On both peaks, the highest elevations were reserved for very different kinds of texts (fig. 2.16).

Th e S t o n e P o e m s : R e a l a n d I m a g i n a r y G e o g r a p h y Thirty meters above the Latter Stele is a massive natural stone platform on which are traces of a building, including holes for columns, a threshold, and the foundation of a wall. Fragments of roof tiles believed to date from the Northern Dynasties that were discovered nearby have led Chinese scholars to conclude that this was the site of Zheng Daozhao’s Hall of White Clouds.98 If the structure that once stood here was built by Zheng, it proved to be a far more ephemeral mark of his presence than the inscriptions he left on the mountain. Carved on boulders nearby are two poems, still almost fully legible, that are labeled as the compositions of Zheng Daozhao. In the record of returning to the mountain written about Zheng’s son, these are called the “stone poems” (shishi).99 The first stone poem appears on a boulder 5.22 meters high and 6.66 meters across (fig. 2.17). Tilted at a slight angle owing to a shift in the soil under its left side, the boulder is inscribed with twenty columns totaling 324 characters. The inscrip­ tion opens with a long title:“Pentasyllabic poem on the occasion of coming out with ten Daoists and laymen from Laicheng to this site, nine li to the southeast, ascend­ ing Cloud Peak Mountain, and discussing the classics.” There follows a string of official titles and the words “composed by Zheng Daozhao.” Inscribed after the text of the poem is a date corresponding to the year 511.100 The loosely structured standard script calligraphy of the inscription, known in Chinese scholarship as Poem on Discussing the Classics (Lun jingshu shi), resembles that of Poem on Climbing Azure Solarity Ridge on Great Platform Mountain and Inscrip­ tion for the Stone Chamber on Heavenly Column Mountain (fig. 2.18). All three texts state that Zheng Daozhao himself was the author, but it is impossible to know if he was also the calligrapher. At least two hands are discernible in Poem on Discussing the Classics, suggesting that Zheng may have employed a “ghost calligrapher” to help write the texts on stone. Nevertheless, in the most thorough study of the different

Fig. 2 .1 6 . L o c a t io n s o f in s c r ip t io n s o n C lo u d P e a k M o u n t a in , L a iz h o u , S h a n d o n g . D r a w in g a f t e r YFKS, 2. C o u r te s y o f P ila r P e te r s . (1 ) L a tte r Stele (o f Zheng ㈧engong) ( Z h e n g W e n g o n g x ia b e i) . 5 11 . (2 ) Poem on Discussing th e Classics (L u n jin g s h u s h i) . 511. ( 3 ) Singing o f the Chamber o f the Flying Im m o rta l ( y o n g f e i x ia n s h i) . U n d a te d , c a . 511 . (4 ) Poem on Viewing Sea Elves (G u a n h a it o n g s h i) . U n d a te d , c a . 511 . (5 ) aT h e m o u n t a in g a t e o f Z h e n g D a o z h a o o f X in g y a n g ” {Xing­ y a n g Zheng Daozhao zhi shan men y e ). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . (6 ) uT h e s to n e s e a t f a c i n g th e g a t e o f t h e H o n o r a b le Z h e n g , ,(Zhenggong zhi suo dang men shi zuoye). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . ( 7 ) Record o f Again Ascending Cloud Peak M ountain (C h o n g d e n g y u n f e n g s h a n j i ) . 5 6 4 . (8 ) uT h is is t h e L e f t T o w e r o f C lo u d P e a k M o u n t a in ” (yunfengsha n zhi zuo que y e ). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . (9 ) **This is th e R ig h t T o w e r o f C lo u d P e a k M o u n t a in ” (^Yunfengshan z h iy o u q u e y e ) . U n d a te d , c a . 511. (1 0 ) **0n t h i s m o u n t a in a r e t h e n a m e s o f n in e im m o r t a l s ” (Ci shan sh angyou ji u xian zhi m ing). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . (1 1 ) uM a s te r A n q i p ilo t s a d r a g o n a n d r e s ts o n M t. P e n g la i” (A nqizi ji a long qi Penglai zhi shan) a n d ''W a n g Z ijin p ilo t s a p h o e n ix a n d r e s ts o n M t. T a is h i” (yjang Z ijin ji a feng q i Taishi zhi shan). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . ( 1 2 ) ^ M a s te r R e d P in e p ilo t s t h e m o o n a n d r e s ts o n M t. X u a n p u ” {Chisongzi jia y u e q i Xuanpu zhi shan) a n d " M a s t e r F u q iu p il o t s a g o o s e a n d r e s ts o n M t. y u e g u i” (F u q iu z ijia hong qi Yuegui zhi shan). U n d a te d , c a . 511 . ( 1 3 ) ''M a s t e r X ia n m e n p ilo t s t h e s u n a n d r e s ts o n M t. K u n lu n ” (Xianm enzi j ia ri qi Kunlun zhi shan). U n d a te d , c a . 511. (1 4 ) , l L ie zi rid e s t h e w in d a n d r e s ts o n M t. H u a ” (L /e z / cheng feng qi Hua zhi shan). U n d a te d , c a . 511. (1 5 ) l

, t “. w . 产


* -

■ 、 V: ‘泰 、 r

☆ ■


-v -- •

S^V'-' -■ 為. 、




Fig. 3 .3 . H u a n g y i (1 7 4 4 —1 8 0 1 ) , ''M t . T ie ,” f r o m V isiting Steles a t the Foot o f M t. Tai ( D a ilu f a n g b e i t u ) . 1797. A lb u m le a f, in k o n p a p e r, 17.4 c m h ig h . P a la c e M u s e u m , B e ijin g .

actual size, in columns over thirty meters long, be displayed for careful study? This is a question pondered by the epigrapher Ye Changchi (1849-1917) in an amusing passage from his Talks on Stones (Yushi) about rubbings of sutras from Mt. Tie and other mountains in Zou County: I have seen rubbings [of them] in two bundles as tall as a man. If they are not put out on a long mat with two people to assist in unrolling them, there is no way to read them. As to mounting them, one can only [cut them up] in accordion-style mounting and put two characters on one page. As to storing them, a small room w ill not contain them. Rub­ bings of them are worth thirty cash, but the cost of mounting them, even in the simplest fashion, will be more than several hundred cash. Handling them for a whole month, one would not necessarily be able to go from beginning to end, and the characters also cannot be explained fully. After silently looking for a long time, one respectfully confesses to being not very bright. The way that extremely big things find no place in the world— — it is like these sutras!7(3B) Like the gigantic but useless trees described in the Zhuangzi, to which Ye Changchi alludes, huge rubbings of carved sutras “found no place in the world,” at least no place where their display could approximate the experience of reading the monu­ mental texts in situ. In Shandong today, rubbings of sutras from Mt. Tie and from other sites are displayed from time to time in large exhibition halls, but even in these venues it is impossible to put complete sets of them on view (fig. 3.4). It is not only big rubbings that are difficult to read:a visitor to the mountain discovers that the text carved on Mt. Tie cannot be read from any single position in space, no matter where one stands. Not only is there no location from which all the columns of characters are legible, but in order to actually follow the content of the text, a reader must begin at the top of the steep incline, which inconvenienced Huang Y i, s rubbing making, move downward, arrive at the foot of the slope, and then head back up to begin the next column of the text. While it is possible for anyone with the requisite patience and stamina to read a text of hundreds of characters in this way, ease of access to the carved words cannot have been the primary concern of those who planned and executed the inscription. Shorter sutra passages carved on vertical cliffs and boulders in Shandong can be read more easily, but the placement of these inscriptions, often at sites reachable only after an exhausting climb, create other difficulties for would-be readers. Like all sutra transcriptions, the carved texts on the mountains of Shandong contributed to the preservation of Buddhist teachings and earned karmic merit for

Fig. 3 .4 . D is p la y o f r u b b in g s . S h a n d o n g S to n e C a rv in g A r t M u s e u m , J i ,n a n . P h o to : A u th o r .

the donors and calligraphers who produced them. At the same time, owing to the belief that the words of the Buddha were embodiments of his presence, the carved sutras, like Buddhist scriptures in any format or medium, were artifacts worthy of veneration. What the monumental transcriptions challenge us to understand is how the remarkable visual presentation of these texts shaped the way they were perceived by viewers in the sixth century. This chapter seeks to address this ques­ tion by focusing on Mt. Tie. Not only is this the site of a relatively well preserved sutra text of more than nine hundred characters, but the Stone Eulogy carved next to it offers unique insights into the beliefs and practices of sixth-century Buddhists in this area of China. In particular, the Stone Eulogy helps us to understand how the value of the sutra text spread across the surface of the mountain was believed to depend on its location in space, on the excellence of the calligraphy in which it was transcribed, and, most significantly, on its colossal format, which dwarfed the bod­ ies of human readers who journeyed to the inscribed mountain.

T S X T S A N D D O N O R S IN ZO U C O U N T Y A N D B E Y O N D Zou County occupies a place of honor in the cultural geography of China as the birthplace of the philosopher Mencius. A temple dedicated to his memory is the most important building in the county seat, the city of Zoucheng. Mt. Tie lies in the northern section of the city and has been incorporated into a public park. Connected to a range of low hills running from east to west, the mountain was known originally as Southern Mt. Gang;about one kilo­ meter away, Northern Mt. Gang is also the site of sixth-century Buddhist inscriptions.8The name Mt. Tie came into use during the eighteenth century and alludes to the Daoist immortal Li Tieguai. A rounded depression still visible on the mountain is said to be the immortal’s footprint.9 The slope of Mt. Tie is enclosed by a fence built in mod­ ern times and by narrow steps cut directly into the rock. W ith in this fenced area, which covers some 1,085 square meters, are three texts:a long sutra passage, the Stone Eulogy carved directly adjacent to the final column of the sutra, and a list of names known as the Inscribed Record (Tiji) carved below (fig. 3.5). The principal text is a passage from the Great Collection Sutra (Daji jing), identified by three faintly visible characters at the top of the slope and by a statement in the Stone Eulogy. The transcription originally consisted of 946 characters (only about 800 are still visible) written in a synthesis of clerical and standard script.10 Aligned in seventeen columns of unequal length, the characters range in size from forty to sixty centi­ meters in height. Between columns 8 and 9 is an empty space, or “aisle, ” running the full height of the sutra transcription. The longest column is 33.60 meters from north to south. Traces


Inscribed Record

of an incised grid into which the characters were fitted are still visible, especially in the lower part of the sutra carving. The Great Collection Sutra was translated into Chinese by Dharmaksema (385-433) between the years 421 and 426; an

Fig. 3 .5 . D ia g r a m s h o w in g p o s it io n s o f t e x t s o n M t. T ie ,

additional section known independently as the Candragarbha

a f t e r a d r a w in g b y L a i Fei a n d

Sutra (Yuezang fen) was translated by the Indian monk

H u X in li. C o u r te s y o f P ila r

Narendrayasas (516-589) in 566 and added to the sutra in 586

P e te r s . N o te t h a t a lt h o u g h a ll o f t h e in s c r ip t io n s o n M t.

to form the present text in sixty chapters.11As the title “Great

T ie r u n f r o m n o r t h t o s o u t h ,

Collection” suggests, the sutra is a composite of shorter texts

n o n e a r e p e r f e c t l y a lig n e d

rather than a continuous discourse. What unifies the seventeen

w it h m a g n e t ic n o r t h .

sections of the sutra, which the Buddha is said to have preached to assembled bodhisattvas and divinities of the ten directions, are recurring discussions of the state of perfect wisdom known as the bodhi mind, the vows of bodhisattvas to aid all sentient beings, and the six paramitas— practices and virtues that lead to the attainment ofBuddhahood. The sutra also includes esoteric vows and


tations for subduing evil and warding off disasters.12 The Stone Eubgy identifies the carved passage as an excerpt from the “Penetration of Bodhi” (Chuanputi) section of the sutra;in the current version of the text, however, this section is known as the “Sea of Wisdom Bodhisattva” (Haihui pusa).13 Structured as a series of definitions of the bodhi mind (pud xin) explained by Sakyamuni, the passage on Mt. Tie guides the reader through a sequence of increasingly abstract principles culminating in a string of negations and double negations: Further, that which is formless is called the form of non-rebirth. The form of the formless is called the form of non-extinction. Non-rebirth and non-extinction are called the formless form. If one sees non-rebirth, non-extinction, non-abiding, non-unity, non-duality, non-wrath, non­ striving, and non-existence, and if, not moving and not retreating, one nows the dharma nature, this is called true nature, this is called real

nature, this is called dharma nature.14 (3C) The inscribed sutra passage concludes by announcing that at the time these defini­ tions were preached by Sakyamuni, twelve nayuta of sentient beings (a figure that could mean 1.2 million or 1.2 billion) manifested perfect enlightenment, and sixteen thousand princes achieved the pdramitd of patient endurance attained through grasp­ ing the dharma of non-rebirth.15 The Inscribed Record appears on a granite outcrop 9.9 meters below the final columns of the sutra excerpt. The first twenty-one characters were destroyed in i960 but are preserved in epigraphical records and old rubbings. The remaining inscrip­ tion fills an area of 3.25 x 3.40 meters and consists of characters ranging from nine­ teen to thirty centimeters high (fig. 3.6).16The reconstructed text reads: Rencheng Gommandery Labor Section of the Qi, Pingyang County Labor Section of the Zhou, Chief Overseer Li Juao of Zhao Commandery. General of Ningshuo, Area Commander in Chief, Governor of RenchengGommandery, sutra supervisor Sun Yu. Seng’an Daoyi of Dongling, • transcriber of the sutra. Recommender of Worthy Men of the Qi, General ofPingyue of the Zhou, Assistant Magistrate of Rencheng Commandery, Chief Overseer Lii Changsong.17 (3D)

Fig. 3 .6 . Inscribed Record. U n d a te d ( c a . 5 7 9 ). In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r i p t i o n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 25 c m h ig h . F ro m M t. T ie , Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g S to n e C a r v in g A r t M u s e u m , J i ,n a n . P h o t o :A u th o r .

The three laymen named in the inscription held office under both the Northern Qi and the Northern Zhou in Rencheng Commandery, an administrative unit that encompassed Zou County during the sixth century.18 One man, Sun Yu, is identified as supervisor, or jingzhu, but he and the two other officials appear to have been mem­ bers of a Buddhist lay society, known as an yi or yiyi, that collectively donated funds for the sutra.19 This organization is mentioned in the Stone Eulogy. That Li Juao and Lu Changsong held the title of chief overseer (da duweina), an administrative post within lay societies of the Northern Dynasties, also points to the role of such an organization in producing the transcription. The most intriguing information in the inscription is the name of the calligrapher, Seng, an Daoyi of Dongling, enclosed within incised vertical and horizontal borders. The text of the Stone Eulog];is carved less than a meter to the west of the sutra passage (to the left of a reader standing at the base of the mountain) and covers an area of 12.4 x 3.7 meters (fig. 3.7). It consists of 616 characters, each roughly twentytwo centimeters high, arranged in twelve columns. The title by which the text is known comes from the two seal script characters that confused Huang Yi, both approximately seventy-five centimeters high, carved above the Stone Eulogy.20 Like

Fig. 3.7. C h a r a c te r s f r o m t h e Stone Eulogy. 579 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 2 0 —22 c m h ig h . M t. T ie , Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

the Inscribed Record, the Stone Eulogy preserves information about the donors and the calligrapher of the sutra, but it is a far more ambitious piece of writing, over half as long as the sutra passage itself. The text consists of an introduction in ornate prose followed by a eulogy, or song, in rhymed, four-character lines. The content of the Stone Eulo砂 is similar to that of colophons frequently appended to transcriptions of Buddhist scriptures that name donors and calligraphers or enumerate the bless­ ings that donors hoped to receive for their meritorious acts.21The length of the text and the literary complexity of the Stone Eulogy however, make it similar to zaoxiangji, or “records of making images.” In hundreds of surviving and recorded examples of these texts from the fifth and sixth centuries, in rock-cut cave chapels and on free­ standing images of stone or bronze, donors express their hopes for blessings for the state and the emperor as well as for rebirth for themselves and their families in the Tusita Heaven of Maitreya or the Pure Land of Amitabha.22 The dedications also record hopes for material benefits, long life, or good health. In the case of the Stone Eulogy, the donors do not claim to expect any particular blessings, but they do express their desire to transmit and preserve the sutra text in a spectacular form.

The author of the Stone Eulogy is not named, but he must have been someone asked by the donors to compose the text on their behalf, a practice for which prec­ edents can be found among inscriptions at the Longmen cave chapels.23Rhetorically, this allows the author to praise the donors in terms that would have been unseemly for them to use in describing themselves: The Buddhist disciple Kuang Zhe, with his younger brothers Xian, [missing graph], Zu, and Zhen, are descendants of the Han prime m in ­ ister [Kuang Heng (fl. 48-32 b . c . e .)]. Their excellent virtue comes from

Heaven, and their distinguished bearing makes them stand out. They understand that the cardinal principles await completion and observe that the earth’s foundation has been toppled. They sigh [missing graph] over the fluctuations of the sea and lament the collapse of great moun­ tains. Therefore, they have embraced the desire to renounce the bemired path and collect into themselves [missing graph] the pure embodiment (of Buddhist law).24 Thus, with men sharing the same ideas, Li Tao, Tang [two miss­ ing graphs], and others, they can be called the willow and catalpa of their lineages, the fragrant orchids of their families, who all [missing •

graph] leap like soaring dragons and rise up like dashing phoenixes. Moreover, leading members of a lay society, they have aspired to rely on high Heaven’s reservoir of grace and jointly cross the limitless ford, to dedicate their wealth to the dharma court and to spread eternally efficacious treasures.25 Accordingly, they have cut into their family resources, casting them aside like frost-stricken leaves. The seven­ teenth, a bingzi day, of the eighth month, of which the first day was gengshen, when the year star was in the Dayuanxian, in the first year of the Daxiang reign of the August Zhou (September 23,S79)-26 (3E)

According to the Stone Eulogy the sutra donors were Kuang Zhe, his younger brothers, and several other men “sharing the same ideas.” Additional donors who collectively sponsored the carving were members of a lay society, presumably the same one to which the two chief overseers cited in the Inscribed Record belonged, though the Stone Eulogy says nothing about these men. Scholars have proposed that Kuang Zhe and the other donors mentioned in the Stone Eulogy were the true financial backers of the sutra carving and enlisted the support of the three officials named in the Inscribed Recordto ensure that the project would proceed smoothly at a time when an imperial proscription of Buddhism had just ended. Such theories remain speculative, and unless new sources turn up, the relationship between the two groups of donors probably will remain a mystery.

Although the donors of the Mt. Tie sutra had the distinction of sponsoring one of the largest carved texts ever seen in China, they were not innovators. The practice of carving sutras and names of deities on natural stone surfaces had begun several decades earlier in Henan and Hebei and, slightly later, in Shandong. Before this time, as early as the fifth century, passages from sutras had been carved on miniature stone stupas and on Buddhist icons.27The idea of carving lengthy excerpts or complete texts of sutras, unknown in India and Central Asia, may have originated with the monk Sengchou (481-560). According to an inscription on the facade of the central cave at Xiaonanhai, near Anyang in Henan, Sengchou had expressed his desire “to have the golden words [of the Buddha] carved and recorded [there], so their glory would endure into later ages., , 28His wishes were not carried out until after his death in 560, when his followers had carved on the facade and walls of the Xiaonan­ hai Cave passages from the Great Nirvana Sutra (Daban niepan jing) and verses in praise of the Flower Garland Sutra (Huayanjing). Sengchou’s goal of having Buddhist sutras carved on stone may have been inspired by his knowledge of the celebrated Stone Classics from the Han and Wei dynasties.29The history of these transcriptions of Confucian texts, however, was not an encouraging example of the durability of stone carvings.30In 546 the stones were moved from Luoyang, where they had been carved, to the city of Ye in modern Hebei, capital of the Eastern Wei dynasty— a transfer that resulted in the loss of more than half of the texts. The medium of stone may have conferred prestige, but it did not always confer imperishability. At the Northern and Southern Xiangtangshan Caves, located near Ye, which had become the Northern Qi capital, members of the imperial family and other elite donors sponsored the excavation of cave chapels, the carving of icons, and the tran­ scription of Buddhist sutras on stone (fig. 3.8).31These appear on carefully polished limestone surfaces of the cave facades and interiors. According to an inscription at the Northern Xiangtangshan Caves known as the Stele ofTang Yong (fl. ca. 560-572), written in the voice of this high-ranking official and grandee, the sutras were carved between the years 568 and 572. At Mt. Zhonghuang in southwestern Hebei, sutras believed to have been carved during the Northern Qi appear both inside caves and as moya inscriptions on cliffs. An inscribed dedication by Lady Zhao, the wife of Tang Yong, links the patronage of this site to that of the Xiangtangshan Caves. During the same decades that work was in progress at cave chapels in Henan and Hebei, sutra passages began to spread across the surfaces of mountains in Shan­ dong.32The inscriptions in Shandong differed significantly, however, from those in the area of the Northern Qi capital. Major donors of inscriptions at the cave chapels were Northern Qi rulers or officials closely tied to the court;although some of these aristocratic donors also contributed to the carving of sutras in Shandong, most inscriptions there were sponsored by prominent local families, monks, and nuns.

Fig. 3 .8 . C a rv e d s u t r a s a t t h e N o r t h e r n X ia n g ta n g s h a n c a v e c h a p e ls . C a. 5 6 8 —5 7 2 . H a n d a n M u n ic ip a lit y , H e b e i. P h o to : A u th o r .

Aside from a few examples, which may in fact postdate the Northern Qi, the inscrip­ tions in Shandong were not at the sites of rock-cut cave chapels housing Buddhist icons but in open landscape, though some were in the vicinity of Buddhist temples.33 Rather than smoothed limestone, as at Xiangtangshan and Mt. Zhonghuang, the stone on which most writing was carved in Shandong was rough granite, usually left untreated before being carved. At only one major site, Mt. Hongding, in Dongping County, were large inscriptions in Shandong carved on limestone, though here as well the stone was not polished in advance to receive the writing. The inscriptions in Henan and Hebei are on vertical cave facades, walls, and cliffs;in Shandong, inscriptions appear on cliffs and upright boulders but also on granite slopes on which it is possible to walk to read the carved texts. W hile the sutra inscriptions on vertical surfaces in Shandong generally are shorter than those at cave chapels in central China, the slopes of Mt. Tie, Mt. Ge, and Mt. Tai bear long inscriptions, extending in the case of the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai to nearly three thousand characters in length.34Most notable of all, the characters of the Shandong carvings are larger, in some cases much larger, than writing of any kind found in other parts of China. Scriptural studies were an important facet of Buddhism under the Northern Qi, when learned monks congregated in the capital city at the invitation of the imperial court.35 The question of why the scriptures carved in Shandong were the ones chosen from among the vast body of Buddhist texts known during the sixth century is difficult to answer. The majority come from the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) system of Mahayana sutras that focus on the doctrine of vacuity (Sunyata). These sutras teach that all dharmas, which exist only through dependence on something else, have no nature of their own and are merely impermanent phan­ toms that delude the unenlightened mind. “If the separate dharmas were void or nonexistent,” Kenneth Chen has written, “then there was no individual to realize or obtain anything, nor was there any entity to be obtained.”36 To grasp this truth was to attain prajna (wisdom). Study of these complex doctrines had long been an important part of Buddhist intellectual life in Shandong, extending back to the early fifth century, when Shandong was controlled by the Liu-Song dynasty, one of the short-lived southern kingdoms under which prajfid studies flourished.37Accord­ ing to Zhang Zong, the sutra excerpts favored by sixth-century donors in Shandong functioned as dictionaries of prajna concepts in the form of questions and answers. Some passages reappear at multiple locations. One such passage, from the Manjusri Sutra (Wenshu shili suoshuo banruo boluomi jing), was repeated at no fewer than ten sites, appearing twice on Mt. Yi in two different formats.38 Inscribed sutra passages, names of deities, and related texts dating from between roughly 561 and 580 appear at about thirty sites in Shandong.39 Some con­

sist of only a few characters. In terms of their shared format, scale, textual content, and calligraphic style, the following eight sites are most closely linked to Mt. Tie. Mount Hongding. In 1994 a group of inscribed sutra passages, names of deities, and statements by or about two Buddhist monks came to light on the limestone cliffs of Mt. Hongding, in Dongping County, approximately sixty kilometers west of Mt. Tai (fig. 3.9). In the annals of recent archaeological work in Shandong, this discovery must rank in importance with the excavation in 1996 of a huge cache of Buddhist icons at the former site of Longxing Temple in Qingzhou.40 The cliffs at Mt. Hongding form a horseshoe-shaped valley where a Buddhist temple, apparently dating from the Northern Wei period, once stood.41On the north­ ern cliff are passages from the Manjusri Sutra, Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (Mohe banruo boluomi jing), and Great Collection Sutra, from which the text on Mt. Tie also was taken. In addition to these sutra passages, twenty-two names of Buddhist deities are emblazoned on the northern cliff. The largest of these names, “Great Vacuity King Buddha” (Da kong wang Fo), rises 9.3 meters and probably deserves to be recognized as the largest piece of writing produced in China up to the sixth century, perhaps one of the largest in the world (plate 9).42 According to an adjacent inscription in smaller characters, the colossal writing was carved 1,626 years after the death of the Buddha— a date that has been shown to correspond to the year 564.43The inscription states that the calligrapher was Seng’an Daoyi and includes the words “transcribed sutras” (shujing), which must refer to passages of scripture at Mt. Hongding that also were his work. Several other inscriptions naming Seng’an Daoyi, to which we will return later, and the Indian monk Fahong remain on the cliffs at Mt. Hongding.44 Mount Yi. Long before B u d d h is m entered China, this mountain twelve kilo­ meters southeast of Zoucheng had been the site of one of the stone inscriptions erected by the First Emperor of Qin during his eastern inspection tours.45 The Qin text disappeared many centuries ago, but more than 400 moya inscriptions from later periods remain on the mountain. Near the summit, called Five Blossoms Peak (Wuhuafeng), a passage from the Manjusri Sutra also seen at Mt. Hongding covers a surface of 2.13 x 3.65 meters on a large boulder. A date corresponding to 564 and the names of several donors who have yet to be positively identified are carved on the side of the stone.46Farther down the mountain, on a boulder outside the Yaojing Cave, the sutra passage appears again, reconfigured in a vertical format covering a surface of 3.8 x 2.6 meters (fig. 3.10).47Based on stylistic evidence, both sutra passages on Mt. Yi appear to have been written by Seng’an Daoyi. Mount Culai. This mountain lies forty kilometers southeast of Mt. Tai, near the city of Xintai (fig. 3.11). Here, inscriptions appear at two sites and in two differ­ ent formats. On a large boulder in a grove near the former site of the Guanghua Temple, established during the Northern Wei period, are passages from the Great

Perfection of Wisdom Sutra and the names of several deities, including Great Vacuity King Buddha. The boulder also bears a date corresponding to 570 and displays the inscribed names of several donors, among them Wang Zichun, the prefect ofLiangfu County, in which the mountain was located. On the summit of Mt. Culai, reachable after an arduous climb up rough terrain where herds of goats now graze, the same passage from the Mafijusri Sutra carved twice at Mt. Hongding and twice at Mt. Yi appears on a wall of granite called Shining Buddha Cliff (Yingfoyan) (plate 10). A reader standing in front of the inscription can turn from the text to take in a sweep­ ing view of the surrounding landscape.48 Mount Shuiniu. The southern face of this mountain, on the boundary between Wenshang and Ningyang counties, has been shorn away by explosives for use as building material. Along a narrow path on the top of the mountain remains a carved passage from the ManjusrJ Sutra. Next to the inscription, which covers an area of 2.6 x 1.95 meters, is a small meditation chamber carved into the granite cliff face (fig. 3.12). This structure is completely unornamented and may date from consid­ erably later than the sutra passage. Although the names of the patrons and date of the inscription are no longer legible, the choice of this sutra passage, the format of the writing, and the calligraphic style all point to a date not far removed from that of the inscriptions at Mt. Hongding, Mt. Yi, and Mt. Culai. Now preserved in a museum in Wenshang, a stele also carved with a passage from the Manjusri Sutra once stood on the mountain (see fig. 3.21). An inscription on the side of this monu­ ment names as its donors members of the Yang family from Mt. Tai and monks from the nearby Baishi Temple.49 Mount Jian. Carved here, 7.5 kilometers east of Zoucheng, on a stone slope and on an adjacent boulder, were passages from the Manjusn Sutra, Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, and the name “Great Vacuity King Buddha” in characters 1.75 meters high. Unfortunately, these and other inscriptions at the site were destroyed in i960 when a quarry was opened. An inscription dated 575 and preserved in rubbings names members of the Wei family of Zou County as the donors. Like the Kuang family, the Wei traced their ancestry to an illustrious figure of the Han dynasty, Wei Xian (148-60 b.c.e.). Other donors included the wife of Tang Yong, Lady Zhao, who was also a donor of sutra carvings at Mt. Zhonghuang in Hebei. Most interest­ ing of all is the appearance of the name of Seng’an Daoyi as a sutra donor. Although he is not specifically named as the calligrapher, the writing at Mt. Jian was so similar to that still visible on Mt. Tie that almost all scholars believe that the monk was the calligrapher for both sites. Mount Ge. Here, fifteen kilometers east of Zoucheng, on a granite slope facing west, are more than 200 characters from chapter 12 of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra (Weimojie jing), “On Seeing the Buddha AksobhyaM(fig. 3.13). The configuration of

Fig. 3 .1 2 . P a s s a g e f r o m t h e ManjusrT Sutra. U n d a te d , c a . 5 7 0 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 2 6 0 x 195 c m . M t. S h u in iu , W e n s h a n g , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :ZGSF, 1 2 :f r o n t m a t t e r .

Fig. 3 .1 3 . P a s s a g e f r o m t h e Vim alakTrti Nirdesa Sutra. 5 8 0 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 50 c m h ig h . M t. Ge, Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :A u th o r .

the slope on which the characters were carved, though less steep, is much like that of Mt. Tie, and there is an “aisle,” or empty column, dividing the text into two halves, which together cover an area of 21 x 8.5 meters. The identity of the donors is unknown, and only traces of a date corresponding to 580 remain visible. As at Mt. Jian, the style of the calligraphy leads most scholars to attribute the sutra transcrip­ tion on Mt. Ge to Seng, an Daoyi. Mount Tai. Looming over the fertile central plain of Shandong, Mt. Tai, like Mt. Yi, was the site of a stone inscription that was carved at the command of the First Emperor of Qin and that occupied a near-mythic place in the history of writing on stone in China. In addition to being the site of the i m p e r i a l a n d shan sacri­ fices, Mt. Tai was also the epicenter of Buddhism in eastern China. Beginning with the founding of Shentong Temple northwest of Mt. Tai in 351, Buddhist institutions ringed its slopes during the Northern Dynasties.50 The most enduring trace of Mt. Tai, s central role in the history of Buddhism is a site called Sutra Valley (Jingshi yu), easy to reach in less than an hour of climbing from the base of the mountain. There, a transcription of the first fifteen sections of the Diamond Sutra (fingang banruo boluomi jing) covers an area of more than 2,064 square meters on the surface of a

granite streambed, over which water still trickles down (see frontispiece). The transcription originally consisted of 2,799 characters, each approximately fifty centimeters high and arranged in forty-four columns separated by incised lines. “Aisles” separate every nine or ten columns, inviting readers to move up and down the surface of the mountain to follow the text of the sutra without stepping on the sacred words. Natural erosion and damage from the tread of visitors walking on the granite surface or making rubbings have effaced many of the characters, and only around 1,069 are still visible today. The Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai is not only the largest of all the carved sutras in Shandong but also the most mysterious. In spite of the great size of the transcription, no accompanying dedication or historical text records its date or the identity of the donors. There is little doubt, however, that the sutra was carved close in time to the other monumental sutras in Shandong, and many scholars believe that the calligra­ phy, which closely resembles that on Mt. Tie, was also the work of Seng’an Daoyi. Whoever the donors and the calligrapher, they were unable to complete the project of carving the sutra passage. From column 33 onward, carvers outlined the silhouettes of characters but never finished the work of excavating the interiors of the strokes. To this day the completed characters and those that were only outlined are kept vividly legible by the application of red pigment, refreshed about every five years.51 Mount Gang. This mountain, known also as “Northern Mt. Gang,” lies one kilometer north of Mt. Tie. It differs from other sites of Buddhist inscriptions carved in Shandong in displaying passages from a sutra, not on a single boulder or slope, but on nearly thirty separate stones (fig. 3.14). The placement of the text, the Lankavatara Sutra (Rulengqie jing), inscribed in characters ranging from fifteen to forty centime­ ters high, demands that a visitor climb the mountain, moving from stone to stone.52 Higher up on Mt. Gang, a passage from the Sutra on Visualization ofthe B u d d h a ofInfinite Life (Guan wuliangshoufo jing) appears on a towering boulder called “Chicken Beak Stone” (Jizui shi) (plate 11). Also carved on the boulder are the names of several donors, including the nun Fahui, and a date corresponding to the year 580.53

P R O S P E R IT Y AND P ER SE C U TIO N Weathered by the centuries, the monumental sutras carved on Mt. Tie and on other mountains in Shandong are enduring emblems of what Erik Ziircher termed “the Buddhist conquest of China., ’54The florescence of Buddhism in northern China dur­ ing the period when work on the sutras began owed much to the rulers of the North­ ern Qi dynasty, who were ardent sponsors of cave chapels, images, and scriptural studies. The degree of imperial fervor for Buddhism can be judged from a project

sponsored by the Northern Qi ruler Houzhu (r. 565-576) at a mountain west of his secondary capital, Jinyang, in Shanxi Province. According to the dynastic history, “[He] made a colossal Buddha image. All night long he would have a myriad oil lamps burning, so that the light illumined the palace interior___The utmost skill and cunning [were] reached. What with transporting stone and digging for springs, the expense mounted into the millions, and the number of men and oxen who died was beyond all reckoning.”55 During the period that work was in progress at this site, some two million monks and nuns— 10 percent of the total Northern Qi population of twenty m illio n w e r e said to have filled 30,000 temples and monasteries.56 As elsewhere in the Northern Qi domains, Buddhism flourished in Shandong. This is evident not only from historical sources and the carved sutras themselves but also from the astonishing discoveries at Qingzhou. Among the more than four hundred Buddhist images found there in 1996 were scores datable on the basis of their

Fig. 3 .1 4 . P a s s a g e f r o m t h e Lankavatara Sutra. U n d a te d , c a . 5 8 0 . S to n e i n s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r ­ a c t e r c a . 4 0 c m h ig h . M t. G a n g , Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :A u th o r .

style to the Northern Qi period. The Qingzhou fig­ ures were not buried until the twelfth century, but similar caches of icons that appear to have been interred in the sixth cen­ tury have turned up at several sites in Shan­ dong.57Among these finds are four gilt-bronze Bud­ dhist images dating from between 533 and 562 that were buried at the former site of the Guanyin Temple in Zou County (fig. 3.15). Although they are of mod­ est significance as works

3 .1 5 . B u d d h a s a n d b o d h is a t t v a s . F ro m l e f t t o r i g h t :d a t e d 5 3 3 (? ), F ig . :

of art, the figures, dedi­

1 8 .7 (

cated by members of a

8 .6 c m h ig h . D is c o v e r e d a t t h e s it e o f G u a n y in T e m p le , Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n ­

family surnamed Ma, are

h ig h ; d a t e d 5 4 5 , 13 c m h ig h ;d a t e d 5 5 6 , 1 2.8 c m h ig h ;d a t e d 5 6 2 ,

d o n g . Z o u c h e n g M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m . P h o to : C o u r te s y o f H u X in li.

tangible traces of the visual culture of Buddhism in this area during the lifetimes of those who conceived and executed the inscriptions at Mt. Tie and at other sites in Zou County.58While no one knows the circumstances under which the icons were buried, this discovery may reflect events that cast an ominous shadow over the otherwisetriumphant history of Buddhism in sixth-century Shandong:a short-lived but aggres­ sive persecution that would have given the owners of the small bronze images good cause to hide them underground.59 An earlier attempt to eradicate Buddhism had been launched in 446 by the Northern Wei ruler Emperor Taiwu (r. 424-451). At that time, however, Shandong was under the control of the Liu-Song dynasty and was shielded from the destruction of temples and icons and the forced laicization of monks and nuns inflicted upon other parts of northern China. By the time Shandong was annexed by the Northern Wei, in 466-467, Buddhism was once again lavishly supported by the state, as evidenced during the same decade by the opening of the Yungang cave chapels near Pingcheng. Under the rule of the Eastern Wei and its successor state, the Northern Qi, Buddhism in Shandong enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity. This came to an abrupt end in 577 when the Northern Qi dynasty fell to the invading armies of the Northern Zhou, and the inhabitants of Shandong became the subjects of Emperor W u (r. 561-577). Early in his reign Emperor W u had supported the construction of Buddhist

temples, the ordination of monks and nuns, and the transcription of sutra texts.60 His eventual attack on Buddhism may have been fueled by a prophecy circulating in northern China that foretold the overthrow of the ruling house by “wearers of black garments,” a reference to Buddhist monks who dressed in black. The key figure in turning Emperor W u against Buddhism, as well as Daoism, was a con man and putative monk, Wei Yuansong, who traveled to Chang’an from his native Sichuan, wormed his way into the emperor’s favor, and in 567 presented a memorial calling for a reorganization of the Buddhist church with the emperor as its new head. Wei’s memorial, though not a call for the persecution of Buddhism, did include a passage denouncing the worship of stupas and images, which he recommended should be destroyed. It was not until 574, after a series of debates at court between Buddhists and Daoists, that Emperor W u decided to ban both religions in favor of Confucian­ ism. In his official decree, the emperor ordered the destruction of temples, images, and scriptures. At the same time, the state compelled monks and nuns to return to lay life and confiscated money and property from monasteries. After troops of the Northern Zhou marched eastward to conquer the North­ ern Qi, Emperor W u visited the city of Ye and personally announced his proscription of Buddhism to an assembly of weeping monks. Throughout Shandong, according to Collected Debates Ancient and Modern on Buddhism and Daoism (Ji gujin fo dao lunheng), “images were melted down or cut up; the scriptures were burned ;and all the property of the church was confiscated by the state"61 Fortunately for the history of Buddhism, Emperor W u died only one year later, and the proscription he had decreed soon came to an end. His heir, Emperor Xuan (r. 578-579), ruled briefly before abdicating in favor of his son, who took the throne at the age of eight swi(nine years old by Western reckoning) as Emperor Jing (r. 579-581). Although Emperor Xuan was on the throne for less than a year, he is remembered in Buddhist histori­ ography as the “restorer of the Buddhist sun_”62 Emperor W u’s brief attack on Buddhism was an ominous sign that far worse events feared by some Buddhists in northern China might be approaching:the total extinction of Buddhism in the age of mofa,or “Final Dharma: *63 Anxiety over the approach of this spiritual apocalypse seems to have been as old as Buddhism itself. Sakyamuni warned his followers that his teachings would be transmitted in their true form for only five hundred years after his death一 a disaster he attributed to women leaving their homes to become mendicants.64 Sutras widely read in China echoed forebodings-about the decline of Buddhism. The Diamond Sutra speaks of the “last five hundred years” when the teaching of this sutra will be difficult to believe or under­ stand. Voicing similar fears, the Sutra of Limitless Life quotes the Buddha’s warning that when he is gone “the Way of the scriptures will gradually be lost, and people will again lose themselves in flattery and deception and fall again into evil ways/’65 The

Nirvana sutra, translated into Chinese in 421, discusses the extinction of Buddhism, predicting that only eighty years remained before this horror came to pass.66 The age of mo/a was expected to follow two periods:one called “True Dharma” (zhengfa\ during which the teaching of the Buddha would be accessible to all;and the other called “Semblance Dharma” (xiangfa), during which only the outward forms of the religion would survive.67 The duration of these periods puzzled believers, and theologians advanced various systems for calculating how much time remained before the arrival of mofa. A systematization of Buddhist chronology proposed by the monk Huisi (5巧—577), also known as Nanyue Huisi, appears in his “Vow” (Lishiyuan wen), written in 558—559,68 According to Huisi’s calculations, True Dharma had extended for five hundred years after the death of the Buddha;there followed the period of Semblance Dharma, which lasted for one thousand years, giving way to mofa’ which would last for ten thousand years, after which all sutras would disappear and Bud­ dhism come to an end. In addition to offering this systematization, Huisi proclaimed that the age of mofa had actually arrived, a fact the monk makes clear by correlating the year of his own birth in 515 with the eighty-second year of mofa, yielding the date 433/434 as the beginning of this

age of woe.69 W ith the translation, in 566, of the Can-

dragarbha Sutra by Narendrayasas, who lived in the Northern Qi capital, another pre­ diction of the arrival of mofa became available in Chinese.70Although this text, which was later incorporated into the Great Collection Sutra, does not specify a date for the beginning of mofa, it does describe the moral corruption of clergy and laymen, as well as wars and persecutions that will accompany the decline of the dharma. The sutra also foretells the destruction of Buddhist images and stupas.71 If the age of mofa was at hand, what were Buddhists to do in the face of this grim revelation? Would carving scriptures on stone forestall the approaching end of the dharma? Several inscriptions accompanying carved sutras explicitly announce that the donors intended to preserve texts in the indestructible medium of stone. The dedicatory inscription at the central cave at Xiaonanhai cited earlier recounts the monk Sengchou's desire to “carve stones and arrange the sutras, so they will be transmitted and not perish”一 the earliest statement, according to Katherine R. Tsiang, of the idea of carving sutras on stone to ensure their survival.72 Tang Yong, one of the major donors of the Northern Xiangtangshan Caves, voiced a similar hope in his inscription accompanying the carved sutras at this site: The empire lifts its cries to fill the skies. The thousand officials are full of anxiety. They ask with concern if the treasure of the dharma is being upheld. As silk scrolls can be spoiled, bamboo documents do not last long, metal tablets are difficult to preserve, and parchment and paper are easily destroyed, the seals of the seven offices have been taken out

and the coffers of the seven treasures opened. Upon investigating the Buddhist texts, the trace of the silver chisel has been ordered. In agree­ ment it was declared that the celebrated mountain at the Gushan Cave (Xiangtangshan) be completely carved [with sutra texts].73 A passage from the Stone Eulogy on Mt. Tie explains the donors’ intentions in remark­ ably similar terms: Even if from today onward the carving should meet with disastrous fire, it w ill not be consumed. Should its divine [multiple graphs miss*

ing] encounter a destructive wind, it w ill endure. Thus, [painting with] reds and greens [two missing graphs] is used to depict the flourishing of the dharma. [missing graph] Metal and stone, for their durability, are used to carve it so that it will not decay. Were this cliff not inscribed, what would later generations be able to see?74 (3F)

The rhymed section that follows this passage returns to the theme of durability, contrasting the permanence of stone with that of other materials: Silk and bamboo are easily ruined, ■ But metal and stone are hard to destroy. Placed on a high mountain [The writing] w ill be passed down without limit. (3G) Read with knowledge that some Buddhists of this period feared that mofa was im m i­ nent or had in fact arrived— a fear that Huisi, s “Vow” and the Candragarbha Sutra made explicit^these statements seem to confirm that donors were determined to ensure the survival of sutras in the face of any future calamities. There are reasons to doubt, however, that preparing for the advent of mofa was the sole or even the principal motivation for carving the sutras. Although forebodings of the decline of Buddhism predate the beginning of carving sutras on stone, it is by no means clear that belief in this concept was widespread in northern China at this time. Sengchou had first proposed inscribing sutras in order to pass them down to later generations in 555,several years before Huisi composed his “Vow” and a decade before Narendrayasas translated the Candragarbha Sutra?5It is likely that the chronology used to calculate the death of the Buddha in inscriptions at Mt. Hongding was based on Huisi’s writings, suggesting that his ideas were known to Buddhists in Shandong in the decade of the 560s; but these carved texts say noth­ ing about Huisi’s declaration that mofa had arrived.76More fundamentally, develop­

ments in the visual arts of Buddhism during the medieval period usually lagged behind the propagation of theological doctrine.77 Although dedications state that donors adopted the medium of carved stone to ensure the preservation of sutras, the literary conventions used to express these ideas are no different from those found in the texts of stone carvings that have noth­ ing to do with Buddhism.78 In particular, epitaphs from the Northern Dynasties mention over and over the desire to preserve texts, and memories of the deceased they honor, in the imperishable medium of stone. In the epitaph of Xing Wei (d. 514) his family states that they employed the medium of carved stone because “writing on silk can sometimes be destroyed, but metal and stone are by nature solid and imperishable/79 The family of Helian Ziyue (d. 573) states in his epitaph that “metal and stone do not decay, though [painting] with reds and greens is easy to destroy. Sighing over the thought of later generations, and reverently looking up to his flour­ ishing virtue, we therefore made an inscription., , 80 The epitaph of Fan Cui (d. 575) states that “to transmit that which will not perish, [we] carved this dark stone.”81 The shared language of sixth-century epitaphs and sutra dedications shows that anp text caved on stone was intended endure forever. These literary conventions may have acquired special meanings in a Buddhist context during an age when the destruction of sacred artifacts and monuments was an unmistakable political real­ ity, if not a widely acknowledged theological threat. Nevertheless, the absence of any explicit reference to mofa makes it impossible to point to this doctrine as the direct impetus for carving the monumental sutras. When a project intended to protect sutras from destruction did begin during the Sui dynasty at the Yunjusi Monastery near Beijing, there could be no mistaking the motivations of those who planned and carried out the work. Under the supervision of the monk Jingwan (d. 639), the texts of sutras were carved on stone slabs and placed in Thunder Sound Gave.82 In an inscription from the year before his death, Jingwan explained his goals: Sakyamuni Buddha’s zhengfa and xiangfa lasted for more than 1,500 years. Now, in the second year of the Zhenguan era (628), [we have been immersed in] mofa for seventy-five years. The sun of the Buddha has set; the [dark] night is now deep. Blind are sentient beings’ and they have consequently lost their way. Jingwan, to preserve the true dharma, has led his followers, his friends,and those who like [to give alms] to this mountain ridge to carve the Flower Garland Sutra and other texts in twelve divisions. [I] hope to rescue the living creatures in the numer­ ous kalpa cycles of time and hope all believers and secular people will attain enlightenment.83

Jingwan’s statement emphatically announces the purpose of the great Yunjusi enter­ prise. In contrast, the dedicatory inscriptions accompanying the sutras in Shandong and Hebei are more ambiguous:they tell us that the donors wished to preserve and transmit sutras, but in this respect their goals were no different from those of the donors of carved texts of other kinds. Jingwan, s project differed also from those of the sutra donors in Shandong and in central China in that he was intent on preserving complete texts, not selected excerpts. The complete texts of some sutras do appear at Xiangtangshan;none are found in Shandong, though the transcription from the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai encompasses about half of the complete scripture. Aside from those carved on Mt. Tai, Mt. Tie, and Mt. Ge, most of the sutra passages carved in Shandong do not exceed one hundred characters in length. The repetition of the same text at multiple sites also argues against any systematic attempt to transmit the Buddhist canon to later generations. More fundamentally, if the preservation of texts was the donors’ prin­ cipal concern, why did they leave the texts exposed to the elements on mountain­ sides? Stone is more durable than silk or paper, but inscriptions can be effaced by the passing centuries, as Jingwan surely knew when he decided to have the carved slabs at the Yunjusi Monastery hidden safely in a cave. If the monumental sutras of Shandong were not carved for the sake of protect­ ing them from destruction, what was their intended function? Like sacred images and monuments of all kinds, they undoubtedly were perceived and used in manydifferent ways, as were Buddhist icons and relics. Although we cannot know pre­ cisely what the donors hoped to achieve by having them carved, it is possible to envision certain religious functions that the inscriptions could have served in the context of medieval Chinese Buddhism. To do so, they must be understood not only as texts but also as artifacts imbued with numinous powers.

T H E P O W E R OF S U T R A S “Thus have I heard.” Embodied in this phrase, w ith which most Buddhist sutras open, is the residue of their original transmission, not as written texts but as oral recitations. It was not until several centuries after the death of Sakyamuni that his teachings were fixed in writing. According to Kogen Mizuno, sutras were first pre­ served as written texts in Sri Lanka in the first century b. c . e ., inscribed most likely on broad palm leaves. More than a century later, in Gandhara, the Kushan emperor Kaniska (fl. ca. 120 c . e .) sponsored a council of monks charged with compiling the texts of sutras and commentaries on them, some of which were engraved on copper plates.84By the time of its arrival in China, no later than the first century c . e ., Bud­

dhism was a religion of texts, and the work of translating sutras into Chinese lay at the heart of Buddhist practice as it traveled eastward. The production of sacred texts changes the nature of religion. Jack Goody argues that “once the Holy Word has been written down in book form and institu­ tionalized in a church, it becomes a profoundly conserving force., ’85 Texts, Goody writes, “lead to the development of thoughts about thoughts, to a metaphysic that may require its own metalanguage., ’86 Goody’s claims about the effects of literacy on revolutions in thought have been challenged, but his observations concerning the material and institutional by-products of the use of writing in religion are as evident in East Asia as in the West: religious texts lead to the founding of scriptoria and schools;the preparation of texts inspires ritual acts;and their storage and preservation foster attitudes and beliefs that set sacred texts apart from secular writing.87 In the history of Buddhism, the production of written sutras coexisted with oral recitations, incantations, and preaching, as well as with storytelling through the aid of pictures, all of which were part of the religious practices of both literate and illiterate believers.88The ear, and the eye, both were means of access to salvation. But the use of texts, as physical artifacts, resulted in two phenomena unknown in purely oral religious traditions:believers sought to accumulate merit through the act of transcribing sutras, and they viewed texts, whatever their mate­ rial form, as objects of worship. Both aspects of sutras— their power to confer bless­ ings and to inspire veneration— tell us much about what the donors of the carved sutras in Shandong might have expected to receive as a'result of their pious acts and how they and other believers might have responded to the sight of monumen­ tal inscriptions. The sutras of Mahayana Buddhism promise blessings to all who hear, recite, or transmit these scriptures.89The Perfection ofWisdom Sutra in Eight Thousand Lines, translated by Kumarajlva (344-413) in 408, decrees:“If a good man or woman can­ not receive and keep the Perfection of Wisdom [Sutra], read and recite it, or practice as it preaches, he or she should copy it and revere, respect, and applaud it with good flowers and incense.”90 The Lotus Sutra (Miaofa lianhua jing), also translated by Kumarajlva, instructs believers to make copies of sutras and promises untold mer­ its for those who do so. In chapter 19, Sakyamuni explains that any who read, recite, expound, or copy the Lotus Sutra w ill be blessed with supernatural perception enabling them to “see all mountains and forests, rivers and seas, both inner and outer, that are in the thousand-millionfold world.”91 In chapter 28, the bodhisattva Samantabhadra, enumerating the merits to be gained from copying the Lotus Sutra, declares that those who do so w ill be reborn in the Trayatrimsah Heaven. As the bodhisattva explains, one did not have to carry out the act of transcribing the text personally: those who cause others to copy sutras receive equal blessings— a promise

that justified the practice of donors’ hiring scribes or others to write out sutras in the hope of acquiring merit for themselves or for those to whom a sutra transcrip­ tion might be dedicated.92This belief underlies the donation of icons as well:donors did not have to carve stone or cast bronze to make images, but they, or those to whom they had the merit of the deed directed, would benefit all the same. Most of the sutras from which excerpts were carved in Shandong contain passages that promise blessings to those who transcribe the texts. The transcription of the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai concludes w ith the Buddha’s resounding articula­ tion of this concept: Furthermore, Subhuti, if one should renounce in the morning all one’s belongings as many times as there are grains of sand in the river Gan­ ges, and if one should do likewise at noon and in the evening and continue thus for countless ages;and if someone else, on hearing this discourse on dharma, were to accept it with a believing heart, the merit acquired by the latter would far exceed that of the former. How much more the merit of one who would copy, memorize, learn, recite, and expound it for others!93 The promises extended in sutra passages such as this inspired donors of sutra tran­ scriptions on paper or silk to request benefits for both the living and the dead. On a transcription of the Great Collection Sutra dated 492 and discovered at Dunhuang, the donor, a bhiksu named Wujue, states that he “respectfully made one section of the Great Collection Sutra, intending that all of the merit would ensure the early rebirth of his father, mother, and ancestors extending back for seven generations in the Pure Land, bring the achievement of the bodhi mind to all sentient beings, and increase longevity and ward off difficulties and evil ways.”94 Closer in time and in space to the monumental sutras of Shandong, a group of donors in Juye County in Shandong sponsored the carving of a stele in 564. Although the text carved on the stele is not from a canonical sutra, as was once believed, but from a text concerning the observance of maigre feasts, the donors treated the production of this monument as a meritorious act and inscribed on the back of the stele their hopes for blessings for the state and their families, as well as for the achievement of nirvana by all sentient beings.95 None of the monumental sutra engravings in Shandong are accompanied by dedications or explicit statements listing benefits the donors expected to gain. In the Stone Eulogy on Mt. Tie we read of the donors’ commitment to freely spending in the service of “the dharma court” and to casting away their family wealth as if it were nothing more than “frost-stricken leaves.” Although the Stone Eulogp likens the act of donating the sutra to the achievement of the bodhi mind experienced by

thousands who heard the Buddha preach the Great Collection Sutra, the donors did not, at least as far as we can judge from the Stone Eulogy, expect further blessings for themselves. Nevertheless, in the economy of merit that structured the transcriptions of sutras, as well as the creation of icons or Buddhist monuments such as temple buildings or pagodas, donors could confidently expect that their generosity would not go unrewarded. This was a good reason to carve a sutra. Transcribing a sutra in any form had the beneficent effect also of preserving and disseminating Buddhist teachings. At the same time, the production of a sutra brought into existence a sacred object.96 This conception of sutras underlay a phe­ nomenon in early Mahayana Buddhism that Gregory Schopen has called the “cult of the book.”97 This refers to the belief that sites where sutras were preached or recited, or sites where sutras were present in the form of textual transcriptions, were inherently sacred. The worship of sutras, Schopen argues, was patterned on the earlier practice of worshiping sarlra (Chinese:sheli)— that is, relics of the Buddha enshrined in stupas. Theologically, the worship of sutras arose from the belief that, like fragments of his physical body, the Buddha's words, in spoken or written form, were incarnations of his presence. To worship a sutra was to express devotion to the Buddha. Passages in the Lotus Sutra, such as the following excerpt from chapter 10,“Preachers of Dharma, ” prescribe forms that the worship of sutras should take and explain the reasons for such acts: Wherever it may be preached, or read, or recited, or written, or whatever place a roll of this scripture may occupy, in all those places one is to erect a stupa of the eleven jewels, building it high and wide and with impressive decoration. There is no need even to lodge sarlra (relics) in it. W hat is the reason? W ithin it there is already [my italics] a whole body of the Thus Come One.98 At least from the second century

c .e


practices like these mentioned in the Lotus

Sutra were known in India and Central Asia, where believers enshrined within stupas scriptures written on relic caskets, clay tablets, and other text-bearing artifacts. Through these acts, the teachings of the Buddha in written form were accorded the same status as relics of his b o d y b o t h were signs of his presence." During his visit to India between the years 399 and 414, the Chinese monk Faxian (ca. 337-422) saw Buddhists erecting stupas dedicated to sutras, though it is not clear from his account if these structures held texts or other artifacts.100 Small stone monuments that are usually identified as miniature stupas and that have been discovered in Xinjiang and Gansu may reflect a distinct local form of practices

similar to those Faxian witnessed outside China.101 Carved during a short period of time, roughly 426-436, the miniature stupas range in height from around seven­ teen to ninety-six centimeters (fig. 3.16). They display relief or intaglio images of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other deities, and a majority are incised with the Eight Trigrams from the Book ofChanges. What is remarkable about the miniature stupas, and what links them to the Indian monuments recorded by Faxian, are the inscribed texts they bear^the earliest extant sutra passages in Chinese carved on stone. Virtually identical, these passages on fourteen known examples come from an early recension of the Ekottarikagama (Ekottaragama) Sutra (Zengyiahan jing) that expounds the doctrine of dependent origination. This summation of Sakyamuni^ teachings, known as the pratU^asamutpada, has also been discovered inside votive stupas in India, where the texts clearly were intended as substitutes for relics.102 On the Northern Liang dynasty votive stupas, the text is not hidden w ithin an interior space but is presented to the viewer on the exterior surfaces. Although it is unclear what significance the sutra passages might have had for fifth-century Buddhists in northwestern China, before Mahayana doctrines were firmly established, it is likely that the small text-bearing stupas, like relics or icons, would have merited the worshipful respect of believers.103 In the sixth century the connection between stupas and sutras was expressed in a new, concrete form at Xiang­ tangshan.104Many of the caves at this site mimic the structure of one- or two-storied stupas. At the Northern Xiangtangshan Caves, the facade of the entrance of the South Cave displays a domed roof topped by lotus blossoms carved in relief (plate 12). Above the entrance are names of three Buddhas of the future and other deities, along with the names of divisions of Mahayana scriptures. Carved inside the South Cave, which also houses three groups of Buddhas and bodhisatt­ vas, is the text of the Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings (Wuliangyi jing). Other sutras appear on the stone walls of the courtyard in front of the cave, along with Tang Yong’s dedicatory inscription of 572. The combination of figures and texts carved inside and outside the cave shows that this structure, which might be called a “mountain-stupa,” served Fig. 3 .1 6 . V o tiv e s t u p a d e d i­ c a t e d b y C h e n g D u a n ,e r. 4 3 6 .

the same function as freestanding monuments built to

S to n e . 4 3 c m h ig h . J iu q u a n

enshrine sacred artifacts.105

M u n ic ip a l M u s e u m , J iu q u a n , G a n s u . P h o to :Zhongguo meishu q u a n ji :diaosu bian, v o l. 3, Wei Jin Nanbeichao diaosu, p i. 31.

In Shandong, Buddhist donors adopted a different approach. Instead of excavating cave chapels or shaping part of the natural terrain into representations of stupas, they

placed sutra texts directly on the surfaces of mountains. As a result, the sites them­ selves became sacred. The power of sutras to produce this transformation of mundane into sacred space is explained in passages from the Diamond Sutra carved on Mt. Tai: Wherever this sutra or even four lines of it are preached, that place will be respected by all beings, including devas, ashuras, etc., as if it were the Buddha’s own ta___Wherever this sutra is kept, the place is to be regarded as if Buddha or a venerable disciple of his were present there___That spot of earth where this sutra will be revealed, that spot of earth will be worthy of worship by the whole world with its gods, men, ashuras, worthy of being saluted respectfully, worthy of being honored by circumambulation. That spot of earth will be (like a) ta.106 The word ta, usually translated from Chinese as “stupa” or “pagoda,” corresponds to the word caitpa in the original Sanskrit text. In this passage from the Diamond Sutra, Schopen argues, the word caitya conveys the broader meaning of “sacred place” and need not be understood as a structure or architectural monument; a caitpa could simply be a site in a landscape.107 In the case of the inscribed sutra on Mt. Tai, the phrase “this spot of earth” should be read indexically, as a self-referential label affixed to the granite surface of the mountain on which the sutra was carved. To understand that this is sacred ground, we need only read the text it bears. Images or buildings were not needed to produce a locus for worship:the words of the Buddha placed on Mt. Tai were enough. The same may be said of all the sites of carved sutras on the mountains of Shandong. If, as the Diamond Sutra announces, the site where a sutra appears was sacred, how did sixth-century Buddhists respond to the carved texts?108Historical and liter­ ary sources offer a few glimpses of sutra worship in medieval China. In his Record of the Buddhist Temples of Luoyang (preface dated 547),Yang Xuanzhi (fl. ca. 547) describes collective veneration of sutras at the Baimasi, or Temple of the White Horse, in Luoyang: Scripture cases housed in the temple have survived until this day;to them incense was often burned and good care was given. At times, the scripture cases gave off light that illuminated the room and hall. As a result, both laymen and Buddhist devotees reverently worshipped as if they werefacing the real Buddha [my italics].109 Miracle tales also recount the worship of sutra transcriptions that displayed numi­ nous qualities, including an occasion on which sutra texts arrayed along with images in a private home produced a miraculous visitation of heavenly monks.110

Accounts of Buddhists venerating portable sutras, such as those housed at the Baimasi, give us some idea of the rituals that might have been performed at the foot of Mt. Tie beneath the passage from the Great Collection Sutra. Because sutras were believed to share the same power and holy status accorded relics and images of deities, we can assume that they, too, were the focus of ritual observances and were presented offerings of flowers or incense.111Although ethnographic evidence must be used with caution, practices observable in contemporary Chinese Buddhism powerfully recall much earlier forms of devotion known through textual sources and give us some idea of how carved texts might have been worshiped in medieval China. Behind the Nanputuo Temple in Xiamen, a huge character reading fo, or “Buddha,” was written on a cliff in 1905. After Red Guards attacked the temple and destroyed its icons during the Cultural Revolution, local believers relocated their worship to the site of the carved character, placing offerings on an outdoor altar and treating the calligraphy as the embodiment of a sacred presence.112In 1999, on Drum Mountain (Gushan), outside the city of Fuzhou, I observed local Buddhists placing incense at the base of a cliff wall bearing the names of Buddhist deities carved in the late seventeenth century (plate 13). In these two contemporary instances of worship directed toward large-scale inscriptions, the objects of ven­ eration were names of deities, a fact that allows us to imagine similar devotions performed in the presence of the inscribed Buddha names at Mt. Hongding and other sites. Buddha names, inscribed or chanted aloud, were believed to invoke the presence of deities, just as sutras were believed to be embodiments of the Buddha himself.113 W hat these examples show is that for Buddhists in China today, as for their coreligionists of earlier periods, texts, like images and relics, can be sources of sacred power and objects of devout worship.

L A N D S C A P E AND WRITING Any account of rituals or acts of worship that took place in the sixth century at Mt. Tie or at other sites of the carved sutras must remain speculative; what we can know and analyze are the material forms and physical environments in which the sutras were viewed. W ithin the history of sutra transcriptions in Asia, characters carved on stone represented a new and seemingly imperishable medium for the display of words believed to have been spoken by the Buddha in the remote past, but no medium of transmission could be less like speech. Spoken words are fleeting and transient, disappearing as soon as they are uttered; characters fixed on the side of a mountain share the durability of the earth itself. Paradoxically, however, the phys­ ical conditions imposed by reading words embodied in a monumental inscription

are much like those demanded by spoken utterance. Writing about Egyptian inscrip­ tions, Jan Assmann has observed that “the monument takes the place of the body [of the speaker], and the monumental physical situation, limited by space, takes the place of the oral physical situation [of listening to speech]., , 114W hile words on por­ table artifacts, such as books or hand scrolls, are convenient and easily transported, readable at any time or place, the words of an inscription, like those spoken aloud, can be perceived only at a single location. Just as the only way to hear a speaker prior to the invention of electronic means for the broadcast and reproduction of sound was to be in his presence, the only way to read a monumental inscription is to go to the place where it is carved. To gain access to the sites of some of the carved sutras in Shandong requires rela­ tively little exertion. Mt. Tie, close to the heart of what was already an important regional city in the sixth century, can be approached by moving up a gentle slope, on which paths almost certainly had been cut by the time the sutra passage was carved. To reach the summit of Mt. Culai, on the other hand, requires an arduous hike up the southern face of the mountain or along a twisting ridge to the north. The rocky terrain of Mt. Yi also presents a formidable challenge to anyone hoping to read the passage from the Manjusri Sutra carved on Five Blossoms Peak, its high­ est point. Steep or gently rising, the terrain at each of the locations of the carved sutras draws the body, along with the mind and eyes, into actively seeking out the texts. The physical exertion of going to the sites of the writing parallels other forms of ambulatory worship and meditation in medieval Buddhism. The most widespread of these among lay and monastic Buddhists was the ritual circumambulation of a pagoda. As the participant moved through space and chanted sutras or prayers, he acquired karmic merit and achieved states of visionary concentration.115As noted earlier, a passage from the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai specifically names circumambulation as one of the proper responses of a believer in the presence of a sutra, and it is possible to envision worshipers walking up and down the “aisles” of the carved slope as a form of ritual movement, though here again we lack secure evidence for such practices at this or other sites. Unlike ambulatory meditation intended to generate internal visions of para­ dise or images of deities, the ascent of a sutra-bearing mountain granted intense and direct visual experience of the real world:to move up the slopes of Mt. Tai or Mt. Yi or one of the other inscribed mountains was to be surrounded by real land­ scape and to be offered sweeping views of distant scenery. Today, much as it prob­ ably did in the sixth century, the route up the southern face of Mt. Tai leading to Sutra Valley enfolds the climber in a landscape of lush forests, rugged granite boulders, streams, and waterfalls; upon reaching the site of the Diamond Sutra, one then gazes

up at the higher slopes of Mt. Tai rising in the north. On Mt. Culai the experience of standing at the site of the carved passage from the Manjusri Sutra is very different: instead of being sheltered by the mountain, the viewer finds himself gazing from a natural, stagelike terrace across a valley that opens to the south.116 For none of the carved sutras do we have statements by the donors explain­ ing why these particular sites were chosen. W hat is clear, however, is that sixthcentury donors were alert to the natural and cultural settings in which both images and texts were placed, preferring sites protected by mountains or at the side of streams.117 In an inscription for a statue eight zhang in height erected in 567,the donors proclaimed : Its placement is at a blessed spot. To the north it is linked to a famous mountain, the temple of Taiqin (Mt. Tai). To the south there is a high ridge, where Hucheng is forever fixed. Placed in the center, the W u River flows eastward. The people [missing graph] are fortunate and the work a blessed enterprise.118 (3H) Donors also glorified the locations where icons were placed by likening these sites to the legendary landscapes of Buddhism. Yang Yingxiang, donor of an image dedi­ cated in 570, proclaimed that the site he had chosen was like the Jetavana Park near SravastI in India. In the same year, in the dedication for a Buddhist stele dated 570-571 at the Shaolin Monastery on Mt. Song, Dong Hongda and other members of a lay society made similar claims: At this place [missing graph] one ambles [missing graph] among cliffs and mountain streams. To the left it overlooks a mountain gully ;to the south one glimpses the great road. To the west one catches sight of the capital city in the distance. If this is not like the sacred garden of the sarira, then truly it is the land Sudatta covered in gold (Jetavana Park).1^ (3I) Dedications also show that donors were interested in calling attention to how the beauty of surrounding landscapes attracted worshipers and shaped their expe­ riences. In his inscription at the Northern Xiangtangshan Caves, Tang Yong describes the effects of aural and visual phenomena on the mind of a visitor: The deep valleys are uninhabited and tranquil, and the village resi­ dences peaceful and spacious. The groves are most marvelous, and the grass patterned and soft. Birds circle in the sky, and animals lean under

the trees. The sound of water emerges, and one realizes the Way. The echo of the wind moves, and one apprehends all things. This is truly the place where commandment-observing Buddhist disciples gather and where the company of enlightened men returns.120(3J) The donors of the sutra transcription on Mt. Tie also call attention to its posi­ tion in space and to the surrounding landscape environment. The Stone Eulogy locates the mountain in the following terms: [It is] southeast of Xiaqiu, on the sunny southern slope of great Mt. Gang. In front one observes Zhuyi rising majestically and sees the peak that brushes the Milky Way.121Turning around, one looks into the dis­ tance at the looming pinnacle of Mt. Tai and gazes at the cloud-parting sacred mountain. Furthermore, to the left, one glances at the cliffs of Chang and, to the right, looks over the post roads of Zou, surrounded by mountains and streams, groves and [two missing graphs].122 (3K) The geographical orientation of this passage posits a viewer standing at the base of Mt. Tie and facing south. Xiaqiu, to the northwest, was the seat of Yanzhou Prefecture, which encompassed Zou County during the Northern Zhou period. To the south lies Mt. Yi, also known as Mt. Zhuyi; turning to the north, a viewer could see, at least in imagination, the sacred peak of Mt. Tai. To the viewer’s left were the cliffs of Chang County, which lies southeast of Mt. Tie, and to the right snaked a post road, roughly in the position of the modern rail line linking Shanghai and Beijing.123 This textual mapping of the physical and cultural geography w ithin which Mt. Tie lay underscores the excellence of the site by associating it with other moun­ tains of great religious and historic importance in Shandong: Mt. Tai and Mt. Yi. Not only were massive sutra transcriptions already in place on their slopes, but both mountains had been marked with writing centuries earlier during the visits of the First Emperor of Qin. The donors of the Mt. Tie sutra were well aware of the epi­ graphic pedigree of these mountains, as evidenced by a passage in the Stone Eulogy alluding to “the inscribed merits of the Emperor of Qin.” The donors did not stop, however, at citing these imperial precedents: they asserted, through the voice of the unknown author of the Stone Eulogy,that the carved text was even greater. It was both the calligraphy of the sutra transcription and the format in which it was pre­ sented that inspired the donors to make these claims for the magnificence of what they had created on Mt. Tie.

IN P R A I S E OF S £ N G ,A N D A O y i In addition to praising the locations at which images were placed, dedications of Buddhist icons of the sixth century often call attention to the quality of the materials used and to their visual splendor. Excellent workmanship displayed in carving and application of gold, colors, and other ornaments was also believed to enhance the sanctity of icons and to increase the merit accrued by having them made.124The Stone Eulogy on Mt. Tie does not name the workers who carried out the task of carving the sutra, but the text does liken these anonymous men to the carpenter Lu Ban and the artisan Chui’ archetypal master craftsmen of antiquity.125 The result of their labors, according to the Stone Eulogy, surpassed famous inscriptions of antiquity : •

Even in comparison with the jade plaques of Mt. Kunlun or the golden slips of [missing graph] guan,126 the recorded achievements of [King] Mu of Zhou or the inscribed merits of the Emperor of Qin,[missing graph] the present [carving] surpasses them [missing graph], and [the past examples] cannot compare.127 (3L)

Mt. Kunluawas believed to be the source of excellent jade and the location of inscrip­ tions carved by King Mu of Zhou during his mythic visit to this mountain ;the “inscribed merits” of the First Emperor of Qin alludes, of course, to the texts placed on Mt. Tai and Mt. Y i^b o th sites mentioned in the Stone Eulogp^ a n d on other mountains. But none of these legendary or historical examples of writing, the text argues, could rival the sutra transcription on Mt. Tie. However accomplished the work of the stone carvers, their role in the produc­ tion of the sutra transcription was subsidiary to that of the calligrapher who brushed the characters on the mountain. As described in chapter 1, names of calligraphers appear on a few steles of the Han dynasty. The Inscription for the Stone Gate, carved in 509, names the calligrapher Wang Yuan. Names of calligraphers and statements about the quality of handwriting appear also in early Buddhist documents and inscriptions. Among these are colophons that name the calligraphers who executed sutra transcriptions and monastic records discovered at Dunhuang. In some cases these notes include disclaimers in which the calligraphers apologize for the poor quality of their writing and entreat readers not to laugh at their efforts— a sign of the calligrapher’s or donor’s conviction that these sacred texts should be executed in a beautiful hand.128 Names of calligraphers appear also on a few examples of Buddhist epigraphy that predate the Mt. Tie sutra. On a Northern Liang miniature stupa of 436 found at Jiuquan in Gansu, the calligraphy is identified as the work of a scribe named Linghu Liansi (see fig. 3.16). Although we have no idea how the donor,

whose degree of literacy is unknown, might have viewed the presence of the callig­ rapher's name on the article he purchased, it may have been intended as a certifica­ tion of good workmanship for which Linghu Liansi claimed recognition.129 In the Guyang Cave at Longmen, a shrine dedicated in 498 to the Duke of Shiping names the calligrapher, Zhu Yizhang,as well as the author of the text, Meng Da. Another inscription in the same cave for a shrine dedicated in 502 states that the author of the text was Meng Guangda (an alternate name of Meng Da?) and the calligrapher was Xiao Xianqing. As in the case of the Northern Liang votive stupa, the inclusion of this information about calligraphers in inscriptions at Longmen probably signi­ fies that the quality of the writing was a feature of these monuments that added to their value and was a potential source of pride, and merit, for the donors. The Stone Eulogy on Mt. Tie does far more than simply identify the person who wrote the sutra transcription:it makes the calligrapher, his personal virtues, and the quality of his writing principal themes of the text. We read of the great Humana, Dharma Master An, whose practice of the Way mir­ rors nonduality and whose virtue shows enlightenment from the single source, who not only grasps all mysteries, but also possesses skill of the highest order in calligraphy. [The donors] therefore requested that with his divine brush, in the midst of the four eminences,130 he respectfully transcribe nine hundred and thirty characters of the “Penetration of Bodhin chapter of the Great Collection Sutra.1^1(3M) Master An undoubtedly is the same monk, “Seng’an Daoyi of Dongling,” identified as the calligrapher of the sutra passage in the Inscribed Record on Mt. Tie and as a donor at Mt. Jian. The name of Seng’an Daoyi does not appear in any historical source, and it is only with the discovery of the inscriptions at Mt. Hongding identified as his writing that his career has come into clearer focus. On the northern cliff, in addition to the inscription naming the monk as the calligrapher of the inscribed name “Great Vacuity King Buddha” (Da kong wang Fo), datable to 564, there is a text identified by a seal script title as the Stele ofthe Honorable An (Angong zhi bei). Datable to 561, three years before the writing of “Great Vacuity King Buddha,Mthis inscription is a virtually untranslatable explication of the monk's Buddhist name. The closing lines might be rendered as follows:“If one is peaceful (an), then one can achieve (understanding of) unity (pz), and if one (understands) unity, one can be peaceful.”132To the right of this inscription is another displaying the name of Seng’an Daoyi carved within a border in the shape of a pointed gui tablet, next to a cryptic biographical statement that some scholars have interpreted as an account of Seng’an Daoyi’s origins and early career (fig. 3.17). The text records that Seng’an Daoyi was from Kou Village in Guangda

Fig. 3.17. In s crip tio n fo r Seng'an Daoyi. U n d a te d , c a . 5 6 4 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n , 2 4 7 x 2 4 3 c m . M t. H o n g d in g , D o n g p in g C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g S to n e C a r v in g A r t M u s e u m , J i ,n a n . P h o to :A u th o r .

Township, though none of these names can be identified with actual places. Moun­ tains called Jishi and Kongtong mentioned in the carved biography do exist in Gansu, hinting that Seng, an Daoyi might have been from this region. The name “A n, , , if this was his surname and not simply a Buddhist name adopted at the time of his ordina­ tion, was common among Sogdians living in the area of modern Gansu and the Hexi Corridor, the homeland of many Buddhist clerics active during the sixth century.133 There is no mention of these places in the inscriptions on Mt. Tie, in which Seng’an Daoyi is said to be from the still-unidentified Dongling, or “Eastern Ridge.” A damaged passage in the short biography of Seng’an Daoyi at Mt. Hongding alludes to his tireless activity as a producer of stone inscriptions, “on stone after stone, carving inscriptions, on mountain after mountain., ’134Although many ques­

tions about his biography cannot be answered unless new sources turn up, there can be no doubt that he was a prominent figure in sixth-century Buddhism in northern China, active as a calligrapher and organizer of sutra donations over a period of about twenty years. He also may have served as the yishi, or spiritual leader, of lay societies such as the group that sponsored the carving of the sutra on Mt. Tie. If we focus only on those inscriptions at Mt. Hongding and Mt. Tie specifically identified as his work, a remarkable art historical phenomenon emerges:in terms of the number of characters, and in terms of the square meters the inscriptions cover, we have more carved writing from the hand of Seng’an Daoyi than from the hand of any other identifiable calligrapher active before the Tang dynasty. Moreover, although the facts of his biography await clarification, we have a good idea of how his contemporaries judged his calligraphy. After naming Seng’an Daoyi in the introduction of the Stone Eulogy, the author returns to the subject of the monk’s calligraphy in the following verses: Studying the master’s treasured brushwork, It can be assigned the highest rank. Its essence surpasses [Wang] Xi[zhi] and [Wei] Dan, And its marvelous quality goes beyond [Zhang Bo]ying and [Zhong] You. Like a dragon coiling in the mist, Like a phoenix leaping in the rosy clouds. Sagely [missing graph] of subtle patterns, Like divine fungus or mysterious laws.135 From this [missing graph] moment of its establishment It will stand displayed for eternal kalpas. (3N) This is high praise, but the terms in which it is voiced would have been perfectly familiar to connoisseurs of calligraphy among the original readership of the text. Assessing the relative merits of calligraphers was a well-established form of art criticism in the sixth century. Two major works in this tradition were by natives of the Shandong area: Yang Xin (370—442), author of Capable Calligraphersfrom Antiquity Onward (Cai gulai nengshu renming), and Wang Sengqian (426-485), author of Essay on Calligraphy (Shulun). Indulging in the same penchant for ranking calligraphers found in the works of these critics, the author of the Stone Eulogy boldly credits the monk with extraordinary aesthetic achievement, asserting that his calligraphy surpassed that of four revered masters of the Han, Wei, and Eastern Jin periods: Zhang Zhi (zz, Boying, d. ca. 192), Zhong You (151-230), Wei Dan (179-253), and Wang Xizhi (303-361). The metaphoric language used to describe the visual effects of calligraphy

by Seng’an Daoyi also derives from the vocabulary of calligraphy criticism developed during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. The lines “Like a dragon coiling in the mist, / Like a phoenix leaping in the rosy clouds” echo in particular the kinetically charged description of Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy attributed to the art-loving Emperor W u (r. 502-549) of the Liang dynasty:“Like a dragon leaping at the gate of heaven, like a tiger crouching at the phoenix towers.”136 John Kieschnick has pointed out that Buddhist art was not generally evalu­ ated in China according to the aesthetic principles generated w ithin elite culture that shaped criticism of secular works, especially in the media of painting and cal­ ligraphy.137This is what makes the Stone Eulogy on Mt. Tie unusual. Read in its orig­ inal position on the mountain, the text was intended to enhance the value of the sutra inscription, and it did so by importing the discourse of calligraphy connoisseurship and aesthetic evaluation into the domain of Buddhist devotional art. Of the donors’ personal tastes or artistic pursuits, we have no record, but the Stone Eulogp reflects the considerable knowledge of the art of calligraphy possessed by the unknown author. Ultimately, the Stone Eulogy embodies a vision of what the donors wished to claim they had achieved:not only had they succeeded in preserving and making accessible to all a precious Buddhist text (a deed for which they no doubt would receive karmic merit and the admiration of their community), but they had also presented the text to the world in calligraphy they were willing to claim sur­ passed in beauty that of any writing from the past.

MO U N T A I N W R I T I N G When the sutra donors asked Seng, an Daoyi to wield his “divine brush,Mthe monk faced the task of inscribing more than nine hundred large characters on the slope of Mt. Tie. Concerning the process of executing the writin'g,and that of carving the characters, the Stone Eulogy is silent. Physical evidence from the site and from other inscribed mountains provides some clues. Unlike the polished surface of a stele or that of a smoothed boulder or cliff onto which characters first written on sheets of paper can be traced, the granite surface of Mt. Tie was too rough to accommodate a transfer process (fig. 3.18). The writing must have been brushed directly on the stone by Seng’an Daoyi himself, perhaps with the help of assistants who had mastered his calligraphic style. Kneel­ ing or squatting on the mountain slope, using red pigment, ink, or, as Liu Tao has proposed, soot, Seng, an Daoyi might have written the sutra passage from memory, but it seems more likely that he or an assistant carried a copy of the text to the site.138 Whatever the method used, mistakes crept into the transcription. At the beginnings

of several columns, Seng’an Daoyi repeated characters that appear at the ends of the preceding columns. The longest of these repetitions comes at the top of column 7, where the characters rufa xing gu duplicate the four characters at the bottom of column 6.139 There is no way to be sure how these repetitions came about, but it is easy to imagine that they reflect pauses in the work of transcribing the text:after finishing a column of more than fifty large characters, Seng’an Daoyi surely needed a rest, overnight or for a longer period. When he returned to the mountain, he lost his place in the text, owing to a faulty notation that he or an assistant had made in the copy of the sutra used to guide his transcription or to his failure to check where he had left off work.140While a calligrapher writing a text on a portable scroll can easily scan the columns to catch possible omissions or repetitions, Seng’an Daoyi had to move his body, not just his eyes, as the transcription progressed. Not only are the overall dimensions of the characters on Mt. Tie monumen­ tal, but so are the individual strokes, ranging from five to ten centimeters in width. Although some scholars believe that these characters were written with large brushes, no brush would have been big enough to write the nearly meter-wide strokes of the “Great Vacuity King Buddha” that Seng’an Daoyi inscribed at Mt. Hongding. Liu Tao argues that the calligrapher used a different method, not only for the Mt. Hongding characters but for the big characters on Mt. Tie as well. In this method, the silhouettes of the strokes were outlined on the surface of the stone, perhaps by writing the characters first in thin strokes and then using these as “skeletons” around which broader silhouettes could be drawn.141 The method Liu proposes would have produced shapes much like those seen in the shuanggou process of copying calligraphy on paper, in which characters are carefully traced before being filled in with ink. Evidence that some kind of outlining technique was used for the sutra transcriptions comes from the unfinished characters that appear in the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai and at several other sites where the silhouettes of strokes were carved but, for unknown reasons, the interiors were never gouged out, leaving the outlines of the characters to endure across the centuries like the frame of an unfinished building (plate 14).142Not all outlined characters, however, should be judged unfinished. Since the Han dynasty, this technique had been used for ornamental effects in stone carvings, especially in the title headings of steles, as well as in manuscripts discovered at Dunhuang.143 On Mt. Tie itself, the three large characters that announce the title of the sutra, Dajijing, were produced in this way, and outlines of the “silk” radical of the character jing and the vertical stroke in the character ji are still visible on the mountain (fig. 3.19). On Mt. Tie, as on Mt. Tai and Mt. Ge, the placement of an inscription on a slope rather than on a vertical cliff facilitated access to the stone and made the con­ struction and ascent of scaffolding unnecessary;moreover, easy access to the slope

1 ^• ;

々戌汽辜眾彳信 •洩素是为怍办為 H 善硬 K•傭 g石足力净熳孓炙支石 t 力綠七兔私支石务?号作祠 .1



Fig. 3 .2 0 . Great C ollection Sutra. 4 9 2 . H a n d s c r o ll f r o m D u n h u a n g . In k o n p a p e r . K y o to N a t io n a l M u s e u m . P h o t o :SDZS, 5 :p i. 90.

Fig. 3 .2 1 . P a s s a g e f r o m t h e ManjusrT Sutra. U n d a te d , c a . 5 7 0 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le f r o m M t. S h u in iu , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 5 c m h ig h . W e n s h a n g , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :ZGSF, 1 2 :p i. 12.

scholars classify the calligraphy as zhenli,or “standard-clerical,” a label connoting the synthesis of elements from the two script types:the level horizontal strokes and blocky shapes derive from clerical script, while the generally taller proportions and spare use of flaring “wave” strokes are closer to standard script. But another element, like a secret ingredient in a recipe, is apparent in the writing :scattered throughout the sutra transcription are characters written with seal script forms (fig. 3.23). Moreover, the dominant visual effect of the writing is that of “centered-tip” (zhongfeng) brushwork, which was usually employed to write seal script characters (see fig. i.6). In this technique the brush is moved parallel to the writing surface with the full force of the hand and body to yield rounded, unmodulated lines. Produced through outlining that approximated the effect of zhongfeng brushwork, the strokes of the Mt. Tie characters are generally of uniform width, making them strikingly different from those in smaller formats of calligraphy and from the big writing at Mt. Linglong. Horizontal strokes, for example, formed with tapering silhouettes on the Mt. Shuiniu stele become, in the Mt. Tie calligraphy, blunt shapes of regular thickness (fig. 3.24). Although the calligraphy does display here and there flaring hooks and tapered endings that accent and articulate the strokes, Seng’an Daoyi

Fig. 3 .2 2 . A t t r i b u t e d t o Z h e n g D a o z h a o (d . 5 1 6 ) ,M r. Zhongyue o f Xingyang. U n d a te d , c a . 511. In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e in s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 35 c m h ig h . M t. L in g lo n g , Q in g z h o u , S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g S to n e C a r v in g A r t M u s e u m , J i’ n a n . P h o t o :A u th o r .

distributed visual weight evenly throughout the characters, as if they all were in seal script. In many characters the individual elements are widely and asymmetri­ cally spaced, creating a dynamic tension between the coherence of the compositions and the centripetal expansion of their parts. Lai Fei and other scholars have argued that the monk’s distinctive writing resulted from a concession to the difficulties of carving characters on intractable granite. Unlike the finer limestone of the Xiangtangshan Caves and of other cave chapels in Henan and Hebei, the coarse surfaces of the mountains in central and southern Shandong were not amenable to reproducing subtle details of brushwork.149Rather than placing small, finely executed strokes on the mountains, donors and calligraphers in Shandong, adapting to the geology of this area, favored large characters of simplified brushwork and design. This argument, like all arguments that force art historians to pay close attention to the materials of art, makes sense, but the variety of scale and styles found among inscriptions in Shandong, both on limestone and on granite, suggests that geology was not destiny, at least in terms of

what calligraphers and carvers could achieve. The largest of all writing from the sixth century is not on granite but on limestone, at Mt. Hongding: the four-character name “Great Vacuity King Buddha” written by Seng’an Daoyi. Also at Mt. Hongding we find sutra passages from his hand in characters up to fifty-one centimeters high.150 The limestone cliffs on which this writing was placed could have been polished to receive small characters, but the inscriptions that actually were carved must have conformed to the wishes of the donors:they wanted big characters and they got them. At Mt. Gang, on the other hand, we find evidence that untreated granite could yield to the calligrapher’s and the carver’s desire to produce fine details like those

Fig. 3 .2 3 . T h e c h a r a c t e r s w e / ( t o s t a t e ) , xin g ( n a t u r e ) , le c tio n Sutra. 579 . D e t a ils o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 50 c m h ig h . M t. T ie , Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g S to n e C a r v in g A r t M u s e u m , J i ,n a n . P h o t o : ZGSF, 1 2 :p i. 2 6.

Fig. 3 .2 4 . T h e c h a r a c t e r s p u ti f r o m t h e ManjusrT Sutra s te le f r o m M t. S h u in iu Q eft) a n d f r o m t h e Great C ollection Sutra o n M t. T ie {rig h t). D e t a ils o f in k r u b ­ b in g s . P h o to :ZGSF, 12: p is . 1 2 ,2 6.

Fig. 3 .2 5 . P a s s a g e f r o m t h e Lankavatara Sutra. U n d a te d , c a . 5 8 0 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n , e a c h c h a r a c t e r c a . 4 0 c m h ig h . M t. G a n g , Z o u C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g S to n e A r t C a r v in g M u s e u m , J i’ n a n . P h o to :A u th o r .

seen in small-scale epigraphy on limestone. Although they are carved on rough, unpolished boulders, characters of thirty to forty centimeters in height from the Lankavatara Sutra display thickening and thinning silhouettes, sharply defined changes of brush direction, and complex notched endings of diagonal strokes (fig. 3.25). The resulting effect is somewhat stiff and awkward, but these defects cannot be attributed solely to the difficulty of carving untreated granite. Although the carv­ ers may have struggled with the material, they appear to have faithfully reproduced the original motions of the calligrapher’s brush writing directly on the stone.151 Su Shi (1037-1101) once commented that the difficulty of writing big charac­ ters lies in making them seem compact, while the difficulty of writing small char­ acters lies in making them seem spacious.152 Kang Youwei, on the other hand, criticized Su Shi’s concept of big writing and praised the spaciousness of the char­ acters in the sutra transcription on Mt. Tai. What Seng’an Daoyi achieved there (assuming he was the calligrapher or that it was the work of someone who knew his style well), as on Mt. Tie, was a dynamic balance between the two visual effects: the large characters expand generously across the slopes of the mountains, but the

composition of each remains integrated and coherent. Like the gestures of everyday life amplified and stylized onstage to “project” to an audience, the large sutra char­ acters on Mt. Tie are bold and clear. But it was not only their scale and their unusual design that set them apart from other forms of writing :the format in which the sutra was presented to viewers created another source of wonder and another source of merit and pride for the donors.

T H E V I R T U A L S T E L E A N D T H E P A R A D O X E S OF S C A L E There is no objective standard by which to assess the claim that the characters written by Seng’an Daoyi and carved on Mt. Tie surpassed in beauty those of Wang Xizhi and the other masters with whom the monk is so favorably compared in the Stone Eulogy; nor do we know what features of his calligraphy were judged to be “like a dragon coiling in the mist, / like a phoenix leaping in the rosy clouds.” There is, however, one fact about the carved sutra that can be asserted without hesitation: this is big writing. It looks big to modern viewers and it undoubtedly looked big to those who saw the freshly completed characters in the sixth century. Among earlier works of epigraphy, the two characters reading “Stone Gate” inside the tun­ nel on the Bao-Xie Road in Shaanxi and the short inscription attributed to Zheng Daozhao on Mt. Linglong in Shandong approached the size of the characters of the sutra, but these were rare examples of writing on such a scale. Characters brushed on plaques or signs mounted on buildings in early China, of which we have no surviving examples, might have been nearly as large, but the texts on these objects probably did not exceed three or four characters in length.153 Had the donors done nothing more than pay to have the sutra passage carved on Mt. Tie, the sight of the huge characters extending up the slope would have cre­ ated a sense of awe in any who saw the inscription. Even viewers who were illiterate would have recognized that the scale of the writing was unusual.154But the donors had grander ambitions. Following a passage stating their intention to “pass down these excellent phrases,” Stone Eulogy describes the donors, decision to fix the stone by depicting a stele, making brilliant its ordinary sub­ stance. Six dragons encircle it above, their mouths glowing with fivecolored [missing graph] clouds;double tortoises are entwined below, their carapaces supporting the path of the three steps.155 (3O) In spite of this clue, it was not until 1986, during an on-site inspection by researchers from the Shandong Stone Carving Art Museum, that the images of dragons at the top

of the sutra text and the pair of tortoises below were discovered.156Carved in shallow lines now badly eroded, the dragons and the three-character title of the sutra, carved in double outlines, were partially destroyed when a path was cut across them in 1982, and only part of the body of the tortoise on the east side of the base remains faintly legible. What the carving of these designs produced, “making brilliant” the surface of the stone, was a two-dimensional representation of a colossal stele (fig. 3.26). The total height of the stele depicted on the mountain, including the double-tortoise base, sutra text, and heading framed by dragons and clouds, was slightly over fifty-five meters. Resting on the back of a giant tortoise and capped by intertwined dragons, a stele erected at a temple or tomb signified the importance of the carved text on its

Fig. 3 .2 6 . R e c o n s tr u c tio n o f t h e ltv i r t u a l s t e l e ” o n M t. T ie . C o u r te s y o f J u lie t C h o u a n d P ila r P e te r s .

Fig. 3 .2 7 . D e d ic a t o r y in s c r ip t io n (za oxiangji) in t h e f o r m o f a s te le f o r a n im a g e d e d ic a t e d b y S un Q iu s h e n g a n d o t h e r s . 5 0 2 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n . G u y a n g C a v e , L o n g m e n , H e n a n . P h o t o :L iu J in lo n g , Longmen ershi pin , 33.

surface.157 In the late fifth century and early sixth century, the stele, a product of Chinese culture that predated the spread of Buddhism, was adapted for new uses w ithin the visual culture of the imported religion.158 In addition to serving as a support of figurative icons, the stele also was used for the texts of “records of mak­ ing images.” Carved into the walls of the cave chapels at Longmen, texts appear w ithin rectangular panels topped by dragons and framed by incised borders that set the writing apart from the surfaces of the surrounding images and decor (fig. 3.27).159 The inscribed panels focus the attention of the view er and confer on the

contents of the dedications an aura of prestige and authority that had come to be associated with the stele. This format was used also for the Stele of Tang Yong at Xiangtangshan, which rests on a tortoise base carved in relief and is topped by small images of seated Buddhas.160 Around the same time that sutras began to be carved on cliffs and cave walls in northern China, sutra passages were carved also on freestanding steles. The best preserved is the stele bearing a passage from the Manjusn Sutra that once stood on Mt. Shuiniu, probably carved in the 560s.161This monument presages the format of the Mt. Tie sutra transcription, but the transformation of a sutra-bearing stele into a moya carving took place first at Mt. Hongding. There, on the same cliff as the mas­ sive carved name “Great Vacuity King Buddha” written by Seng’an Daoyi, a passage from the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra was begun but never finished in a grid covering 7.5 x 3.4 meters (fig. 3.28). Above the grid, incised lines define the bodies of dragons, while below a tortoise glares at the viewer. The result is a two-dimensional image, a “virtual stele” like that executed on a far grander scale at Mt. Tie in 579. Perhaps it was Seng’an Daoyi himself, after leaving the area of Mt. Hongding to work in Zou County, who suggested to the Mt. Tie donors the idea of framing the sutra passage he transcribed w ithin a representation of a giant stele. Whoever pro­ posed the idea had a vivid imagination, for no one had ever seen (or ever would see) a freestanding stele that tall.162Only on the side of a mountain could such a colossus be depicted. Just as contemporary viewers would have perceived the scale of the characters on Mt. Tie through comparison with other forms of writing, their response to the spectacle of the virtual stele would have been shaped by their aware­ ness of other text-bearing monuments carved in Shandong between the Han and the Northern Qi dynasties. It is difficult to calculate what the size of an “average” stele might have been, but examples such as Stele ofHeng Fang,dated 168 (2.31 x 1.45 meters), Stele ofZheng Wengong, dated 511 (4.77 x 1.45 meters), and the stele com­ memorating maigre feasts carved at fuye in 564 (2.90 x 0.88 meters) give some idea of the scale of both freestanding steles and moya inscriptions accessible to sixthcentury viewers in Shandong (fig. 3.29). In comparison with these monuments, the Mt. Tie stele was a breathtaking sight.

Fig. 3 .2 8 . P a s s a g e f r o m t h e Great P erfection o f Wisdom Sutra in t h e f o r m o f a s te le . U n d a te d , c a . 5 6 4 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n , 7 5 5 x 3 4 0 c m . M t. H o n g d in g , D o n g p in g C o u n ty , S h a n d o n g . S h a n d o n g S to n e C a rv in g A r t M u s e u m , J i ,n a n . P h o to :A u th o r .

The prim ary function of a stele, w hat­ ever its scale, is to present a text to a viewer. But

the great stele depicted on Mt. Tie confronts a reader w ith a paradoxical phenomenon :here is

big writing that is very hard to read. Like the Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai or the passage from the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra on Mt. Ge, the sutra on Mt. Tie cannot be read from a single position in space. From the bottom of the slope, a viewer can barely see the characters at the top. Unlike short texts carved on a vertical wall of rock, such as the passage from the Manjusri Sutra on Mt. Culai, which can be read in its entirety by a person standing no more than a meter from the w riting surface, the characters

on Mt. Tie deny easy visual access. To actually see the stele and read the text, one has to move. It is possible to argue, of course, that the donors never intended the sutra to be read, and the slope of the mountain is so steep that anyone attempting to walk up its face must do so with considerable caution.163 But the aisle between

Fig. 3 .2 9 . D ia g r a m o f r e la t iv e s iz e s o f s te le s .

columns 8 and 9 of the text invites ascent. Sim­

F ro m l e f t t o r ig h t : Stele o f Heng Fang, d a t e d

ilar aisles on Mt. Tai and Mt. Ge show that the

1 6 8 , 231 x 145 c m ; Stele o f Zheng Wengong, d a t e d 511 , 4 7 7 x 145 c m ; l'H u ayan>} Stele,

donors of these inscriptions also expected read­

d a te d 564 , 290 x 88 c m

ers to walk on the surfaces where the sutras

d a t e d 5 7 9 , 5 5 .7 5 x 1 5 .3 1 m . C o u r te s y o f J u lie t

were carved.

C h o u a n d P ila r P e te r s .


i r t u a l s te le o n M t. T ie ,

Any who do venture up the slope of Mt. Tie to read the characters discover that it is easy to become lost in the text, both literally and metaphorically. I believe this is what happened to Huang Yi, whose account of his visit to Mt. Tie was quoted at the beginning of this chapter. As we saw, Huang was confused by the scale of the inscription, mistakenly recalling the location of the big characters that announce the title of the Stone Eulogy. But it was not only readers who became confused by the gigantic scale of the writing. The calligrapher, Seng’an Daoyi, also got lost. As noted earlier, at the beginnings of several columns characters that appear at the ends of the preceding columns were inadvertently repeated. The monk’s errors in transcribing the sutra, like Huang Yi’s memory slip, can be attributed to the same phenomenon :both the writer and the reader were befuddled by the scale of the writing.164

The closer the reader gets to the characters, the harder it is to grasp the dimen­ sions of the entire inscription. This paradox recalls Immanuel Kant’s discussion of viewing the Pyramids. He observed that if one gets close enough to discern the individual tiers of stone, apprehension of the vastness of the entire structure is lost.165 But the option of remaining at a distance, open to a tourist viewing the Pyramids who may not care to inspect the individual stones, is not available to the would-be reader of the inscription on Mt. Tie:if we want to read the text, we must move close enough to the granite surface of the mountain to see the characters. In so doing, we submit to the scale and to the layout of the text, which sends us down the slope to read one column and then draws us back up to begin the next. As we move up and down the slope, our eyes scan only a few characters at a time, losing sight of the overall length of the columns. It is just too much to take in. The disori­ entation that can result from trying to read a text of this scale is like that of a person entering St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time, as imagined by Kant:“For here a feel­ ing comes home to him of the inadequacy of his imagination for presenting the idea of a whole w ithin which that imagination attains its maximum, and, in its fruitless efforts to extend this limit, recoils upon itself, but in so doing succumbs to an emo­ tional delight.”166

Fig. 3 .3 0 . T e m p le o f R a m s e s II. T h ir t e e n t h c e n t u r y B.C .E. H e ig h t o f e a c h f ig u r e c a . 20 m . A b u S im b e l, E g y p t. P h o to : C o u r te s y o f W a d e G u p ta .

TH E MONUMENTAL AND THE IM M E A S U R A B L E The virtual stele on Mt. Tie is big, but how big is big? It is from Zhuangzi that we learn the relativity of all judgments of size. When we compare “the area within the four seas with all that is between heaven and earth— is it not like one little anthill in a vast marsh?” Or when we “compare the Middle Kingdom with the area within the four seas— is it not like one tiny grain in a great storehouse?”167As we have seen, there was no writing in China from before the sixth century that could compare in size with the great sutra inscriptions in Shandong. It is not in the history of writing but in the history of Buddhist sculpture in China that we discover a parallel fascina­ tion with vastness and monumentality that may help illuminate the significance of the carved sutras and the effects they produced in the minds of viewers. Until recently, knowledge of sculpture in ancient China was based primarily on small figurines and representations of animals and mythological creatures, most only a few centimeters high. In 1986 the discovery, at Sanxingdui in Sichuan, of a standing bronze figure, 1.72 meters in height, and dozens of large bronze heads proved decisively that life-sized or larger-than-life-sized figurative sculpture was produced in China during the Bronze Age.168 From between the time these objects were cast u n til the third century b.c.e., however, we have no evidence that religious

beliefs or political ideology inspired the production of large representational images in China. Although future discoveries may continue to overturn earlier assumptions, the absence of colossal images from the archaeological and historical record of ancient China contrasts dramatically with the abundance of monumental statues from other civilizations. An incomplete inventory of such works would include the four colossi, each twenty meters high, at the Temple of Ramses II in Egypt dating from the thirteenth century b.c.e. (fig. 3.30);the storied Colossus of Rhodes, cast in bronze between 292 and 280 b.c.e. and said to have stood 30.5 meters high ;and the

huge stone heads of the Olmec culture in Mexico dating from ca. 900 to 400 b.c.e. In 221 b .c . e . the First Emperor of Qin, who never thought small, willed into existence what appear to have been the largest works of sculpture ever seen in ancient China. He commanded that twelve giant figures be cast in bronze to signify the unification of his empire.169 These figures, represented in barbarian clothing, were said to have been from three to four times life-size. Credited with supernatu­ ral manifestations, including growing hair, the statues were inherited by the Han dynasty and stood in the capital at Chang’an until being melted down for coinage. The most ambitious sculptural undertaking of the Qin, of course, was the army made up of thousands of terra-cotta warriors manufactured to guard the tomb of the First Emperor. Each figure is life-sized or slightly larger. As Lothar Ledderose has shown, the mass production of the soldiers depended on the use of prefabricated

modules and assembly techniques that anticipated the organization of modern factories.170 Here, vastness of scale was achieved through the sheer numbers of individual units rather than through the absolute size of a single, colossal image such as those produced in Egypt and other ancient civilizations. During the Han dynasty, large stone and bronze images were placed in gar­ dens or imperial parks to evoke, and possibly lure to earth, supernatural beings whom Emperor W u and other rulers hoped to meet. A pair of stone figures discov­ an ,2.58 and 2.28 meters tall, may be representations of the mythic Herds­ ered in Xi , man and Weaving Maiden carved for Emperor W u, s Shanglin Park.171 Big statues of figures and animals, both real and mythic, also stood at Han dynasty tombs.172 While bans on elaborate steles and carved figures limited the production of aboveg­ round tomb sculpture during the fourth and fifth centuries in northern China, in the south, in the vicinity of Nanjing, massive stone beasts, some more than three meters high, guarded the tombs of rulers of the Southern Dynasties and their families.173 However imposing these figures and beasts may have been in the eyes of contemporary viewers, no statues carved or cast in earlier periods approached the scale of the colossal Buddhist images that began to appear in China in the fifth century, most spectacularly at the Yungang Caves (fig. 3.31). Work at Yungang began in the 460s when Emperor Wencheng (r. 452-465), acting on the advice of the monk Tanyao (ca. 410-ca. 486), initiated the carving of several huge images from the face of a sandstone cliff near the Northern Wei capital. At 16.48 meters in height, the tallest figure, the seated Buddha in cave 19, greatly surpassed the scale of any statue produced in China before this time. According to an account of the caves in the Wei History,“the sculptured embellishments in their originality and great scale were unique in the w orld., , 174Although scholars have attempted to find Indian or Central Asian precedents for these colossi, the connection between the great Buddhas at Yungang and prototypes outside China awaits clarification.175 W hat is certain is that knowledge of the mighty figures cut from rock soon spread to southern China, where the Prince of Jingling of the Southern Qi listed the caves as one of the great sites of the Buddhist world.176 Donors in the south also supported the carving of Buddhist images that rivaled the scale of the imperially sponsored images at Yun­ gang. In the late fifth century a man named Ming Zhongzhang, carrying out a wish expressed by his father, collaborated with the monk Fadu to carve an image of Amitayus and two bodhisattvas at the Qixia Temple outside Nanjing. The central figure was 7.7 meters tall, and the two attendant deities were each 7.4 meters tall.177 A colossal Buddha and attendant standing figures at Yanxian in Zhejiang, said to have been 12.2 and 24.5 meters high, were completed in 516 under the supervision of the monk-engineer Sengyou.178

Fig. 3 .3 1 . S e a te d B u d d h a . U n d a te d , c a . 4 6 7 . S a n d s to n e . 1 3 .4 4 m h ig h . C ave 2 0, y u n g a n g , D a to n g , S h a n x i. P h o to : C o u r te s y o f S ta n le y A b e .

Back in northern China, on a mountain west of Jinyang in Shanxi, the North­ ern Qi emperor Houzhu commissioned the colossal Buddha west of Jinyang men­ tioned earlier.179 Among extant and recorded Buddhist colossi, the one closest in date and in scale to the monumental sutra inscriptions of Shandong appears on a cliff at Lashao Temple in Gansu (fig. 3.32). Rising more than thirty-five meters, the image represents the seated Sakyamuni Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas. The figures were carved in low relief and then covered with a layer of clay;the paint visible today dates from modern restorations, but the polychrome on the massive figures likely approximates the original appearance of the monument. According to an inscription written in ink below the image, it was dedicated in 559 by Weichi Jiong, a Northern Zhou general, and by the monk Daocheng in the hope of achiev­ ing “peace in the world, calm and joy w ithin the four seas [two missing graphs] as long-lasting as heaven and earth, universal blessings as eternal as the sun and m oon., ’180 Like the carved sutra on Mt. Tie, which invites a reader to draw close to the characters even as its scale defeats attempts to make sense of the text, giant images

Fig. 3 .3 2 . S a k y a m u n i a n d a t t e n d a n t b o d h is a t t v a s . 5 59. R e lie f c a r v in g , h e ig h t o f s e a t e d fig u r e c a . 35 m . L a s h a o s i, W u s h a n , G a n s u . P h o to :Z h a n g B a o x i, Gansu s h ik u y is h u , 161.

both attract and repel the viewer. Echoing Kant’s discussion of viewing the Pyra­ mids, the critic Michael Fried once pointed out that, the larger an object is, “the more we are forced to keep our distance from it., ’181The more readily visible from a distance an image may be, the more insistently it forces from its immediate presence any who desire to see it whole, its great scale demanding a more distant vantage point. This is why, for example, that in order to seethe four representations of Ramses II a viewer must retreat to a point well distant from the monument. To be seen whole, the images cannot be touched. The distancing effect of colossal images, while reveal­ ing their great size, situates them in a public, nonpersonal domain transcending everyday human concerns, literally and metaphorically larger than life.182 The creators of some colossal images never expected them to be seen from a distance. This is true of the giant Yungang Buddhas. Originally, each figure was enclosed in a cave chapel penetrated by small doors and windows. Timber framed buildings that ran along the sandstone cliff from which the caves and the statues were excavated further concealed the images. The much-photographed spectacle of the giant Buddha of cave 20 gazing out over the landscape is misleading, owing to the collapse of the front wall of the cave and to the absence of the original build­ ings through which the images were reached. The effect of entering the cave

chapel was dramatic :forced by the architectural space to view the statue at close range, visitors were confronted by the brightly painted colossus looming directly over their heads. The incompleteness of the view produced another paradox:it was because the carved deities could not be seen in their entirety that they seemed even larger than they are. How did the colossal scale of the Buddhas or the colossal sutra transcriptions convey meaning? Few critics or art historians have written about the role of scale in the visual arts, perhaps because its significance appears to be grasped so effort­ lessly.183 This is especially true of very large forms in two or three dimensions. Although magnification of an object can produce laughter or bewilderment, as in the case of the giant electric plugs and other mundane objects blown up to monumen­ tal proportions by Claes Oldenburg in our own day, the principal effect of a massive form is to inspire a sense of wonder. Even without knowledge of the cultures that produced them, a viewer of colossal monuments senses that in addition to whatever other meanings they were intended to convey, they, and the people who had them made, were important. Giantism functions as what Robert Hodge and Gunther Kress have called a “transparent signifier of power, a crucial social category., ’184 W ithin the context of medieval Chinese Buddhism, big images, or texts, glorified the deities and beliefs they embodied, and they generated, we assume, large volumes of merit for the donors. But why was it Buddhism, rather than other religious or ideological systems, that inspired the largest images, and the largest writing, produced in medieval China? (It was, after all, sutras, not the Analects, that were emblazoned on moun­ tains.) A fully convincing response to this question may not be possible. Should a satisfactory answer someday be formulated, it will have to take into account certain ideas about scale that are central to Buddhist thought. Again and again, in scriptures well known to medieval Chinese Buddhists, we find passages that evoke the immea­ surable, the illimitable, and the ungraspable.185In a passage from the Diamond Sutra carved on Mt. Tai, the Buddha poses the following question to his disciple Subhuti: “What do you think? If a son or daughter of a good family should fill the three thousand chiliocosms with the seven precious treasures and give them as a gift to the Tathagatas, would not the merit thus obtained be great?, , 186The chiliocosm is a galactic system consisting of either one billion or one trillion worlds. Multiplied by three thousand, the chiliocosm expands to an order of vastness no mind can grasp. In Buddhist thought, “the use of these incomprehensible numbers is meant to tran­ scend the limitations of boundaries created by ordinary thinking.”187 The Lotus Sutra is perhaps the supreme storehouse of Buddhist conceptions of vastness, embodied in recurring citations of immense numbers. A vivid example appears at the opening of chapter n , “Apparition of the Jeweled Stupa”: “At that

time, there appeared before the Buddha a seven-jeweled stupa, five hundred yojanas (a unit of several miles) in height and fifty yojanas in breadth___It had five thousand banisters, a thousand myriads of grotto-like rooms, and numberless banners to adorn it.”188The miraculous structure hovering above Mt. Grdhrakuta encloses the Buddha of the Past, Prabhutaratna, who has come to hear Sakyamuni preach the Lotus Sutra. Before rising into the sky to open the stupa and reveal the deity seated within, Sakyamuni produces glowing emanations that reached “Buddhas of lands equal in number to the sands of a hundred thousand myriads of millions of Ganges Rivers., , 189 The apparition of the jeweled stupa and the paired Buddhas seated together inside became one of the most popular motifs in all Buddhist art.190 It is, however, only one of many grand set pieces in the Lotus Sutra, in which almost every chapter begins or ends with a vision of cosmic proportions focusing on stupefying manifestations of giant beings or structures.191 Buddhist meditation practices and visualization techniques place staggering demands on the imagination. In the directed meditations prescribed for Queen Vaidehl in the Sutra on Visualization ofthe Buddha ofInfinite Life (Guan wuliangshoufo jing), Sakyamuni instructs the queen to envision the body of Amitayus : His height is six hundred thousand kotis (millions) of nayutas of yoja­ nas multiplied by the number of the sands of the Ganges. The white tuft of hair curling to the right between his eyebrows is five times as big as Mt. Sumeru. His eyes are clear and as broad as the four great oceans;their blue irises and whites are distinct. From all the pores of his body issues forth a flood of light as magnificent as Mt. Sumeru. His aureole is as broad as a hundred kotis of universes, each containing three thousand chiliocosms.192 Amitayus is big. Attempting to visualize this deity aids believers in drawing close to his Western Paradise, but the effort to grasp the limitless extent of the Buddha's body stretches the imagination to the breaking point. The sutra transcription on Mt. Tie is not limitless, but for a reader moving amid this sea of writing, which confounds normal processes of reading, the carved text, like the meditation on Amitayus, engages the mind in an effort to grasp something too big to comprehend. No inscription could approach the dimensions of the deities described in the sutras, but writing spread across the surface of a mountain can be interpreted as a visual analogy for the universal efficacy of the Buddha’s words. Contemplating a landscape transformed by carved sutras, the late Qing dynasty scholar and biblio­ phile Gu Huang (jinshi degree, 1876) wrote:

[Gazed at] from afar, among the serried peaks and ranked hills, large moya characters appear scattered beneath the heights. All of them are Buddhist sutras-- [Seeing these] one then understands the vastness of the Buddhist law, without measure and without limit, the numinous texts of the Tripitaka spread throughout the universe of 3,000 chiliocosms/93 (3P) Had a viewer spoken of the inscription on Mt. Tie in the same terms, the pious donors and the calligrapher-monk who wrote the characters almost certainly would have been pleased. Whatever their goals and aspirations in creating the carved text, it was the underlying cosmology of their religion, permeated by concepts of vastness, that taught them to think big.

C h a p t e r Four

Im p e ria l W ritin g a n d t h e A s c e n t o f M o u n t Tai Mt. Tai, the most revered of China’s Five Sacred Mountains, rises 1,545 meters above the plains of central Shandong.1 To anyone looking upward from the base of the mountain, its summit seems an impossibly remote goal. Climbers who persevere, toiling up the steps and terraces known as the Eighteen Bends in the final and steepest part of the journey, eventually reach an expanse of level ground, east of the Southern Gate of Heaven and just below the highest point on the mountain. From this site a majestic view to the south encompasses the city of Tai, an and the plains beyond. To the north of this stagelike plateau rises a sheer escarpment known as Great Vista Peak (Daguan feng) (plate 15). The irregular, pitted surface of this wall of granite is covered with large characters, most of them short phrases carved during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The longest inscription visible on the cliff is also the oldest— Inscription for the Record ofML Tai (Ji Taishan ming), composed by the Tang emperor Xuanzong and carved in the year 726. Displayed on the summit ofMt. Tai to commemorate his performance of the feng and shan sacrifices, the emperor’s inscription consists of a prose introduction and a long sequence of tetrasyllable verses. In the archaic cadences and classical allusions of this ritual text, Xuanzong addressed deities of heaven and earth and the spirits of his own ancestors. The intended readership of the inscription also included all future visitors who would ascend the mountain. The ornate language of Xuanzong’s text is only one of the vehicles through which it conveys meaning. Like that of the inscriptions studied in the preceding chapters, the location of the writing is a powerful determinant of its significance. Reached only after an arduous pilgrimage to the summit of Mt. Tai, the inscription addresses a reader at what is arguably the most sacred site in the entire cultural geography of China, the scene of the feng sacrifice and the location also of texts placed on the mountain by Xuanzong’s imperial predecessors. In addition to its

position in space, the great scale of the writing also reflects the exalted status of its patron. Looming 17.1 meters above the level ground in front of Great Vista Peak, the inscription, like the Buddhist sutra carved on Mt. Tie, dwarfs any who come into its presence. But unlike the sutra, the emperor’s words on Mt. Tai are emblazoned on a highly polished granite surface, clearly the product of an immense expenditure of labor. Inlaid gold pigment ornamenting each of the 1,008 characters further enhances their magnificence— the costliness of the gold, like the quality of the workmanship, a sign of the vast resources required to produce the monument. The location, scale, and lavish material of the inscription guarantee-that even viewers who cannot read a word of the text or know nothing of writing as a fine art grasp its importance. For those who can read it, the announcement at the beginning of the text proclaiming that it was “imperially composed and imperially transcribed” (yuzhi yushu) gives additional cause to be awed by the towering wall of writing :the words and the calligraphy in which they are presented are those of the Son of Heaven himself. Beyond this, a reader familiar with calligraphy at the Tang dynasty court recognizes as the product of Xuanzong's own hand the archaistic clerical script used for the carved characters, the unusual style of calligraphy sig­ nifying that, in addition to composing the text, the emperor directly fashioned its visual form. Like coins bearing images of rulers in Mediterranean cultures— a form of political representation unknown in China— imperial inscriptions in public spaces were signifiers of unseen but unchallengeable power. When a text appeared in an emperor's own hand, the aura of his presence was overwhelming, confronting his subjects with an experience analogous to that of hearing a text read in the emperor’s own voice. An invention of Xuanzong’s great-grandfather, Emperor Taizong (r. 626649), imperial autographic monuments enabled Chinese rulers to leave their marks, quite literally, on the physical and the cultural geography of their domains. Though common in later centuries, the display of imperially composed and inscribed texts that appeared first during the Tang dynasty constituted a profound transformation of the relationship between the ruler and writing in ancient China. Mark Edward Lewis notes that, before the Tang dynasty, “although the ruler was the font of author­ ity in writings, he was not their author. Instead, he was cast in the role of listener or reader.”2Tang imperial inscriptions demonstrated that the emperor was not only the foremost reader but also the foremost producer of writing in China. No site for the presentation of imperial writing was as charged with ritual and ideological significance as Mt. Tai. As we w ill see in chapter 5, even the collapse of the imperial system in the early twentieth century has not weakened the compulsion of China’s leaders to leave traces of their brushwork on this sacred peak.

T H 8 E M P E R O R S P R O G R E S S A N D W R I T I N G ON MT. TAI The belief that the slopes of Mt. Tai are permeated by numinous forces of nature may have taken shape as early as the Neolithic period, as some have argued on the basis of scattered archaeological evidence.3There is no doubt, however, that by the Zhou dynasty the mountain had become the focus of a rich mythology in which sage-kings of the remote past traveled to Mt. Tai to make offerings to Heaven and to the spirits of mountains and rivers. Ancient notions that the mountain was a point at which earthly rulers could enter into communion with potent deities and w ith the spirits of their own ancestors coalesced in the late Bronze Age in the codification of thefeng and shan sacrifices.4The objects, ritual acts, and prayers used in the sacrifices varied on each occasion that they were performed, but the comple­ mentary spatial relationship between them remained the same:the site of thefeng sacrifice, dedicated to Heaven, was on the summit of Mt. Tai;the shan, dedicated to Earth, was conducted at Liangfu or on other small hills near the base of the princi­ pal mountain.5The titles of the deities honored in the sacrifices changed over time. By the Tang dynasty, Heaven was identified as “the Supreme Lord on High” (Haotian shangdi), and Earth bore the title “Imperial Deity of the Earth” (Huangdi qi). Begin­ ning in the Han dynasty, from which we have the most detailed early accounts, the emperor ascended specially constructed altars of earth and stone to present meat, wine, jades, silks, and other offerings to the two principal deities and to imperial ancestors invoked as pei, or “associated deities,” who were called upon to facilitate communication between the emperor and the realm of spirits. The sacrifices included the recitation of ritual prayers, the carving of texts on steles, and the sealing and burial of inscribed tablets of jade or other fine stone bearing the ruler’s announce­ ments to Heaven and Earth. Much of the prestige and ritual gravity of the sacrifices lay in their rarity: only six rulers succeeded in performing them at Mt. Tai. The mystique of thefeng and shan was increased by the obscurity of their origins, which are traced by Sima Q ia n in c h a p te r 28 o f t h e

Historical Records.6A s e v id e n c e fo r th e h is t o r y o f th e sa c­

r ific e s , S im a q u o te s a p a s s a g e fr o m th e

Guanzi, a t e x t k n o w n to d a y t h r o u g h a c o m ­

p ila t io n o f th e fir s t c e n t u r y b . c . e . t h a t d r a w s o n v a r io u s e a r lie r s o u rc e s . In t h is p a s s a g e , th e w is e m in is t e r G u a n Z h o n g (d. 645 b .c .e . ) a tte m p ts to c o n v in c e D u k e

Huan of Qi (r. 685-643 b . c . e .) to abandon his hopes of conducting the sacrifices in the absence of political achievements or supernatural omens that would have signi­ fied his worthiness.7The rhetorical force of Guan Zhong’s arguments presaged those recorded in later accounts of ministers who cautioned rulers about undertaking the sacrifices without fully meriting the honor;so persistent is this theme of an adviser questioning the worthiness of a ruler, or the ruler himself expressing his own

Fig. 4 .1 . F r a g m e n t o f r e c u t t i n g o f a n in s c r ip t io n a d d e d in 209 B .C .6 . t o t h e s to n e e r e c t e d o n M t. T a i b y t h e F ir s t E m p e ro r o f Q in in 219 B.C .E. T e m p le o f M t. T a i, Taiwan, S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C o u r te s y o f C he n L i- w e i.

doubts, that discussions of reasons not to perform the feng and shan sacrifices are as plentiful as arguments for doing so preserved in historical sources. Guan Zhong claimed that the sacrifices had been conducted in antiquity by seventy-two rulers, though this figure, symbolic of completeness, appears to have been determined by numerology rather than by historical fact.8Whatever the ori­ gins of the feng and shan sacrifices may have been, their role as documentable events in the history of imperial China begins, appropriately, with the First Emperor of Qin. In 219 b .c . e ., two years after achieving his great feat of unifying China into a centrally administered empire, the emperor began a series of inspection tours of his new domains. These journeys were patterned on those of the mythic sage-king Shun described in the Book ofDocuments (Shangshu).9In addition to his mighty deeds of regulating the calendar, bringing uniformity to pitch pipes used in ritual music, and establishing standards for weights and measures— feats also emulated by the First E m p ero rS hu n made tours of inspection that took him to Mt. Tai, where he offered a ritual sacrifice, and to other mountains and rivers, where he conducted similar rites. The eastern tours of the First Emperor demonstrated his sovereignty through the spectacle of the imperial entourage passing across the topography of his empire.

But the emperor did more than simply roam about:he permanently transformed the places he visited by leaving behind traces of his presence in the form of carved monuments, imprinting on the landscapes he now controlled durable signs of his jurisdiction and authority.10 In addition to visiting Mt. Tai, the emperor traveled to five other mountains in eastern China and commanded that stones inscribed w ith hymns celebrating his achievements be erected at each of these sites.11 Additional texts were added to these stones by his son, the Second Emperor of Qin (r. 209-208 b.c .e.), during his own inspection tours. When the scholar and anti­ quarian Liu Qi (jinshi degree, 1079) visited Mt. Tai in 1108, he found the Qin stone, about one and a half meters in height, embedded in the ground on the summit near Jade Maiden Pool.12 Unlike finely polished steles of later periods, the stone was an irregular, roughly finished boulder. The four sides, of unequal width, all bore carved characters. This format required a reader to move clockwise, starting on the west side of the stone, in order to follow the texts. Unfortunately, the inscriptions carved on Mt. Tai and on the other mountains during the time of the First Emperor have completely disappeared, and extant rubbings allegedly taken from the original stones are based on facsimile recuttings of uncertain reliability. Only fragments of the stones carved at the command of the Second Emperor survive.13 These display characters in small seal script (xiao zhuan), the form of writing believed to have been mandated for official use throughout the Qin empire (fig. 4.1). Unlike characters in large seal script (da zhuan) seen in earlier bronze inscriptions or on the Stone Drums, those in small seal script are of uniform size, regardless of the number of strokes they contain, and are composed to fit into an imaginary grid.14 Since the fifth cen­ tury c . e . both the texts and the calligraphy of the carved stone on Mt. Tai and those at the other sites visited by the First Emperor have been attributed to the prime minister Li Si (d. 208 b . c . e .), but there is no earlier authority for this belief.15 Although the original stones were lost, the texts of the stele hymns honoring the First Emperor were recorded in the Historical Records. In Martin Kern’s transla­ tion, the opening lines of the inscription on Mt. Tai read: The August Thearch assumed his position, Created regulations and illuminated the laws; The officials below [received their correct] insignia and order. In his twenty-sixth year He first unified All under Heaven— — There was none who was not respectful and submissive. He personally tours to the distant multitudes, Ascends this Grand Mountain And all around surveys the [world at the] eastern extremity.16(4A)

Fig. 4 .2 . Gui v e s s e l f r o m t h e S t a t e o f Q in a n d r u b b in g o f i n s c r ip t io n . U n d a te d , s e v e n th t o s ix t h c e n t u r y B.C .E. B ro n z e , 1 9.8 c m h ig h . M u s e u m o f C h in e s e H is t o r y , B e ijin g . P h o t o :Zhongguo m e ishu q u a n ji: sh u fa z /iu a n k e fa /a n , 1 :p i. 20.

Surprisingly, given the importance attached to the First Emperor’s ascent ofMt. Tai in later histories of the feng and shan sacrifices, the text he placed on the mountain says nothing about these events. Confucianists of his time, whose advice on ritual procedures he had sought and then rejected, claimed that a violent storm the emperor encountered on the mountain kept him from reaching the summit, though Sima Qian believed that the carved stone was intended to prove that he had done so and that he had successfully conducted ihefeng sacrifice.17 By placing the carved texts at the sites he visited, the First Emperor may have hoped to position himself in a lineage of sagely rulers who had commemorated their travels and ritual performances through stone inscriptions. In the story of King M u, s mythic journey to remote western lands, which may have circulated as early as the fourth century b . c . e ., the king is said to have carved inscriptions on two mountains.18 Several Han sources also mention stone inscriptions on Mt. Tai, each in a different script type, carved by seventy-two rulers of antiquity who were cred­ ited with conducting the feng and shan sacrifices there.19 Although this legend of sagely writing on Mt. Tai may have originated before the time of the First Emperor, none of the extant accounts of earlier inscriptions can be dated securely to before the Han period. More direct and better documented precedents are the Stone Drums and Imprecations against Chu (Zu Chu wen) from the pre-imperial Qin state.20 The latter in particular, carved on separate stones placed at different locations and addressed to different spirits, presaged the textual marking of space achieved by the mountain inscriptions of the First Emperor. Although the medium of these pre-imperial inscriptions was the same as that of the carved stones on Mt. Tai and other mountains, the most significant antecedents of the Qin steles were texts inscribed on ritual artifacts (fig. 4.2). Placed

on bronze vessels used to prepare and serve sacrificial food and wine, and on bells and stone chimes that produced music for an unseen audience of spirits, these texts allowed rulers to establish “links between the human world and that of the spirits,” essential to the political order of ancient China.21Unlike ritual vessels sequestered in an ancestral temple, however, the Qin stone inscriptions were accessible to any­ one who traveled to the mountains where they were placed. Read in situ, the texts not only glorified the First Emperor but also reminded the reader that the landscapes in which they were sited had been visited by the ruler himself. Ultimately, the semiotic logic of the Qin inscriptions depends on the prin­ ciple of the index— a sign that acquires its power of signification through a direct, causal relationship with its referent:a knock on a door signifies that someone is outside;a footprint indicates that someone has walked on a beach;strokes written with a brush record the movements of a writer’s hand and arm.22The index can also encompass signs not connected to their referents by direct physical contact: although the emperor did not personally inscribe the stones, they marked his progress across the world he controlled. Left behind in his wake, the stones established a tangible bond between imperial will and its embodiment in writing, between the movement of the emperor through space and the production of monuments intended to fix in the minds of his subjects, and in those of future generations, the memory of his awful tread.

JADE T A B LE T S AND STONE S T E L E S : H AN E L A B O R A T I O N S OF W R I T I N G ON MT. TAI The sanctity of the feng and shan sacrifices derived from their putative antiquity and from their performance by sage-kings;no one seemed to know, however, exactly how they should be carried out. W hen the First Emperor of Qin decided to conduct the sacrifices, he became impatient with the conflicting opinions of scholars he assembled to advise him and dismissed them all. He proceeded to ascend the moun­ tain and likely improvised a ceremony based on procedures used at the Qin ritual center at Yong (Shaanxi). The details of his mountaintop/en^ sacrifice, like his shan sacrifice on the hill of Liangfu, were kept secret.23 One of the reasons for this secrecy could have been to hide the fact that the First Emperor was as clueless as anyone else about how to conduct the feng and shan. But as Sima Qian implies, the emperor may have had other reasons for keeping secret the details of his sacrifices:they were performed not only to worship Heaven and Earth but also to advance his personal quest for immortality.24 In addition to dis­ playing his temporal authority over the coastal provinces of his domains, the

emperor’s eastern inspection tours provided opportunities for him to interview local magicians and geomancers and to explore the possibility of meeting immortals said to dwell on islands in the eastern sea— a quest to which the poems and other texts on Cloud Peak Mountain attributed to Zheng Daozhao allude. Although there is nothing in the Qin stele inscriptions that expresses the emperor’s desire to achieve immortality or personal transcendence of death through the performance of the sacrifices on Mt. Tai, the mountain was closely associated with the quest for com­ muning with immortals and with cults in this area of Shandong dedicated to these supernatural beings.25 By the time of the next emperor who traveled to Mt. Tai to c o n d u c t th e s a c rific e s , E m p e r o r W u (r. 1 4 0 -8 7 b .c .e . ) o f th e H a n d y n a s ty , th e l i n k

between th e fe n g and shan sacrifices at Mt. Tai and the quest for im m ortality was

unmistakable. Inspired by the claims of a magician who told him that the legendary Yellow Emperor and other rulers had become immortal after performing the sacri­ fices, Emperor W u visited Mt. Tai eight times and conducted the feng sacrifice on at least five occasions— events to which the poems of Zheng Daozhao also refer.26 However fanciful, the belief that sovereigns of antiquity had inscribed their traces on Mt. Tai and at other sites became part of the accepted lore of thefeng and shan . In a n e s s a y a n d r h y m e d e u lo g y b y S im a X ia n g r u ( 1 7 9 - 1 1 7 b .c .e . ) u r g in g

Emperor W u to carry out the sacrifices, the poet alludes to past rulers who “carved their achievements upon the Central Sacred Peak, in order to make known their supreme worth, extend their abundant virtue, spread abroad their fame and honor, and receive generous blessings from above whereby to enrich their people.”27 The inscribed “Central Sacred Peak” cited by Sima was Mt. Song, in modern Henan, which ancient sages, setting out from their capitals in the west, visited on their way eastward to Mt. Tai.28 What Sima’s text reveals is that part of the history of moun­ tains, as sites of religious and political significance, had come to be seen as a history of writing imprinted on their peaks. When Emperor W u arrived at Mt. Tai for the first time in the third month of no

b . c . e .,

he ordered that a stone be dragged up the mountain and erected on the

summit.29Sources disagree about the form of this monument, where it was placed, and what inscription, if any, it bore.30 Nevertheless, it seems likely that the Han emperor had a stone monument of some kind placed on Mt. Tai; some scholars believe it was the so-called Stele without Characters (Wuzi bei), a polished rectan­ gular monolith, six meters high, that stands today just below the Temple of the Jade Emperor (fig. 4.3).31A month after his first visit, having completed his investigation of reported sightings of immortals along the seacoast, Emperor W u returned to the m o u n t a in . O n M a y 17 ,n o b . c . e . , h e c o n d u c te d a p r e lim in a r y feng s a c rific e at th e

base of Mt. Tai following the procedure used in the capital at Chang’an for the sub­ urban sacrifices to the Great Unity, the supreme cosmic deity of the Han ritual

system. Then, accompanied by only one attendant, he ascended the mountain and performed the feng sacrifice on the summit, this time in complete secrecy. Under an altar constructed at the base of the mountain the emperor buried a jade tablet inscribed with the text of a secret message, presumably his prayer for immortality.32 W ith this act, the emperor introduced a new for­ mat for writing at Mt. Tai: inscriptions on tablets were buried under the altars honoring Earth, while texts on steles addressing Heaven were dis­ played publicly for all to see. The sixth-century literary critic Liu Xie summed up the relationship between the two formats of writing in a terse, eight-character phrase: “the standing stone [addresses] the Nine Heavens;the sealed gold [tab­ lets address] the Eight Subtleties (in the depths of the earth).”33 Separating Emperor W u’s multiple perfor­ mances of the feng and shan sacrifices from that of the next Han ruler to visit Mt. Tai was a cataclys­ mic event in the history of early China :the tem­ porary supplanting of the Han dynasty by Wang Mang (45 b . c . e . -23 c . e .), an imperial relative who became regent for the boy emperor Ping (r. 1-5 c . e .).

In the year 9 c . e ., citing multiple portents

indicating that a change of dynasty was the will of Heaven, Wang declared himself emperor of the Xin, or “New,” dynasty. During his rise to power, Wang had sought to liken himself to sage-rulers of antiquity and had ostentatiously promoted his own vision of correct ritual procedures— an enter­ prise that culminated in the construction of the Bright Hall (Mingtang) south of Ch , angan, a ritual building intended as a supreme symbol of impe­ rial authority.34 Almost predictably, Wang Mang made plans to undertake inspection tours of his empire, following the model of the mythic Shun, whom he claimed as an ancestor, and that of the First Emperor of Qin and Emperor W u of the Han. These proposed tours were repeatedly announced and

Fig. 4 .3 . Stele w ith o u t Characters (W u zi b e i) . U n d a te d . S to n e , 6 0 0 c m h ig h . M t. T a i, T a i ,a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o to :C hen L i- w e i.

repeatedly postponed, owing to the death of the empress dowager and other inaus­ picious events.35Although not stated explicitly in historical sources, Wang intended to perform the feng and shan sacrifices at Mt. Tai during one of these abortive jour­ neys. This is known from the discovery, at the former site of the Gui Palace in Weiyang District of Xi'an, of a stone tablet bearing carved seal script characters inlaid with red pigment (plate 16).36Although the tablet is only a fragment of what must have been a larger object, the remaining text refers to the “house of Xin” and to the feng altar at Mt. Tai, leaving little doubt that the tablet was prepared for use during the sacrifice on the mountain. It was never transmitted to Mt. Tai, where it no doubt would have been buried on the summit near the same place where the First Emperor and Emperor W u had left stone inscriptions and jade tablets to announce their own achievements. Nevertheless, aside from the fragmentary inscription said to have been added to his father’s inscription on Mt. Tai by the Second Emperor of Qin, Wang Mang's tablet, which probably was broken in the chaos that attended the collapse of his short-lived dynasty, is the earliest known artifact from ancient China that can be linked to the feng and shan sacrifices. Where Wang Mang failed, Emperor Guangwu (r. 25-57), who restored the proper line of Han emperors, succeeded. Concerning his performance of the feng and shan sacrifices, we have meticulous records of both the jade tablets and the stele prepared for the emperor at Mt. Tai. The events that led to the production of these objects demonstrate conflicting impulses of imperial hubris and imperial hum ility that would shape all later attempts to carry out the sacrifices. W hen officials at his court first raised the possibility of conducting the rituals in memorials submitted in the second month of 54 c . e ., Guangwu refused.37Although he had achieved the great feat of restoring the Han dynasty after the interregnum of Wang Mang, the emperor rebuffed his officials by citing Guan Zhong’s admonition to Duke Huan of Qi, voiced when the duke had unwisely concluded that he was qualified to undertake the sacrifices. Emperor Guangwu claimed that his own lack of virtue disqualified him and that he would fool no one through an empty ritual display. But the follow­ ing month, on a visit to eastern China, the emperor passed by Mt. Tai and, as if inspired by the sight of the great mountain, ordered local officials to conduct rituals on the summit and at the hill of Liangfu. Finally, in the first month of 56c.e., after ritually p u r i f y i n g himself, Guangwu spent the night reading Auspicious Talisman of the River Chart (Hetu huichang fa). In this apocryphal commentary on the River Chart (Hetu) the emperor discovered a passage predicting that the ninth Han ruler^none other than Guangwu himself~was fated to perform the feng and shan sacrifices at Mt. Tai.38 On the authority of this text, he immediately began prepara­ tions to carry out the sacrifices the very next month ;doing so would allow him to follow a precedent set by Shun, who was said to have burned offerings at Mt. Tai in

the second month of the year~a month allied cosmologically w ith the season of spring and w ith the direction east, with which Mt. Tai is correlated.39 In light of what we now know of Wang Mang’s intention to visit Mt. Tai, Emperor Guangwu may have had an additional motive for carrying out the sacrifices:by successfully completing the solemn rituals that Wang Mang had planned but failed to carry out, the rightful Han ruler could appropriate their powerful symbolism for him ­ self and place himself in the grand lineage of historical and mythic rulers who had ascended the mountain. During hasty consultations with his ministers, Guangwu directed that the sacrifices should be conducted according to the same regulations used by Emperor W u, though it is doubtful that much useful information about these secret rituals was actually available. Nevertheless, his advisers presented the emperor with a long list of exacting specifications, many of them concerning the preparation of texts to be carved on stone and jade— writing brought into being under the influence of yet another text, the apocryphal River Chart commentary that set the emperor’s plans in motion. The emperor was advised to prepare a stele nine chi in height (approxi­ mately two meters) to be placed three zhang (approximately twenty-three meters) from the feng altar.40 The inscribed jade tablets were to be tied in bundles with gold thread and placed in a stone coffer stamped with a jade seal impressed in paste made from mercury and gold. Encased in stone slabs, the coffer was to be buried under mounds of multicolored earth correlated with the cardinal directions of Han cosmology. This torrent of ritual advice created many worries for the emperor. He was particularly concerned about the difficulty of completing so much stone carving in time to conduct the sacrifices on schedule and suggested that stones and jade left over from the time of Emperor W u be recycled for his use. When his principal adviser, Liang Song (d. 61 c . e .), rejected these shortcuts, the emperor immediately ordered that the commandery governor of Mt. Tai begin a search for the necessary stones. When it appeared that no craftsman was available to carve the inscriptions on the jade tablets, the emperor suggested another expediency, which was to write on the tablets with red lacquer pigment. Fortunately, a skilled jade worker finally was located and the tablets were properly carved. Their contents, however, remained a secret. Although Guangwu specifically denied that he was performing the sacrifices in hopes of becoming an immortal, and conducted the rituals in full view of a large entourage, some aspects of the ceremonies were too portentous to be made public. As soon as the emperor arrived at Mt. Tai he ordered workmen to ascend the mountain and inscribe the stele.41 Blessed with good weather and multiple auspi­ cious omens, including unusual mists and clouds that appeared in the sky over Mt. Tai, Guangwu conducted thtfeng sacrifice on March 27, 56 c _e . After personally

sealing the jade tablets and witnessing their encasement and burial on the altar, he ordered that the preinscribed stele be raised.42He then descended the mountain and the next day conducted the shan sacrifice at Liangfu. The text of Emperor Guangwu’s stele on Mt. Tai is attributed to Zhang Chun (d. 56

c .e

.), o n e o f th e o ffic ia ls w h o fir s t s u g g e s te d t h a t th e e m p e r o r c o n d u c t th e

sacrifices. Zhang was also granted the honor of accompanying the emperor to the mountain.43 Judged “lucid in narrative and articulate in reasoning, although somewhat lacking in embellishment, , , by Liu Xie,44 Zhang Chun, s text opens with a series of citations from the various apocryphal sources that foretold Guangwu’s predestined performance of the feng and shan sacrifices, including the passage from the Auspicious Talisman ofthe River Chart that had convinced the emperor to journey to Mt. Tai. The heart of the text recounts Guangwu’s restoration of the Han dynasty: Thanks to the blessings conferred by Sovereign Heaven on the emperor, from among the common people he received the mandate to revive [the dynasty]. At the age of twenty-eight, he began his military campaigns. Taking the central [imperial] position, he punished and quelled for more than ten years, and the guilty were taken [captive]. The common people were able to live among their fields and dwell peacefully in their homes. W riting employed uniform script, carriages used uniform axles, and people observed the same social rules. Wherever boats and chariots reached, and wherever traces of people could be found, there were none who did not offer tribute.. .. [The emperor] has ruled for thirty-two years and is sixty-two [years old]. He works all day, not daring to indulge in careless rest. He wades through dangers and surmounts perils. Personally he makes tours to inspect the [conditions of] the masses and is respectful toward heavenly and earthly spirits. He is full of compassion for the elderly, and in governing his people he follows antiquity. He is astute and sincere, brilliant and merciful.45 (4 B) Echoing the language of the stone inscription placed on Mt. Tai by the First Emperor, the stele text praises Guangwu's feat of dynastic revival and his rectification of ritual practice. The inscription also cites the emperor’s efforts to recover classical Confucian texts that had been lost during the time of Wang Mang. Just as impressing a seal onto the bundled jade tablets finalized their presentation to Heaven, erecting the stele bearing Zhang Chun’s text marked the culmination of the emperor’s restoration of dynastic, ritual, and textual traditions, culminating in the performance of the feng

and shan sacrifices. Unfortunately, not so much as a single character from the stele has survived, and nothing is known of the calligraphic style in which the inscription was carved. In spite of its subsequent disappearance, as soon as Emperor Guangwu, s stele was raised, it denied the First Emperor sole epigraphic rights to the summit of Mt. Tai and presaged the flurries of inscriptions that eventually would coat the mountain with writing. By the fourth month of the year 56, Emperor Guangwu was back in his capital at Luoyang. To celebrate the completion of the rituals, he declared a general amnesty for the entire empire, announced a new reign title, and rescinded taxes for areas near Mt. Tai. Finally, introducing a practice that would be emulated by all later rulers who conducted the feng and shan sacrifices, Guangwu sealed another bundle of jade tablets, inscribed, presumably, with the same texts as those buried at Mt. Tai, and had them placed in a stone niche in the temple dedicated to Han Gaozu (r. 202-195 b.c.e.), the dynastic founder, who had been designated the associated ancestral deity at the feng sacrifice.46 W ith this act of bringing back to the locus of imperial ancestral worship copies of texts that had been placed on the sacred moun­ tain, the feng and shan sacrifices of Emperor Guangwu were over, and six hundred years would pass before another sovereign attempted to duplicate his feat.

T H E P O L I T I C S OF W O R D S ON S T O N S During the centuries that separated the carving of Emperor Guangwu’s stele on Mt. Tai in 56 c . e . from the production of Emperor Xuanzong’s triumphant inscription on the mountain in 726, writing on stone was a contested medium of public com­ memoration in China, claimed by groups whose interests and ambitions often were in conflict. Although the inscription left on the mountain by the Han emperor was imbued with profound religious and ideological significance, what may have been most notable about this imperial monument was its rarity. Historical sources record only a handful of inscriptions directly connected with the Han rulers or their families; in the inventory of extant stones, there is no evidence at all.47 As the his­ tory of stone inscriptions traced in chapter 1 demonstrates, instead of imperial patrons it was officials and private citizens— members of the literate elite known as s h i who caused steles to “rise like clouds” and who carved moya inscriptions on mountains and cliffs during the Eastern Han period. Like the rare imperial monu­ ments in the medium of carved stone, steles and moya sponsored by the shi during the same period addressed an unrestricted public readership, but the relationships between the producers and the readers of these inscriptions were very different. Even if it did not directly quote the words of the ruler, an inscription carved on

imperial command was a communication handed down to a reader whose own power and status were inferior to those of the all-powerful sponsor of the text. Stele inscrip­ tions sponsored by shi donors, in addition to addressing their social or economic inferiors and equals, also addressed those of higher station who might be able to advance the fortunes of donors and their families. For those who paid to have steles erected, praising a man’s virtues was a means of calling attention to one’s own in a public format intended to attract wide notice. Considered w ithin the larger context of Eastern Han history, however, stone inscriptions, especially those from the second half of the second century, can be interpreted not as expressions of hope for future success but as embodiments of simmering discontent and strife. Though masked by the grandiloquent language of the texts, political tensions as well as shocking acts of violence sometimes lay behind the production of steles. In a case studied in detail by W u Hung, a group of four high-ranking statesmen led by Li Ying (d. 169), a former grand commandant, dedicated a stele in Shandong to a minor official, Han Shao. In 154,Han had defied instructions from the central government to punish rebellious but destitute peas­ ants, providing them instead with food from a government granary.48Although the date the stele was carved is not recorded, it probably was in 167 or 168, while Li and another donor were living in forced retirement in Shandong after joining in oppo­ sition to the eunuchs who controlled the imperial court. Collectively allying them­ selves with the conduct of Han Shao by sponsoring the monument, the donors also expressed their own political solidarity. Scarcely a year later, Li Ying and two of the other donors shared a common violent fate, tortured to death at the hands of the victorious eunuchs. The factional struggle that resulted in the deaths of Li Ying and the other donors of Han Shao’s stele was known as the Great Proscription, which pitted the inner court, dominated by eunuchs, against their political enemies, known as the "Pure Critics.” During this struggle, which began in 166 and continued through the reign of Emperor Ling (r. 168-189), hundreds of the defeated Pure Critics, among them Li Ying and his associates, were executed or imprisoned; others were barred from participation in political life. It was at just this time that the numbers of stone inscriptions dramatically increased. What this correlation appears to show is that men affected by the political crisis turned to the medium of words carved on stone as a means to express, at least indirectly, their political discontent and to display their bonds of friendship.49 The career of Cai Yong, the leading author of inscriptions and the foremost calligrapher of the Eastern Han, was profoundly shaped by the Great Proscription. In addition to his literary and artistic skill, Cai was famous for his classical scholar­ ship, his literary and musical talent, and his boldly stated political views.50 In the

wake of the eunuchs’ rise to power, Cai Yong refused to accept an official position in the capital by claiming to be ill— a favorite ploy for avoiding disagreeable situa­ tions in early China ;he continued, however, to submit strongly worded memorials setting out his views.51 Finally, in 171, Cai Yong accepted a post in the imperial library under Emperor Ling. His presence in the capital was instrumental in the production of the Stone Classics, carved in Luoyang between the years 175 and 183.52 This was done at the request of Cai Yong and several other scholars who urged Emperor Ling to have authoritative versions of selected Confucian classics recorded on stone. Cai Yong himself participated in the process of “writing in cinnabar” (shudan), brushing characters directly on the stones to be carved by craftsmen. His exile in 178, five years before the steles were finished, ended his participation in this great calligraphic enterprise, and surviving fragments of the stones show that the texts were transcribed by several different hands (see fig. 1.28). When the completed texts of the Stone Classics, carved on both sides of sixtyfour limestone slabs, were set in place in front of the Kaiyang Gate of the National University, they created a sensation. Crowds filled the surrounding streets and struggled to get close enough to the texts to make copies from them, participating in a communal experience of reading that only public writing in a format such as stele inscriptions could allow. However disorderly these readers may have been, they could not have failed to grasp that the steles did more than simply present a set of canonical texts. The Stone Classics demonstrated Emperor Ling's commitment to the teachings that provided an ideological foundation for imperial rule. At the same time, however, the steles demonstrated the intellectual capital of Cai Yong and the other scholars who carried out the project— men who saw themselves as the rightful stewards and correct interpreters of the heritage distilled in the texts.53 Though intended to stabilize the transmission of all-important books, the Stone Classics also embodied in the m edium of carved c a llig r a p h y the tensions betw een the court and its critics, and between competing claimants to political and moral authority as the Han dynasty entered its final decades. The carving of the Stone Classics wsls one of the few epigraphic projects of the Han dynasty sponsored directly by the state, which seems to have looked on pas­ sively as steles paid for, written, and read by its citizens grew in numbers. In 205, however, state intervention brought a sudden halt to the spread of writing on stone. A decree issued by the warlord Cao Cao (155-220), who had become ruler of China in all but name, banned lavish burials and the erection of stone steles.54 Cao Cao blamed these expensive practices for the economic decline of the empire, but he had other reasons to desire their eradication. The unrestricted production of stone inscriptions, through which the ideological views of donors could be projected to a wide readership, was a potentially destabilizing force— a vehicle of public discourse

over which the Han government had failed to assert control. By intervening to regulate the carving of steles, Cao Cao attempted to address what Dorothy Wong sees as “the inherent tensions between the national and the local, the central and the regional, , , generated by the unregulated carving of stone monuments.55 Cao Cao’s ban, though unevenly enforced, accounts for the sudden decline in the production of steles in the third century, which the paucity of archaeological evidence reflects;but the efficacy of stone inscriptions was not forgotten. As soon as Cao Cao, s son, Cao Pi (187-226),formally accepted the abdication of the last Han ruler, Emperor Xian (r. 189-220),and proclaimed the founding of a new dynasty, the Wei, he began to use stone inscriptions to assert the legitimacy of his regime, co-opting for his own use a form of monument that for nearly two centuries F ig . 4 . 4 .

M em orial Respect­

fu lly Presented by Gran­ dees and Generals q in g jia n g ju n h a o

z o u ).

r u b b in g P h o t o

(S h a n g

s h a n g z u n

2 2 0 .

fr o m

D e ta il o f in k


:S D Z S ,

s to n e


:p i .

s te le .


had been dominated by private patrons. Two steles were erected at the site of an altar near Xuzhou in modern Henan where Cao Pi formally assumed the rank of emperor. One, titled Memorial Respectfully Presented by Grandees and Generals (Gongqing jiangjun shang zun hao zou), was inscribed with the names of forty-six officials and with the text of a memorial in which they collec­ tively urged Cao Pi to become emperor (fig. 4.4). The other stele, titled Announcement of Accepting the Abdication (Shou shan biao), bears the text of Cao Pi’s response and his justification for displac­ ing Emperor Xian (fig. 4.5X56The design and calligraphic style of the two steles reinforced the rhetorical symmetry of the texts— a request and a response. Both bear headings carved in seal script, and the texts on the verso sides of both are written in twenty-two columns of forty-nine characters each. The clerical script char­ acters on the two monuments almost certainly are the work of the same calligrapher, whom many epigraphers over the centu­ ries have identified as Zhong You (151—230),famous during the later Eastern Han and Wei for his stele inscriptions.57 A year after becoming emperor, Cao Pi found another occasion for carving a stele. He commanded that the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, birthplace of the sage, undergo extensive

F ig . 4 . 5 .

A nnounce m ent o f

A cce p tin g th e A b d ica tio n (S h o u

s h a n

D e ta il

o f in k

a 3

s to n e

:p i .


b ia o ).

2 2 0 .

r u b b in g f r o m

s te le .

P h o to :

SD Z S ,

renovations and, at the same time, revived the custom of confer­ ring feudal titles on descendants of Confucius. These policies resulted in the carving of a stele titled Enfeoffment oftheDescendant ofthe Sage, Kong Xian (Feng zongsheng hou Kong Xian bei), which

was placed on the grounds of the temple, where it remains to this day.58 Never before had a Chinese ruler so rapidly or so adroitly employed the medium of carved stone. Read as a sequence of texts— a memorial requesting that Cao Pi become emperor, the announcement of his acceptance of the throne, and the proclamation of his virtuous acts honoring Confucius— the three steles presented an unim ­ peachable case for the legitimacy of his rule.59 Imperial steles served similar functions dur­ ing the late third century in the W u Kingdom in southern China. As the threat of the powerful Western Jin loomed in the north, Sun Hao (r. 264280), the final emperor of Wu, was blessed by the appearance of several auspicious omens. Entranced by apocryphal texts and alert to supernatural por­ tents, Sun Hao was especially pleased by the dis­ covery in the year 275 of a stone bearing the legend “State ofWu, True Emperor.” Interpreting this mys­ terious stone and other omens as signs of heavenly commendation, he announced a new reign title, “Heavenly Seal” (Tianxi), and in 276 erected a stele to commemorate these events. This monument, Stele of the Heavenly Omens (Tianfa shenchen bei), known only through rubbings, was carved in an unusual calligraphic style in which seal script char­

F ig . 4 . 6 .


ru b b in g 3

:p i .

Stele fo r th e Sh an Sacrifice on Mt.

(S h a n

G u o s h a n

f r o m


b e i).

s to n e

2 7 6 .

s te le .

D e ta il

P h o t o


acters were written in brushwork derived from Han clerical script. Also in 276, responding to the recom­ mendations of several officials, Sun Hao boldly decided to conduct a version of the feng and shan sacrifices, not at Mt. Tai, which was in the hands of the Western Jin, but at Mt. Guo in Jiangsu. It is uncertain whether both the feng and the shan sacrifices were actually carried out, though a monument connected with these events, Stele for the Shan Sacrifice on Mt. Guo (Shan Guoshan bei), survives in Yixing County, Jiangsu (fig. 4.6).60Even though the stele was carved far from Mt. Tai, it responded to the Qin stone placed there by the First Emperor: not only is the stele from the W u state one of the rare examples of an inscription from this period carved entirely in seal script, the script used for the Qin stone, but its unusual shape— broader on its e a s t a n d w e s t sid es t h a n o n th e n o r t h a n d s o u t h 一 a n d th e la y o u t o f t h e t e x t o n a ll

four sides also followed the model of the First Emperor’s inscriptions.61

o f

in k

:S D Z S ,

The ban on steles proclaimed by Cao Cao in 205 was reaffirmed by Emperor W u (r. 265-289) of the Western fin. Nevertheless, steles produced on imperial com­ mand, or erected by others in response to imperial activities, continued to appear. One type of stone monument, serving a function analogous to those of the steles erected during the First Emperor’s tours of inspection, commemorated imperial outings. In 278,faculty and students of the National University in Luoyang spon­ sored a stele known as Three Imperial Visits to the Bxyonq (Huangdi sanlin biyong bei) (see fig. 4.22).62 The text commemorated three occasions on which Emperor W u visited the university and quoted the emperor’s own words encouraging Confucian studies. From the point of view of the emperor, the stele was a flattering acknowl­ edgment of his patronage;for the faculty and students, the monument erected on their campus enhanced the status of the institution, like a modern photograph of a politician visiting a school. In the areas of southern China controlled by the short-lived Six Dynasties, prohibitions against steles remained in effect, but their enforcement was erratic, allowing the Eastern Jin literatus Sun Chuo (241—371) to become famous as a writer of stele inscriptions.63 Among the official justifications for a crackdown on steles proclaimed by the Liu-Song dynasty were recurring complaints that exaggerations of the deceased’s virtue, more or less mandatory in the literary decorum of stele inscriptions, distorted historical truth and deflected honor from those who most deserved it. Under the Southern Qi, the proscription on steles extended to members of the imperial family. When the Prince of Jingling died in 495, a request from one of his dependents to erect a stele in his memory was turned down.64 When Xiao Xiu, the half brother of Emperor W u (r. 502-549;founder of the Liang dynasty), died in 518, special permission was required to erect at his tomb four steles bearing texts composed by scholars who had enjoyed his patronage. The texts were transcribed by Bei Yiyuan (active ca. 518),who also wrote the calligraphy for the steles at the tomb of the Liang prince Xiao Dan (d. 522).6s Other steles and stone columns were placed at the tomb of a third Liang prince, Xiao Hong (d. 526), also a half brother of Emperor W u (fig. 4.7).66The relative abundance of epigraphic monuments from the Liang may reflect Emperor W u’s own passionate interest in calligraphy. In addition to collecting calligraphy, the emperor engaged in learned correspondence with the Daoist master and calligraphy expert Tao Hongjing and wrote a short essay on the calligrapher Zhong You, who specialized in stele inscriptions.67 Although a ban on steles remained in effect, perhaps the emperor was unable to resist the idea of hav­ ing superb writing preserved in the durable form of stone inscriptions and granted a special dispensation allowing the calligraphy to be carved. The sponsorship of stone inscriptions by rulers of the Southern Dynasties was hesitant and restrained compared with that of their northern counterparts,

who were from the non-Chinese Tuoba clan of Xianbei and founded the Northern Wei dynasty. In addition to the Buddhist inscrip­ tions at Longmen and the epitaphs for tombs in the Mangshan necropolis outside Luoyang, introduced in earlier chapters, Northern Wei rulers had inscriptions carved to offer prayers to their ancestors, to mark the sites of impe­ rial tombs, and to commemorate repairs to temples and shrines.68 Although no rulers of the Northern Wei attempted to conduct the feng and shan sacrifices, on at least two occa­ sions imperial prayers addressed to Mt. Tai were carved on stone at the mountain : in 468, during the reign of Emperor Xianwen, and in 495,during the reign of Emperor Xiaowen. Unfortunately, no traces of these inscriptions have ever been found at Mt. Tai.69 The most numerous and the most con­ spicuous carved monuments commissioned

Fig. 4 .7 . S te le a n d s to n e p il l a r a t t h e t o m b o f

by the Tuoba emperors celebrated imperial

X ia o H o n g (d . 5 2 6 ). Z h a n g k u c u n , J ia n g s u . P h o to :

journeys and feats of martial or athletic prow­

C o u r te s y o f A n n P a lu d a n .

ess.70Returning from Mongolia in 399 after a successful campaign against the Gaoche trit )e, the dynastic founder, Emperor Daowu (r. 386-408), had a stele erected on M t. Bo, north of the capital at Pingcheng.71 Emperor Taiwu (r. 424-451) had insc:riptions carved to commemorate a deer hunt and, it appears, to celebrate a battle v ictory over the Liu-Song dynasty in 443.72Several steles preserved memories of spec:ific acts performed by the Northern Wei emperors during their frequent inspectio n tours. In 435, Emperor Taiwu set out from Pingcheng on a journey that took hir n to Mt. Heng, the sacred mountain of the north in Shanxi. On his way back to the capital, passing through a mountainous area called Five Bends Ridge along the cc>urse of the Xu River in Hebei, the emperor paused on the roadside, took up his bo w, and shot an arrow over the top of a mountain. Several expert archers in his par ty tried (or at least made a show of doing so) and failed to match his feat. To comrnemorate the emperor’s remarkable shot, officials accompanying him had three steles carved and placed at the site.73 Emperor Wencheng (r. 452-465) performed a si]nilar feat during an inspection tour in 461,outdoing other archers by sending an arrow sailing over a mountain in Lingqiu County in Shanxi and having the eveiit recorded on a huge stele raised at

the site.74 When Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471-499) passed by this monument on an inspection tour in 494,he ordered his brothers and attending officials to shoot an arrow over the same peak. The Prince of Beihai, Yuan Xiang, came closest, and his feat was commemorated by a carved stone column.75 Keeping up this tradition of imperial archery, Emperor Xuanwu once shot an arrow a distance of more than one " and fifty paces, immediately inspiring requests from officials to carve a stele honoring the event.76 Like the mountaintop inscriptions of the First Emperor of Qin and the West­ ern Jin steles erected after an imperial visit to the National University, Northern Wei imperial steles indexed the movements of rulers through their domains, literally and figuratively inscribing their power on the landscape.77 In 494 a Northern Wei ruler introduced an important innovation in the medium of carved stone in China: a text not about his deeds but composed in his own words. This work, titled The Emperor’s Elegyfor Bi Gan (Huangdi diao Bi Gan wen), was placed at the tomb of Bi Gan, the virtuous uncle of the debauched final ruler of the Shang dynasty.78 Its author, Emperor Xiaowen, also composed an epitaph for an imperial relative, Feng Xi, thus personally demonstrating cultural achievements that his sinicizing policies could be expected to nurture among the Tuoba aristocracy.79It is possible, of course, that the stele text dedicated to the memory of Bi Gan was drafted or composed in its entirety by a ghostwriter;rhetorically and ideologically, however, the monument presented to readers, perhaps for the first time in Chinese history, a carved text for public display specifically identified as the composition of a reigning emperor. W ith this stele, the history of public writing in China drew closer to the synthesis of imperially composed text and calligraphy that emerged in the Tang dynasty.

THE a u t o g r a p h i c m o n u m e n t a n d t a n g i m p e r i a l i n s c r i p t i o n s By the early seventh century, rulers of China had employed writing carved on stone to mark sites where they traveled and to demonstrate their commitment to religious or ideological systems that affirmed their right to govern. Under Tang Taizong, who consolidated and greatly expanded the power of the dynasty founded by his father, Emperor Gaozu (r. 618-626), steles produced by court calligraphers continued these well-established precedents for documenting imperial deeds and policies. Among the monuments written for Taizong were several bearing texts brushed by the foremost calligraphers at the early Tang court:Yu Shinan (558-638) and Ouyang Xun (557—641). Stele of the Ritual Hall at the Temple ofConfucius (Kongzi miaotang bei), written by Yu Shinan around the year 629, documented Emperor Taizong, s renova­ tion of the Confucian temple on the campus of the National University in Chang’an ,

the Tang dynasty capital; this type of monument, like Taizong’s policy of nurturing Confucian studies, was a familiar means of demonstrating imperial rectitude, sanc­ tioned by several examples of imperial steles discussed earlier in this chapter.80 Inscription for the Sweet Spring at the Palace of Nine Perfections (fiuchenggong liquan ming), written by Ouyang Xun in 632, drew on another precedent, that of marking the sites of events in which the emperor played the leading role (fig. 4.8). While spending the sum­ mer at the Palace of Nine Perfections, the former site of a Sui dynasty building north of Chang’an, Taizong discov­ ered a miraculous spring while strolling about the palace grounds. The waters of this spring were said to confer long life on those who drank it, and the stele celebrated the appearance of this auspicious omen. In spite of having at his service illustrious callig­ raphers capable of documenting his reign in exquisitely carved steles, Emperor Taizong— restless, imaginative, and energetic— — was not content with these monuments. Recognizing and, in a sense, creating the uniquely potent

Fig. 4 .8 . O u y a n g X u n (5 5 7 —6 4 1 ),

symbolism of calligraphy from the imperial brush,

In sc rip tio n fo r th e Sweet Spring a t

Taizong sponsored the carving of steles bearing texts he

the Palace o f Nine P erfections ( j iu c h e n g g o n g liq u a n m in g ) . 6 3 2 .

both composed and transcribed in his own hand. Several

D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e

earlier Chinese rulers were good calligraphers, but Taizong

s te le . P h o t o :SDZS, 7 :p i. 5 4.

apparently was the first to have his brush-written charac­ ters transformed into monumental carved writing.81 The emperor’s invention yielded what can be termed an autographic monument:a work of art intended for public viewing, shaped not only by a patron’s wishes but also by his direct participa­ tion in fashioning its form. To imagine a comparable phenomenon in the West, one would have to conceive that Trajan’s Column, for example, had been personally carved, or at least designed, by that Roman emperor;or that the famous bronze equestrian statue that long stood in the Campidoglio in Rome (now replaced by a copy) was cast by Marcus Aurelius himself. Two examples of Taizong’s autographic monuments are titled Inscription for the Shrine ofJin (Jinci ming), from 647,and Inscription for the Hot Springs (Wenquan ming), from 648,known through a rubbing discovered at Dunhuang in the early twentieth century. The Shrine of fin, near Taiyuan in Shanxi, was dedicated to the ancestor of the State of Jin, Tang Shuyu.82 It was at this shrine that Taizong’s father, Emperor Gaozu, offered prayers before leading his troops to end the rule of the last

Fig. 4 .9 . E m p e r o r T a n g T a iz o n g (r. 6 2 6 —6 4 9 ), In s c rip tio n fo r th e Shrine o f Jin ( j i n c i m in g ) , 647. D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . P h o t o :Zhongguo m eishu q u a n ji: sh u fa z /iu a n k e bian, 3: p i. 33.

Fig. 4 .1 0 . E m p e ro r T a n g T a iz o n g (r. 6 2 6 —6 4 9 ), In s c rip tio n fo r th e H ot Springs ( W e n q u a n m in g ) . 6 4 8 . In k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . B ib lio t h e q u e n a t io n a le , P a ris . P h o to : Zhongguo m eishu quanji: sh u fa zhuanke bian, 3: p i. 3 4.

Sui emperor and proclaim the founding of the Tang dynasty.83In the first month of 646,returning from an unsuccessful campaign against the Korean kingdom of Koguyro, Taizong visited the shrine, composed a text commemorating his father’s virtues, and had it carved on a stele (fig. 4.9). This inscription in Taizong’s distinctive running script marked not only the site of his own travels but also a location imbued with powerful significance for the history of the Tang dynasty. The stele bears the words “imperially composed, imperially transcribed” (yuzhi yushu), the same fourcharacter phrase that appears at the beginning of Xuanzong’s Inscription/or the Record ofMt. Tai. Taizong’s Inscriptionfor the Hot Springs (fig. 4.10) marked a site dedicated to imperial pleasure. Carved on a stele set in a tower at the gate of Taizong’s palace at Lishan, east of Chang’an, the inscription describes the scenery around this retreat. Only a portion of the original text, transcribed in Taizong’s running-cursive script, is preserved in the extant rubbing; a heading in clerical script, the script type in which Xuanzong would later specialize, appeared at the top of the stele.84 Taizong’s inscriptions were part of his much broader intervention in the history of Chinese calligraphy, as a collector, theorist, and practitioner. In all of these roles he was driven by a passionate interest in the calligraphy of Wang Xizhi (303-361), the fourth-century aristocrat viewed as the greatest calligrapher in Chi­ nese history. Taizong assembled in his palace collection over two thousand pieces of Wang’s calligraphy, required members of the Tang aristocracy and calligraphers at his court to study Wang’s style, and personally composed Wang’s biography for the official history of the Jin dynasty. The story of Taizong, s nefarious acquisition of Wang’s masterpiece, Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection (Lanting ji xu), through the trickery of an imperial censor, enhanced the fetishistic value accorded all traces of Wang’s brush.85 Taizong also based his own calligraphic style on the running script of Wang Xizhi and Wang’s son, Wang Xianzhi (344-388), developing a fluid, lively hand that features rapid changes of brush direction and unpredictable manip­ ulations of the compositions of characters. Taizong’s interest in Wang Xizhi was not purely aesthetic. Intent on exerting both political and cultural control over the newly stabilized Tang dynasty, the emperor, whose base of power was in the north, used Wang’s calligraphy, closely asso­ ciated with the aristocratic culture of southern China, as an emblem of national unification 一 an aesthetic norm to be honored in all parts of the empire.86Whatever his motives, the emperor’s veneration secured Wang’s status as China’s “Sage of Calligraphy.” Taizong’s obsession with calligraphy also elevated the status of this art to new heights and demonstrated to his subjects a model for the appreciation of autograph traces of brushwork, which they obligingly projected back onto Taizong’s own writing, sometimes carrying their enthusiasm to comic lengths. During a banquet at the Hongwu Gate (site of the coup in which Taizong had seized power by

tr y


m 顔

1霸 SB-

Fig. 4 .1 1 . C o p y o f W a n g X iz h i ( 3 0 3 —3 6 1 ) ,Three Letters ^Pingan, Heru, Fengju). S e c tio n o f a h a n d s c r o ll. In k o n p a p e r , 2 2 .7 c m h ig h . N a t io n a l P a la c e M u s e u m , T a ip e i.

having his brother assassinated), the emperor produced samples of “flying white” (feibai) calligraphy to present to his guests. In their eagerness to acquire these imperial souvenirs, the assembled statesmen, emboldened by wine, indecorously struggled to get their hands on Taizong’s writing, greatly amusing the emperor.87 Although any artifact associated with the person of the emperor was imbued with a potent, near-supernatural aura, the apparatus of connoisseurship and apprecia­ tion that Taizong so powerfully enhanced in his collecting and critiquing of works by Wang Xizhi raised the stakes, as if were, for all calligraphy, beginning with the emperor’s own. The pieces of writing by Wang Xizhi on which Taizong, like earlier collectors, focused his enthusiasm were almost all personal letters一 informal texts written in running or cursive script (fig. 4.11).88 The material and content of these works, known as tie, or literally “slips of paper, , ,were ephemeral and casual; unlike stele inscriptions, they were not intended for public display. In the discourse of criticism and connoisseurship focused on Wang Xizhi and on other calligraphers of the early Six Dynasties, these informal traces of brushwork were treated as embodiments of the moods and feeling of the calligraphers. To see such calligraphy, it was believed,

was to encounter an unmistakable reflection of the mind and personality of the writer. It was the genius of Emperor Taizong to transfer these concepts of reading and interpreting calligraphy to the medium of carved stone, in writing that displays the same improvisatory, unstudied brushwork seen in letters by Wang Xizhi. As we have seen, the names of calligraphers appeared occasionally in earlier stone inscriptions, but only rarely, as in the case of the sutra dedication on Mt. Tie, were the names of these individuals presented as essential information intended to enhance the value of a monument. It was the identity of the dedicatee and the donor, not the calligrapher, that indicated the importance of a carved text. In the case of imperially commissioned inscriptions, going back to the days of the First Emperor, any writer, however lofty his status, could not cease to be a subject, an instrument of imperial will whose task was to distill and focus his patron’s wishes in the carved writing. By creating autograph inscriptions of his own, Taizong eliminated the middleman, harnessing the unique power of calligraphy to point indexically to the identity of the calligrapher. Although any work of calligraphy may produce this effect, the impulses and energy of the writer’s hand are most apparent in running and cursive script. By using these scripts for his steles, instead of the more formal scripts sanctioned by the earlier history of stone monuments, Taizong asserted his new role as the foremost calligrapher of the empire:not only did he become the first emperor to write steles, but he did so in calligraphic styles that previously had been reserved for private letters and informal jottings. Perhaps only the emperor himself could have dared to attempt such a display of impetuous, informal brushwork in the hallowed medium of stone. A good indication of how clearly Tang dynasty readers grasped the ideologi­ cal significance of Taizong, s stele inscriptions is the frequency with which his successors produced inscriptions of their own, beginning with his son, Emperor Gaozong (r. 649-683). In 657 Gaozong visited the site of a battle near Luoyang where his father had defeated a rival claimant to the imperial throne, a critical victory in the consolidation of Tang rule and in Taizong’s own rise to power. In a stele of 659 titled Eulogy of the Achievements of the Great Tang (Da Tang jigong song), Gaozong honored his father by composing the text and by writing the calligraphy in his own hand, which was based on Taizong’s running script style (fig. 4.12). The project was completed by having the stele placed at a temple founded by Taizong himself near the battlefield.89 Gaozong, s wife, Empress W u Zetian (625-705; r. 690-705), grasped w ith her characteristic shrewdness the multivalence and the political value of inscriptions. She added her calligraphy to several sites ornamented by her husband’s writing, employing a similar style of running script derived from Wang Xizhi— the fountainhead of early Tang imperial calligraphy. As the founder of her own dynasty, the New Zhou (690-705),she was the first and only female emperor in Chinese

history; she was also the first female calligrapher known to have produced stele inscriptions.90 One of her inscriptions, Stele ofthe Ascended Immortal Heir Apparent (Shengxian taizi bei) (fig. 4.13), dated 699,was placed at a shrine near Mt. Song dedicated to Wang Zijin, the phoenix-riding immortal whose name we encountered on the summit of Cloud Peak Mountain. The unusually large stele, 5.3 meters tall, probably was inspired by more than the empress’s attraction to all manner of occult beliefs:Wang Zijin was not only an immortal but also a prince of the Zhou dynasty, the model for the New Zhou founded by the empress. Written in her own hand, the towering stele reminded visitors to the shrine of her remarkable feat of found­ ing a dynasty intended to revive the lost glories of Zhou rule.91 After the abdication of Empress W u in 705, both Emper­ Fig. 4 .1 2 . E m p e ro r T a n g

ors Zhongzong (684;705-710) and Ruizong (684-690;710-712),

G a o z o n g (r. 6 4 9 —6 8 3 ) ,

who had ruled briefly before being deposed by the empress,

Eulogy o f the iA c/'n .e ve m e n ts

produced inscriptions of their own, continuing the practice

o f the Great Tang (D a T a n g

established by their illustrious ancestor Taizong.92 By the time

g o n g ji s o n g ) . 659 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e

Emperor Xuanzong came to the throne, in 712, imperially com­

s te le . P h o t o :SDZS, 8 :p i. 36.

posed and transcribed stone inscriptions were integral parts of the political symbolism and ritual practice of the Tang rulers. During the early years of his own reign, Xuanzong produced steles placed at the tombs of his father-in-law and two imperial princesses, at the Shaolin Monastery on Mt. Song, and at the Temple of Mt. Hua, which he visited in y n .93 Three years later, he set out for Mt. Tai, where he would conduct the feng and shan sacrifices and leave behind on the mountain an autographic monument marking a climax of imperial writing in premodern China.

R E T U R N TO MT. TAI Emperor Xuanzong presided over an era of cultural brilliance, Fig. 4 .1 3 . E m p re s s W u Z e tia n

but his old-age infatuation with the concubine Yang Guifei and

( 6 2 5 - 7 0 5 ; r. 6 9 0 - 7 0 5 ) , Stele

the disastrous An Lushan rebellion, which led to his abdication

o f th e Ascended Im m o rta l Heir A p p a re n t ( S h e n g x ia n t a i z i b e i) . 699. D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . P h o t o :SDZS, 8 :p i. 26.

in 756,have tainted his posthumous reputation. Xuanzong, whose personal name was Li Longji, first emerged on the stage of Chinese history in the aftermath of a violent coup that ended

the reign of his grandmother, Empress Wu. Following her abdication in 705, Emperor Zhongzong, whom she had displaced nearly twenty years earlier, returned to the throne. The luckless Zhongzong was poisoned in 710, probably by his own wife, who attempted to install one of her younger sons on the throne. At this point Li Longji, then known as the Prince of Chu, the third son of the deposed Emperor Ruizong, took action, leading a coup that restored his father to power. His decisive interven­ tion resulted in his elevation to the rank of heir apparent, and in 712 Ruizong ceded the throne to his son, who was then twenty-eight years old. Early in his reign Xuanzong launched a vigorous program of administrative and fiscal reforms that stabilized the dynasty. In a notable policy innovation that would be echoed grandly on Mt. Tai, he attempted to make the workings of his government open to scrutiny by allowing diarists to record the activities and discus­ sions at his court more freely than had been allowed in the past. At the urging of Zhang Yue (667-730), his most influential minister, Xuanzong revived several impe­ rial rituals that had fallen into disuse, including sacrifices to Heaven at the suburban altars outside Chang’an intended to symbolize the emperor’s status as the “Son of Heaven., , 94 In 724, led by Zhang Yue, officials at Xuanzong’s court, which had been moved that year to Luoyang, began submitting memorials calling on the emperor to undertake the most solemn of all rituals, thefeng and shan sacrifices at Mt. Tai. By the time Xuanzong reached the throne, the feng and shan sacrifices had been planned, and then canceled, by his great-grandfather Taizong and successfully conducted, though under circumstances that tainted their sanctity, by his grand­ parents Gaozong and Empress Wu. If any ruler would seem to have been eligible to perform the sacrifices, it was Taizong, who had made the Tang empire the military, political, and cultural center of East Asia. Nevertheless, in 631, when he was first asked by officials at his court to undertake the sacrifices, Taizong declined repeat­ edly, citing his fear of burdening the people in the areas through which he would pass on his way to the mountain. The next year “high ministers and the hundred officials, because the world enjoyed great peace and the four barbarian tribes had submitted, approached the palace tower to submit memorials requesting the feng and shan:’95 On the advice of his most trusted minister, Wei Zheng (580-643), who acknowledged Taizong, s achievements but warned him of the hardships the sacri­ fices would inflict on the people, the emperor once again refused.96 Finally, in 637, overriding further objections from Wei Zheng, Taizong ordered ritualists at his court to begin researching the proper method of conducting the sacrifices at Mt. Tai. After much disagreement over the details, which Wei Zheng was assigned to adjudicate, regulations for the feng and shan sacrifices were codified in 641 and a date was fixed for an imperial ascent of Mt. Tai the following year. The emperor set out on the journey eastward, but the appearance of an inauspicious comet compelled

him to cancel his plans and return to Chang’an. Continuing appeals from his offi­ cials led to a second attempt to conduct the sacrifices in 648, but this, too, came to naught when Taizong announced that military and financial pressures, as well as floods in the northeast, made the timing inappropriate for such an enterprise. Although Taizong never carried out the feng and shan sacrifices, discussions held during his reign articulated the generally acknowledged conditions necessary for their performance:domestic peace, submission of non-Chinese border states, the appearance of auspicious omens, good harvests, favorable economic conditions, and demonstrations of the ruler’s personal merit and virtue.97 Taizong, s successor, the sickly and somewhat weak-willed Emperor Gaozong, inherited from his father a powerful, well-administered, and prosperous empire. Following requests from his ministers, and the usual expressions of unworthiness from the emperor, Gaozong decided to perform the feng and shan sacrifices. He arrived at Mt. Tai in the twelfth month of 665 accompanied by a retinue of imperial relatives, high-ranking officials, soldiers, foreign envoys, and, most notably, his wife, Empress Wu. According to the Old Tang History (Jiu Tang shu), it was the empress who had secretly prodded Gaozong to conduct the sacrifices, planning to reserve for herself a prominent role in the ceremonies.98 On the first day of the first month of 666, Gaozong personally conducted the feng sacrifice dedicated to the Supreme Lord on High at the base of the mountain and again on the sum m it." After his descent, as he prepared to conduct the shan sacrifice, Empress W u seized her opportunity. While the spirits of Gaozu and Taizong had been designated as the pei (associated deities) of thefeng sacrifice, their consorts were named the pei of the shan sacrifice, which was to be conducted on the small hill known as Mt. Sheshou, two miles from the foot of Mt. Tai.100Empress W u argued that because the associated deities were female, it was fitting that she and other women of the imperial court should participate in carrying out the rituals. Acced­ ing to his wife’s demands, Gaozong silenced the objections of his advisers. After making his own offering to the earth deity, he retired from the scene as Empress W u and other ladies, shielded by curtains of embroidered silks held by eunuchs, became the first female participants in the feng and shan sacrifices in Chinese his­ tory. Officials looking on from a distance ridiculed the sight.101 In spite of this shocking departure from tradition, Gaozong’s use of writing at Mt. Tai followed precedents established during the Han dynasty. For both the feng and shan sacrifices, he had jade tablets inscribed with imperial announcements and buried them under the altars.102 Like the First Emperor of Qin and the Han emper­ ors W u and Guangwu, the Tang ruler also left behind on Mt. Tai stone inscriptions to document his visit. The texts of these monuments, placed at the altars for thefeng and shan sacrifices and at an altar where Gaozong received the congratulations of

his minister after the rituals, were not recorded in the dynastic history, and no traces of them remain at Mt. Tai.103 The reactions of later historians to Gaozong’s visit to Mt. Tai reflect the seem­ ing impossibility of achieving a proper balance of worthiness and humility expected of rulers who undertook ihefeng and shan sacrifices. In the eyes of Liu Xu (887-946) and the other compilers of the Old Tang History,Gaozong “depended on the great achievement of Wen (Taizong) and merely preserved what was left of his rank. He conducted the feng at Mt. Tai and sacrificed to Heaven, but his virtue was not of the same class.”104 Caving in to Empress Wu's demands that she and other women par­ ticipate in the rituals also marred Gaozong’s visit to Mt. Tai in the eyes of his impe­ rial successors. W u Hung has argued that one of Xuanzong's goals in undertaking ihefeng and shan sacrifices was to reestablish the ritual correctness disrupted by Empress Wu's violation of tradition and to signify the reestablishment of the legitimate male lineage of Tang rulers.105 Following the expected pattern, however, Xuanzong had to be asked several times by Zhang Yue and other ministers before agreeing to set a date for the journey to Mt. Tai. In a document announcing his intentions, he con­ fessed his shortcomings in comparison with his ancestors;but, surveying the state of his empire, he found it to be good: Now the hundred grains have abundant yearly harvests, and the five elements bring no misfortunes. Punishments are not used; ritual and righteousness greatly flourish. Harmonious essences spread their mists, and pure breezes bring tranquility. The Man, Yi, Rong, and Di [barbar­ ians] of various regions and different races, along with their interpret­ ers, arrive daily and monthly at my palace, bringing strange beasts and precious birds, the waters of sweet dews and pure streams. Exhaustive auspicious signs and unsurpassable omens appear day and night in my groves and gardens. Princes, dukes, ministers, and officials exhaust their sincerity w ithin the court, while erudite masters and eminent scholars offer their writings beyond. There is none who does not feel that the spirits of Heaven and Earth are in agreement, and the common people are of one mind with us.106 (4C) As in every earlier case of preparing for thefeng and shan sacrifices, disagree­ ments arose over how they should be conducted. Although most of the participants in these debates agreed that the rituals should follow the specifications that had been compiled under Taizong and implemented, w ith slight modification, by Gaozong, the question of whether the emperor should first pray to Heaven or first

burn offerings in the feng sacrifice became the most difficult issue to resolve. It was Zhang Yue who cut this Gordian knot by arguing that it really did not matter. In a memorial to Xuanzong, Zhang stated:“In the case of all sacrifices, it is basically the heart that must govern, and if the heart [is sincere], then it will be in communion with Heaven and Earth and with the celestial and terrestrial deities. Whether to first burn the offering or to burn it afterward can be decided by your sagely will. Whatever your sagely w ill decides, it w ill be in communion with the spirits.”107 Zhang Yue also advocated a policy of “assessing affairs and making changes on the spot” that would allow the emperor the freedom to improvise details of the ceremo­ nies as he saw fit. Rather than lessening the importance of the sacrifices, Zhang Yue’s recommendations increased their political significance:by shifting power away from ritual specialists, who in the past had exerted enormous control over the symbolic interpretation and the implementation of the sacrifices, Zhang Yue made Xuanzong the undisputed master of these events and completed a transformation of what had been secret rites into public acts of political theater. The debates over ritual resolved or deferred until the actual ceremonies on Mt. Tai, Xuanzong set out from Luoyang. The scale of his procession, which stretched for several .miles, apparently exceeded that of Gaozong and Empress Wu. Seen from afar, the tens of thousands of horses in the procession, arranged by color into units, were said to have looked like clouds of brocade. Although Xuanzong had given strict orders that no unnecessary hardships should be inflicted on the populace, the bur­ den of supplying the imperial entourage exhausted the resources of the countryside through which it passed.108Up until his arrival at the base of Mt. Tai, on December 16,725, Xuanzong’s journey had gone smoothly, but suddenly a great wind arose from the northeast, frightening the imperial party and blowing down their tents. Zhang Yue, never missing an opportunity to turn unexpected events into political capital, explained that the foul weather was nothing more than the Spirit of the Ocean coming to welcome Xuanzong. As if on cue, the wind soon calmed, and on the morning of Xuanzong’s ascent of Mt. Tai the weather was clear and mild. Because Xuanzong did not wish to disturb the sanctity of the mountain, he started up on horseback accompanied by only a few attendants. The entire route was lined, however, by soldiers;their watch fires, seen from below, looked like linked stars reaching to the sky. The round altar built for the feng sacrifice on Solar Obser­ vatory Peak (Riguan feng) at the top of the mountain had staircases at each of the four cardinal directions.10^ On this altar, assisted by his brothers, the Prince of Bin and the Prince of Ning, Xuanzong offered meat and wine to the Supreme Lord on High and to the associated deity, Gaozu. To the southeast of the altar was another structure, on which firewood had been piled to burn offerings of jade implements and silks. As flames rose after the emperor personally ignited the pyre, the attend­

ing officials cried out, “Ten thousand years.” The sound of their voices could be heard at the base of the mountain, “shaking Heaven and Earth., , 110The next day, using a similar ritual, Xuanzong conducted the shan sacrifice at Mt. Sheshou, designating his father, Ruizong, as the associated deity. On the third day, the emperor concluded the proceedings at Mt. Tai by holding an audience to accept the congratulations of his entourage.

W R I T I N G A N D R I T U A L ON MT. TAI In his analysis of the structure of rituals, Edmund Leach describes the paiticipant's passage through a transitional zone of experience, a crossing of boundaries between social or metaphysical spaces of one state and another.111When he ascended Mt. Tai after purifying himself on the eve of the feng sacrifice, Emperor Xuanzong enacted a crossing of boundaries that carried him up the mountain and into a state of ritual communion with the Supreme Lord on High and with the spirits of his ancestors. This state was achieved and maintained for the duration of the sacrifice by the use of meticulously prepared implements and costumes, as well as by spoken or sung invocations and gestures performed by the emperor and those assisting him. After he descended the mountain and completed the shan sacrifice at Mt. Sheshou, Xuanzong reentered the space of the everyday world. But the writing he left behind on Mt. Tai, like that placed on the mountain by his predecessors, main­ tained a state of suspension between sacred and mundane zones, a permanent opening, like a door kept ajar, through which the emperor’s communication with a world of spirits could continue to flow. The forms of writing through which Xuan­ zong achieved this state of suspension— jade tablets and stone carvings— were the same as those used by earlier rulers, but his methods of using texts in these media were new:not only did he openly display his announcement to Heaven inscribed on the tablets and have its text entered in the permanent documentary history of his reign, but he also transformed the mountain itself into a surface for a colossal display of his handwriting. Like the inscribed jade tablets bearing messages to the spirits of Tang impe­ rial ancestors that were used in rituals at their tombs,112the tablets for the feng and shan sacrifices carried to Mt. Tai by Xuanzong were a form of correspondence between the emperor and the forces of an unseen world, from which, on many occasions in the history of earlier dynasties, written communication was believed to have been transmitted. These miraculous textual portents usually appeared in the form of inscribed seals or stones, such as the Heavenly Seal that inspired Sun Hao to change his reign title and to carve the Stele of the Heavenlp Omens in the third century.113

Written messages of allegedly supernatural origin also had appeared at important junctures in the history of the Tang dynasty. Shortly before he founded the dynasty, Gaozu was presented with a portent in the form of a lapis lazuli tortoise bearing characters written in a mysterious red pigment reading:“The Li w ill rule for a thousand generations.” In 620 another stone tortoise came to light bearing the inscription KThe empire is at peace and your descendants w ill flourish a thousand myriad years.”114 Shortly after Taizong announced that Gaozong would be his suc­ cessor, an inscribed stone was found proclaiming that the dynasty would enjoy long life. Interpreting this as a heavenly endorsement of his choice of an heir, Taizong took care to mention the omen during the suburban sacrifices in 643.115 Empress W u also acquired a portent, most likely fabricated by her nephew W u Chengsi, in the form of an inscribed stone found in the Luo River in 688. Its astonishingly apt legend read:“A sage mother shall come to rule mankind ;and her imperium shall bring eternal prosperity.”116 The jade tablets buried at Mt. Tai during the feng and shan sacrifices directed written communication in the other direction, from the world of men into the world of spirits.117Beginning with Emperor W u of the Han dynasty, who buried the tablets from his first performance of the feng sacrifice, the texts inscribed on these ritual objects had been kept secret. But before the tablets used by Emperor Xuanzong were to be buried, he asked a dramatic question: “As to the text of the jade tablets, why did rulers of earlier dynasties keep them secret?” [He] Zhizhang (659-744) replied:“The jade tablets originally were intended to establish communication with divine spir­ its. The requests of the rulers of earlier dynasties were each different. Some prayed for long life;others hoped to become immortals. These matters were secret, and therefore no one knew about them.” Xuanzong responded, “Today I carry out these acts entirely for the sake of bless­ ings for my people and have no secret requests. It is proper therefore to bring out the jade tablets and display them to the hundred officials to let them know my intentions.”118 (4D) In accordance with Xuanzong's orders, the tablets, which had been incised and inlaid with gold, were taken out and shown to the officials who had accompanied him to Mt. Tai and were eventually copied into the Old Tang History: I,your servant, inheritor of the rank of Son of Heaven of the Tang dynasty, dare to make this announcement to the Supreme Lord on High. Heaven has opened the way for our Li clan, and fate has brought

us triumph by virtue of the element Earth. Gaozu and Taizong received the mandate and established the highest perfection. Gaozong ascended the central position, and the six directions flourished. Zhongzong rees­ tablished his position, and the continuity of the dynasty was grandly fixed.119 The Lord on High has given me benevolent protection and conferred on me loyalty and martial spirit. I was able to pacify internal difficulties and thereby honored my sagely father. Since I respectfully inherited the great treasure, thirteen years have passed. I have rever­ ently conformed to the w ill of Heaven, and all w ithin the four seas are peaceful. I conduct thtfeng sacrifice at Mt. Tai to offer thanks to Heaven for my success. May my sons and grandsons have every happiness, and may the people receive blessings.120 (4E) After the tablets had been displayed, they, along with jade slips used in the prelimi­ nary feng sacrifice at the base of the mountain, were placed in jade boxes, tied with gold cords, and sealed with gold paste, on which was stamped an imperial seal. The boxes were then placed inside a stone coffer, also sealed with gold, and stamped with a seal reading:“In all the world, unified writing.”121 Although Xuanzong is said to have followed the same procedure for the shan sacrifice, it is unclear whether or not he displayed the jade tablets addressed to the earth deity, and their text was never recorded in any historical source. Several times in later centuries, however, jade tablets and other ritual imple­ ments used by Xuanzong were unearthed on Solar Observatory Peak. On each occa­ sion, these artifacts were reburied on imperial orders. In 1931, soldiers clearing the rubble of a collapsed pagoda on Mt. Sheshou (also known as Mt. Haoli) came upon the tablets used in the shan sacrifice by Emperor Xuanzong and those used in 1008 by Emperor Zhenzong (r. 997-1022) of the Song dynasty, the last ruler to perform the feng and shan rituals.122 Now preserved in the National Palace Museum, the tablets from Xuanzong’s time are not jade but a fine white marble, of the same type used for Tang dynasty Buddhist statues. The fifteen pieces of stone, each 29.2 centi­ meters long, together bear 155 characters (fig. 4.14). The text echoes that carved on the tablets buried at the top of the mountain in the feng sacrifice: In the thirteenth year of the Kaiyuan era, an yichou year, in the eleventh month, of which the first was a xinsi day, on the eleventh, a xinmao day, your successor as Son of Heaven, your servant Longji, dares to make this announcement before the Imperial Deity of the Earth:Your servant, having succeeded to the preservation of the vast name, holding fast to this magnificent fate, has followed the righteousness of Earth in order

to be the guide to the people. Morning and evening [I have] offered wor­ ship, to the point of exhaustion, never daring to rest. [I have] relied upon the primal Earth spirit, which has granted auspicious protection, pro­ vided plants of every variety, and annually yielded rich harvests. I have expanded this timely tour [to Mt. Tai] and reverently offered, by means of jade and silk, a complement of sacrificial animals, vessels of millet, and various delicacies to complete the Yi burial ritual and to demon­ strate my utter sincerity. Great Sage, Perfect August Emperor Ruizong, as associated deity, may you accept my offerings.123 (4F) Although Xuanzong would no doubt be appalled to learn that one of the sets of inscribed tablets he buried at Mt. Tai has been desecrated by the hands of modern looters, his original decision to display the tablets for (he feng sacrifice dispelled some of the mystery that had veiled these rites ever since the First Emperor had the direc-

Fig. 4 .1 4 . T a b le t s f o r t h e shan s a c r if ic e o f E m p e ro r T a n g X u a n z o n g (r. 7 1 2 —7 5 6 ) . 7 2 5 . M a r b le , 2 9 .2 c m h ig h . N a t io n a l P a la c e M u s e u m , T a ip e i.

tions for carrying them out “sealed and stored away” and Emperor Wu had carried out the feng sacrifice “entirely in secret.’, 124 By proclaiming that his mission was to secure blessing for his people, not to seek immortality or personal glory, Xuanzong was responding also to a challenge thrown down by Empress Wu in her argument for allowing female participation in the sacrifices. Heaping scorn on the outdated ritual policies of earlier times, the empress pointed out that in the past rulers who claimed to have conducted the sacrifices for the good of the empire were actually pur­ suing their own selfish quests for immortality or other private desires.125 Not only did Xuanzong’s display of the inscribed tablets for ihefeng sacrifice remove any doubts about his own intentions, his act extended to the performance of the rituals the policy of allowing his deeds and words to be recorded by official diarists at court. Paradoxically, the emperor’s openness had the effect of increasing, not lessening, his absolute authority:it was Xuanzong, not his advisers, who determined the conduct of both political and ritual policy.126 By making public his written correspondence with a supernatural readership, Xuanzong won the approval of the very forces to whom the texts were addressed. During the sacrifices multihued clouds hovered about the mountain, inspiring “the hundred princes and officials and the barbarian envoys to struggle to come forward to greet the emperor with their congratulations., ’127 On the day after ihefeng sacri­ fice, Zhang Yue reported an even more remarkable manifestation:a piece of writing in the form of a divine slip (ce) sent to the emperor from the Great Unity, the supreme cosmic deity. Zhang quoted this supernatural message as stating that a cycle was complete and that eternal peace for the people would ensue.128 The sources offer no further details on this scriptural omen, but the arrival of this text out of thin air led Xuanzong to prostrate himself in thanks. Because an essential function of the sacrifices at Mt. Tai was to announce to Heaven and Earth the achievements of the dynasty, both through ritual performances and through texts, it was fitting that celestial responses to these acts should include writing. In a proclamation issued the day after the shan sacrifice, Xuanzong refers to the heavenly conferred writing as “the great chapter” and cites the omen as a sign that the sacrifices were a success. Xuanzong capped his journey to Mt. Tai by granting the mountain the title “King Equal to Heaven.” He and his entourage then visited the city of Qufu, not far to the south, and conducted a ritual at the home of Confucius. They arrived back in Luoyang in the twelfth month (725). Xuanzong never returned to Mt. Tai, but his engagement with the mountain and with the production of writing there was not over. In the seventh month of 726, the emperor composed a lengthy text in the form of a prose preface and a rhymed ming (inscription), titled Inscription for the Record of Mt. Tai.129The calligraphy, presumably brushed on sheets of paper, was dispatched

to Mt. Tai and carved on Great Vista Peak (fig. 4.I5).130Unlike the tablets for th efen g and shan prepared in advance as prefigurations of the sacrifices, Xuanzong’s inscrip­ tion was a magnificent postface, a sum m ation of what he had achieved:





I have occupied the im perial rank for fourteen years, yet I am not vir­ tuous and I am ignorant of the perfect Way .1311 bore responsibility for what was difficult to bear, and pacified what was difficult to pacify.132 Now, I do not know if I have offended against Heaven above and the people below, and my heart is troubled as if I were about to cross a great river.133Thanks to the good fortune conferred by the Lord on High and to the blessings accumulated by my predecessors, my prime ministers and all my officials have united to cultivate imperial supremacy. A ll w ith in the four seas are in accord, and the five relationships are widely promulgated.134 Year after year brings a good harvest, and the people live in great harmony.

The hundred officials deliberated together, and the chorus of their voices exhorted me to perform thefeng and shan sacrifices, saying that to be filial, nothing is greater than to respect one, s father,135 and to observe ritual, nothing is more honored than to address prayers to Heaven. Auspicious omens had already arrived, and the expectations of the people had already mounted. They repeatedly made their requests without ceasing, and I repeatedly declined without their agreement. Thereupon, I,together with several of my ministers, investigated the “Canons of Yu” and researched the regulations of the Han. I deployed the Six Divisions (of the army) and shook the whole world. The flags and pennants were arrayed in order;the soldiers and horses kept silent. Solemnly and respectfully, orderly and flowing like a vast river, we arrived expeditiously at the “Great Ancestor” (Mt. Tai). The Erya states:“Mt. Tai is the Eastern Marchmount.” The Offices o f Zhou states:“It is the dom inant m ountain of Yanzhou., , 136 Truly, it is

the grandson of the Heavenly Lord, the dwelling of the assembled spirits. Its location is the point of origin of all things, and thus it is called Dai. Its position is that of the elder of the Five Marchmounts, and therefore it is called “ancestor.”137 In the past, when rulers received the Mandate of Heaven and established dynasties, they reported to

Fig. 4 .1 5 . E m p e r o r T a n g X u a n z o n g (r. 7 1 2 —7 5 6 ), In s crip tio n fo r th e Record o f M t. Tai (J i T a is h a n m in g ) . 7 2 6 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n in la id w it h g o ld , t o t a l h e ig h t 17.1 m . M t. T a i, T a i ,a n , S h a n d o n g . P h o t o :T a is h a n f e n g jin g m in g s h e n g q u g u a n li w e n y u a n h u i, Zhongguo Taishan, 1 3 1 ,fig . 132.

Heaven and Earth. They presented their achievements, enumerated them on charts and books, and recorded their clan names and titles. I continue the succession of rulers who have preceded me and follow their rules. This is truly because I wish to respond to the benevolence of Heaven and to pray for blessings for the m ultitude of my people. How dare I loftily set my sights on antiquity or compare myself to the Nine Sovereigns (of antiquity)! Therefore, I prepared an altar and an open space at the base of the m ountain and accepted the supplementary sacrificial offerings from the various directions. I personally conducted the feng sacrifice and burned offerings on the top of the m ountain, hoping through my in itia l offering to communicate w ith the spirits. This is in accord w ith the principle that from a high place one venerates Heaven, and at an open site one augments Earth. Thus, on the gengyin day of the second m onth of winter, I con­ ducted the rituals on the Eastern Marchmount. I offered the lei sacrifice to the Lord on High, w ith my Eminent Ancestor as the associated deity. Of the spirits of Heaven, there were none that did not descend. On the next day I conducted the shan sacrifice at (Mount) Sheshou, w ith my late father as the associated deity. I offered sacrifices to the Imperial Earth Deity. Am ong the spirits of Earth, there were none that did not arise. O n the day renchen,I held an audience w ith the host of princes and officials. The highest officials advanced and said :“The Son of Heaven has received heavenly omens and has been granted great bless­ ings. A ll your servants salute w ith raised hands and knock their heads on the ground, wishing you a thousand and ten thousand years of life•” Congratulations were exchanged and joy was m utual. I instructed them to be virtuous. That chaos has been ordered and social relations are well regu­ lated is thanks to the current merits of the three great ministers and the hundred officers. That all living things flourish in their season and the host of people attend to their norm al occupations is thanks to the current merit of the various provincial officials and m ultitude of local magistrates. My several brothers are steadfastly filial and fraternal and provide models for the ten thousand states. 0 happy age! Our classicists regulate the rites, our archivists compose ritual music, and Heaven and Earth proceed in harm ony . 〇 happy age! That the M an, Yi, Rong, and D i barbarian tribes w ith their interpreters come to offer tribute is thanks to the civilizing transformation of the previous

sages. How I revere it! That the five spiritual animals (unicorn, phoenix, tortoise, dragon, and white tiger) and the hundred treasures arrive daily and accumulate m onthly is thanks to the auspicious character of the age. How moved I am by it! From this time on, I w ill cautiously occupy the im perial rank, un ify the kingly statutes, regulate the ordinances, correct old regula­ tions, and amend inadequate policies. I w ill retain those that are simple and easy, and I w ill eliminate those that are troublesome and harsh. I w ill establish hum an perfection in myself, so that it w ill manifest the principles of Heaven. Ah! Heaven gives birth to the m ultitude of people, but it is only the ruler who is to govern.138W hen he is able to aid the world through excellent benefits, then he understands well how to serve Heaven. The Earth is munificent to all things, but it is only the ruler who is to give aid. W hen he can make all people live abundant lives, then he sees clearly how to serve Earth. W hen Heaven and Earth have been well understood and seen clearly, ghosts and spirits manifest themselves [through their blessings]. My cultivated grandfather and refined father~their pure spirits are in heaven. They say:“A h ,our young child, you have been able to worship the Lord on High, and the Lord in timely fashion sends fra­ grances down.WI39 Thereupon, I respond: “I ,Longji, great-grandson of Taizong, the Cultivated and Martial, of the house of Tang, was granted a new mandate. I w ill continue and expand the earlier achievements and w ill eternally preserve this heavenly favor, so that sons and grand­ sons w ill inherit it. I, your insignificant son, dare to respond w ith praise to the beautiful Mandate of Heaven and must also, along w ith the hundred officials of all ranks, continue to pray for the peace of the multitudes. I w ill try to surpass the achievements of my predecessors and cautiously prevent future misfortunes. If one m an does wrong, then people of all directions should blame me. If I persevere w ith determina­ tion, then the Lord on High w ill recognize me. I w ill treasure only three virtues, namely :benevolence, moderation, and hum ility. Benevolence is to examine unlim ited speech. Moderation is to set an example for people in the future. One who is haughty, people w ill bring dow n ;one who is humble, Heaven w ill benefit.140 If things are like this, then the precedents w ill be easy to follow, and the foundation w ill be easy to preserve. I [therefore] have polished a stone wall and carved this golden

record, so that later m en hearing m y words w ill know my heart, and observing the branch they w ill know the root. The inscription says: W hen Heaven gives birth to the people,141 It sets in place a ruler to govern them. "When the ruler receives the mandate, He serves Heaven as a son. Generations pass and do not remain,

People arrive without ceasing. Those of little virtue are extinguished, Those of lofty conduct are exalted. How grand was Gaozu!


How brilliant was Taizong!142 They replaced the rule of the Sui143 And took possession of the ten thousand states.144 Their domains spread to the borders of heaven, Their fiefdoms extended to the ends of the earth. Their m artial glory brought complete submission,145 Their civil virtues brought peace to their era. Gaozong studied antiquity, His virtue extended in all directions. Far and wide the Nine Barbarian^ Were suppressed w ith a single beat of the drum. In his conduct of ritual he completed th e feng and shan, In his achievements, he equaled Shun and Yu. Towering is Mt. Tai!146 Give delight to our divine spirit plaques.147 Zhongzong reestablished the succession, A nd the old state was made new.148 Ruizong continued his brilliance,149 And all the world returned to benevolence.150 Respectfully they faced south/51 In accord w ith the forces of nature they cultivated the people. The rituals announcing their success


Passed it down to posterity. Remembering that I am only their insignificant descendant, I reestablished the foundation of the Five Sages.152 It is not that my achievements are eminent Or that my virtues are abundant.


I respectfully conform to the canons of the sacrifices, And thus receive the eternal mandate.

If my utmost sincerity moves Heaven The m ultitude of my people w ill be blessed.

In antiquity those who performed thefeng sacrifice at Mt. Tai Numbered seventy-two rulers. ■ Some performed the shan at Yiyi,

Some performed the shan at Yunyun.153 Their traces cannot be seen, But their names can still be heard. [They conducted the sacrifices] To show respect for their cultivated ancestors154 A nd to glorify ancient accomplishments. [But] magicians made empty boasts, And Confucian books were fu ll of rigid details. Benighted rulers searched for immortality,

And made false use of the divine jade slips.155


[The Emperor of] Q in met calamity in the form of w ind and rain,1^6 [The Emperor of] H an defiled the register (of earlier sovereigns).157 Their virtue was not in accord w ith Heaven, And they were subjected to shame. The way [of sages] lies in good government, Fame does not come through personal desires.158 I carve the feelings of my heart on this sheer cliff And proclaim them to the host of peaks. Made under the Great Tang dynasty, the fourteenth year of the Kaiyuan

era, jing pin, the ninth month, of which the first day was yigai,the twelfth day, jingxu.159 (4G)



Emperor Xuanzong’s lengthy text is both a historical document, bristling w ith political and ideological assertions, and a display of religious and filial piety. As

a monument to his own achievements, Inscription for the Record ofMt. Tai reviews the successes of Xuanzong’s reign that inspired the requests that he perforin thefeng and shan. By naming and praising his imperial predecessors, the text also rectifies the his­ tory of the Tang dynasty. Xuanzong mentions Taizong, Gaozong, Zhongzong, and his father, Ruizong. Conspicuously absent from his text is the name of his grandmother, Empress W u, who had overthrown both the final two emperors, and Xuanzong alludes to Zhongzong’s return to power only in the phrase “reestablished the succession.”

Fig. 4 .1 6 . D ra g o n a n d c lo u d p a t t e r n s , In s crip tio n fo r the Record o f Mt. Tai, 7 2 6 . D e t a il o f fig . 4 .1 5 .

If W u Hung is correct in arguing that one of Xuanzong, s motivations for

performing the feng and shan was to reassert the legitimate male line of Tang rulers, then the emperor’s text on Great Vista Peak should be read as a spectacular expres­ sion of this rectification.160Although the preface is the lengthiest section of the text, it is the rhymed “inscription” that carried the greatest ritual significance, its tetra­ syllable meter and archaic phrases evoking the language of the stone inscriptions placed on Mt. Tai by the First Emperor and Emperor G uangw u, as well as the cadences of the announcements to Heaven and Earth inscribed on the tablets brought to the m ountain by Xuanzong himself. The density of allusions to canonical works

such as the Book of Odes and Book of Documents also marks the text as a highly for­ mulaic use of writing, paralleling in an ornate structure of words the ritualized acts of the feng and shan sacrifices. According to Martin Kern, such use of language in a ritual text, more than its actual content, “preserves and enforces the stability and continuity o f ... religious and social tradition., ’161 Dynastic stability and continuity were precisely the results that Xuanzong hoped to achieve, through ritual and through writing on Mt. Tai.

T H E H A N D OF T H E E M P E R O R Even before a reader grasps the content of Xuanzong’s inscription, its scale leaves no doubt that the words embody a message of supreme importance. But it is not only the large size of the characters, each about sixteen centimeters high, or the length of the text that produces an effect of visual grandeur. Like the text of the Great Col­ lection Sutra on Mt. Tie, Xuanzong, s words are framed by a representation of a giant stele. To produce this effect, the surface of the granite cliff was carefully smoothed and incised with a grid before the characters were added. Above the body of the text, the area rising to a pointed top provides a space for the stele heading;this shape, set apart visually from the surrounding untouched stone, resembles the top of a free­ standing stele in the shape of a gui tablet. Four large characters at the center, Ji Taishan ming, each forty-five centimeters high, announce the title of the virtual stele. Completing the design, in the position corresponding to that usually occupied on freestanding steles by two or more intertwined dragons, a single dragon stretches above the emperor’s words, its body framed by swirling clouds. On the left and right beneath the dragon, clouds support lotus-shaped bases holding candles and what may be a penjing, or “basin landscape” (fig. 4.16). The large characters reading “great view under heaven” (tianxia daguan) carved over the lower body of the dragon are superfluous additions carved during the Ming dynasty. Was the design of Xuanzong’s inscription inspired by the virtual stele on Mt. Tie, which lies only twenty-five kilometers from Qufu, where the emperor visited after conducting the sacrifices on Mt. Tai? There is no evidence that anyone paid the slightest attention to the carved sutra on Mt. Tie, or to the even more spectacu­ lar Diamond Sutra on Mt. Tai itself, during the Tang dynasty, when the carving of massive Buddhist texts had ceased. Although the Mt. Tie sutra could have offered a prototype for Xuanzong’s inscription, the carved stone monuments sponsored by earlier Tang rulers were more likely the models the emperor intended to emulate and to surpass. During the reigns of the first three Tang emperors一 Gaozu, Taizong, and Gaozong一 and that of Empress Wu, freestanding steles rose, literally, to new heights. Monuments exceeding five meters一 taller than any known steles from earlier periods— were placed at imperial tombs and associated burials and at shrines closely connected with the imperial family. One of the largest of early Tang steles is a rectangular monolith, 6.3 meters tall, erected by Empress W u in 684 in honor of her husband, Gaozong. This monument, which bears inscriptions on all four sides and is topped by a carved stone roof, stands at the Qianling, the tomb of Gaozong and the empress (fig. 4.17). Another stele of the same height dedicated to Empress W u and called the Wordless Stele (Wuzi bei), stands on the opposite side of the road leading to the tomb.162

Fig. 4 .1 7 . S te le a t t h e t o m b o f E m p e ro r T ang G aozong (r. 6 4 9 —6 8 3 ) a n d E m p re s s Wu (r. 6 9 0 - 7 0 5 ) . 6 8 4 . S to n e , 6 3 0 c m h ig h . Q ia n lin g , Q ia n C o u n ty , S h a a n x i. P h o t o : C o u r te s y o f C he n L i- w e i.

Empress W u was also the sponsor, and the calligrapher, for another massive stone carving, the Stele of the Ascended Immortal Heir Apparent, 5.3 meters high— a monument as unusual for the gender of its calligrapher as for its great size. This stele was a reminder of Empress W u ’s audacious attempt to restructure the ritual geography of China by naming the nearby Mt. Song the empire’s foremost sacred peak and by conducting a version of the feng and shan sacrifices on the mountain in 695.163 Destroying this inscription and others carved at the command of Empress W u would have been one way to expunge the religious and ideological taint they signified. But Xuanzong chose another method, fust as his performance of the feng and shan sacrifices at Mt. Tai expunged the memory of his grandmother’s disrup­ tion of dynastic and ritual order, his Inscriptionfor the Record ofMt. Tai, carved on the summit of the mountain, triumphantly asserted the political and ideological legit­ imacy of his rule and of his sacrifices on Mt. Tai, the scale of the inscription greatly surpassing that of the steles with which the empress had left her mark on Mt. Song and on other sites in the sacred landscape of China. In addition to the size of Xuanzong, s inscription, the feature of this monu­ ment that makes it unique among surviving moya inscriptions is the gold pigment

inlaid in the characters— a feature to which Xuanzong himself directs attention in his text (plate 17). The inlay was refurbished in 1959 and again in 1982, but gold had been applied to the stone centuries earlier. This is confirmed by a travel record composed in 1265 by Du Renjie, who mentions seeing traces of gold in the great Tang moya carving on Mt. Tai.164 Although this is the earliest reference, it is very likely that gold pigment of some kind was added to the characters shortly after they were carved in 726. Ornamented with gold, Xuanzong’s text continued a tradition, apparently as old as writing itself in China, of inlaying cast or carved writing with pigments or precious materials. On oracle-bone inscriptions from the Shang dynasty, pigments rubbed into the carved characters enhanced the legibility of the writing and, pos­ sibly, signified its portentous content.165 Likewise, thin sheets of gold inlaid in characters cast on bronze bells from the Eastern Zhou period made the writing more visible. At the same time, the gold increased the visual sumptuousness of these instruments as they were sounded in performances dedicated to the spirits of dead ancestors and, presumably, increased their efficacy as ritual implements. Characters inlaid with gold could confer ritual significance even upon objects that otherwise would appear to have served a purely utilitarian function, such as metal tallies that facilitated commerce during the Eastern Zhou period.166In later periods, colors were added to characters carved on epitaphs and other stone inscriptions, the surfaces of which sometimes were decorated with black lacquer. Thanks to the discovery of the inscribed tablets prepared for Wang Mang’s abortive performance of the feng and shan sacrifices, it is possible to locate the use of inlaid or pigmented writing in the same ritual context as that of Xuanzong’s inscription:had Wang Mang succeeded in carrying the tablets to Mt. Tai, the red pigments highlighting the characters would have joined the mounds of colored earth used to prepare the feng altar in establishing the polychromatic symbolism of the sacrifices. The gold inlaid in the characters of Xuanzong’s inscription not only made the text more legible and more visually arresting but also replicated on a monumen­ tal scale the use of gold on the tablets Xuanzong enshrined at Mt. Tai, establishing a material bond between the two formats of writing that paralleled their shared ritual significance.167 We know from the account in the Old Tang History that the tablets used in thefeng sacrifice, which are now lost, were inlaid with gold, and traces of gold foil are still visible in the characters on the white marble tablets from Xuanzong’s shan sacrifice discovered in 1931 (see fig. 4.14).168Because the tablets were carved before the emperor’s visit to the mountain, they were prefigurations of and, perhaps, inspirations for the spectacular application of gold on the smoothed face of Great Vista Peak, where Xuanzong, s writing became, in the eighth century, not only the largest imperial inscription ever produced but also the most sumptuous.

Facing south, the traditional orientation of a Chinese ruler seated on his throne, Xuanzong’s inscription might even be interpreted as a symbolic represen­ tation of the emperor him self^the face of the cliff analogous to the face of a ruler gazing out over his domains. But the most tangible bond between Xuanzong and the materiality of the inscribed monument is the calligraphy itself, in Xuanzong’s distinctive clerical script hand. For Tang viewers accustomed to reading stele inscrip­ tions from the brushes of earlier emperors (and Empress Wu), the connection between the visual embodiment of the text and its imperial author-calligraphy would have been instantly apparent. That Xuanzong chose to write in clerical script also would have conveyed subtle aesthetic and ideological messages to his readers. Following the collapse of the Han dynasty, clerical script was used for stone inscriptions under the short-lived kingdoms of the third and fourth centuries. Dur­ ing this same period, however, standard script, or kaishu, emerged as the most com­ mon script type for writing on stone. In comparison with those of clerical script, standard script characters are taller and more vertically oriented, strokes are more tightly and dynamically integrated, and the “concealed-tip” brush technique used in the beginnings and endings of strokes creates rounded silhouettes instead of the more squared or flaring shapes typical of clerical script. During the early Tang dynasty, the court calligraphers Yu Shinan, Ouyang Xun, and Chu Suiliang (596-658) synthesized the angular, architectonic forms of calligraphy from the Northern Dynasties and the supple, fluid brushwork of the Wang Xizhi style associated with southern China.169 This synthesis produced classic models of standard script still imitated by calligraphers today. Although, as we have seen, Emperor Taizong himself used running script for stele inscriptions, the great majority of inscriptions from the early Tang were written in the perfectly balanced, highly legible standard script developed at his court. According to the biography of Xuanzong in the Xuanhe Calligraphy Catalogue (Xuanhe shupu), compiled in the early twelfth century, it was in reaction to styles of standard script dominant at the Tang court that the emperor promoted a revival of archaic writing. This came about when Xuanzong noticed “that the calligraphy style of the Hanlin [Academy] was bound by fashions of the time. W ith sharp deter­ mination he did draft cursive and bafen and thereby cast off old habits.’’170 Draft cursive (zhangcad) was an abbreviated form of clerical script used during the Han dynasty; unfortunately, no traces of Xuanzong’s calligraphy in this script have survived. The precise meaning of the term bafen has been explained in various ways— the compilers of the Xuanhe Calligraphy Catalogue themselves note that the meaning of the term changed over time.171Generally, bafen refers to the classic form of clerical script of the Han dynasty, displayed in works such as the Stele ofShi Chen (Shi Chen bei;fig. 4.18) that feature squarish character compositions and flaring,

wavelike horizontal strokes. Avoiding the problem of how bafen relates to the more general term lishu, the compilers of the Xuanhe Calligraphj; Catalogue go on to offer an account of Xuanzong, s interest in this script type: Although this way [of writing] was ancient, it was not the script com­ monly used in the everyday world, and for this reason no one had talked about it for a long time. In the Kaiyuan period of the Tang dynasty, the ruler of that time (Xuanzong) was displeased to know that clerical script characters had not been transmitted and that there was no model for later study. He therefore ordered the compilation of the Character Systems (Zitong) in forty chapters, exclusively to illuminate clerical script.172 (4H) Xuanzong’s project of reviving clerical script, including the composition of his now lost Character Systems, was backed by authority and resources that no other calligra­ pher could command, but neglect of this form of writing during the early Tang period was not as complete as this account from the Xuanhe Calligraphy Catalogue would suggest.173 Even during the heyday of Tang standard script in the seventh century, inscriptions in clerical script continued to be written. The great master of standard script Ouyang Xun occasionally wrote in clerical script, as seen in his Stelefor Fang Yanqian (Fang Yanqian bei) of 631.174 Yin Zhongrong (active ca. 650-674), who specialized in clerical script, was active at the court of Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu and wrote stele inscriptions for the tombs of several prominent figures buried at the Zhaoling, the tomb of Taizong.175 Yin, s calligraphy displays the same buoyant wave strokes, flaring diagonals, and squared end­ ings of pie strokes moving downward toward the left seen in stele inscriptions of the Eastern Han, Wei, and Western Jin (fig. 4.19). In addition to carved steles, at least one moya inscription of the early Tang, Record of the Wall of the Eastern C/肌 Dongyanbi ji) by Cui Yi (active early eighth century), was carved in a mixture of seal and clerical script in 719 at the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit一 legendary home of Monkey (Sun Wukong) in Jiangsu.176 Even though clerical script had not been forgotten during the early Tang, Emperor Xuanzong’s activities as a calligrapher and patron conferred new significance on this form of calligraphy. The key point, noted in the Xuanhe

Fig. 4 .1 8 . Stele o f Shi Chen (S h i C he n b e i) . 169. D e t a il o f in k r u b ­ b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . P h o to : SDZS, 2 :p i. 100.

Fig. 4 .1 9 . y in Z h o n g ro n g ( a c t iv e c a . 6 5 0 —6 7 4 ), Stele fo r Li Shenfu. 6 5 1 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . P h o t o :SDZS, 8 :1 8 7 .

Fig. 4 .2 0 . Stele o f the Temple o f th e Western Sacred M ountain, Mt. Hua (X iy u e H u a s h a n m ia o b e i) . 165 . In k r u b ­ b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . P h o to :Zhongguo m eishu q u a n ji: shu fa z /iu a n k e bian, 1 :p i. 86.

Calligraph];Catalogue, was the contrast between this script and “the fashions of the time.” Like the archaic, ritual language of Xuanzong’s Inscriptionfor the Record ofMt. Tai, the clerical script in which the text was written set it apart from everyday usage. Historically, this effect followed the same logic that had once made clerical script itself look modern. In his Calligraphy Forces ofthe Four Scripts (Si ti shu shi), Wei Heng (d. 291) explains that after the rise of clerical script during the Han, seal script was used only on objects of ceremonial or ritual value such as tallies, seals, pennants, and memorial tablets.177 Stele headings were another format in which seal script functioned visually as an antique or ornamental mode of writing. On the Stele of the Temple of the Western Sacred Mountain, Mt. Hua (Xiyue Huashan miao bei), erected in 165,the body of the text is in clerical script, and at the top of the stone the title is written in seal script (fig. 4.20). Like the masthead of a modern newspaper printed in archaic gothic letters, the title crowns the text it identifies with an air of antique gravity. Once it had been replaced by standard script as the most commonly used script for public writing, clerical script itself was “pushed back,” transformed into an old-fashioned mode of calligraphy and imbued with some of the same associa­ tions that seal script acquired when it had been “archaized” during the Han. Emperor Xuanzong’s use of clerical script conferred on the carved texts he wrote a flavor of antiquity that writing in standard script styles could not evoke. But the emperor’s use of this script should be seen as something more than an aes­ thetic choice:his handwriting, like everything else connected to the person of the ruler, could be the source of political and ideological messages. Departing from the

“fashions of the time,” Xuanzong also departed from the calligraphic styles of his imperial predecessors. Instead of brushing characters in the fluid, suave running script developed by Taizong through his study of Wang Xizhi and used by his suc­ cessors as a Tang imperial “house style, , , 178Xuanzong favored clerical script charac­ ters written in slow, deliberate strokes and arranged in orderly compositions. Though used by the sagely Taizong in his stone inscriptions, running script was no longer a suitable model for imperial writing owing to its association with the usurping Empress Wu, who had written the texts for monuments she sponsored in this style. Just as his performance of the feng and shan sacrifices asserted ritual and dynastic legitimacy, Xuanzong’s calligraphy marked a new beginning, a visual embodiment of the vigorous young ruler’s intellectual and moral independence. Although the text of his inscription on Mt. Tai pays tribute to his ancestors, his calligraphy dis­ tances Xuanzong from them and from the shortcomings of their reigns. Ironically, by the middle of the eighth century, the archaizing effect of Xuanzong’s writing was diluted by the widespread use of clerical script, set in motion by the emperor himself. Quoting an old saying from Chang’an to the effect that “when they like tall hairdos in the capital, in the four quarters [of the nation] they wear them one foot high, , ,the epigrapher Ye Changchi pointed out that during Xuanzong’s time, half of all steles were in clerical script.179What began, early in his reign, as the emperor’s reaction against prevailing tastes in calligraphy established a new orthodoxy for public writing. Ultimately, the significance of the Inscriptionfor the Record ofMt. Tai, like that of any imperial autographic monument, derives from the identity of the calligrapher. Although not brushed directly on the mountain by Xuanzong— the idea of the emperor clambering up a ladder or scaffolding to produce the writing is absurd— the characters replicate the emperor’s own brush-written calligraphy, traced and carved by expert craftsmen. Early accounts cite no specific models for the emperor’s study of clerical script, though the structure of his characters recalls the squat, blocky forms of Eastern Han stele inscriptions.180 His tendency to write elements such as the “mouth” radical (kou) with concave strokes and his practice of ending pz.estrokes with blunt, squared-off shapes also reflect his knowledge of third-century inscriptions such as the Stele Commemorating Three Imperial Visits to the Biyong from the Western Jin (figs. 4.21-4.22). What distinguishes Xuanzong’s clerical script from earlier works, however, is his use of rounded, centered-tip brushwork. This effect in Xuanzong’s calligraphy also makes it different from that of clerical script specialists of the early Tang such as Yin Zhongrong, whose brushwork displays sharper, more angular shapes. Although the inscribed tablets from Xuanzong*s shan sacrifice are not spe­ cifically identified as his calligraphy, the clerical script characters resemble those of the stone inscription. There are, however, subtle differences. The characters on

Fig. 4 .2 2 . Stele C om m em orating Three Im p e ria l Visits to the Biyong. 2 7 8 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e s t e le . P h o to :SDZS, 3 :p i. 90.

Fig. 4 .2 1 . E m p e ro r X u a n z o n g (r. 7 1 2 —7 5 6 ), In s crip ­ tio n fo r the Record o f M t. Tai. 7 2 6 . D e t a il o f in k r u b b in g f r o m a s to n e i n s c r ip t io n . P h o t o :Taishan shike daquan, 1:170.

the tablets tend to be squarer and do not display the same consistent use of centeredtip brushwork seen in the stone inscription. The endings of downward strokes to the left in characters such as zi (son) and ming (name) are more pointed;other ele­ ments, such as the silk radical, are written with closely integrated, tapering strokes like those used in standard script. The stylistic contrasts between the Inscriptionfor the Record ofMt. Tai and the tablets likely are traces of different hands. In particular, the sharp, upward-pointing tips used to complete pie strokes on the tablets closely resemble the same motif in calligraphy by Shi Weize (active ca. 712-750) (cf. figs. 4.23 and 4.24), one of the calligraphers of the Kaiyuan era said to have been influ­ enced by Xuanzong and to have excelled at clerical script. The resemblance between calligraphy by the emperor and by Shi Weize brings to mind a much-quoted comment about the Inscriptionfor the Record ofMt. Tai: accord­ ing to Wang Shizhen (1526-1590), a poet and literary theorist of the Ming dynasty

who visited Mt. Tai three times, “Yan and Xu edited the words;Han and Shi touched up the brushwork.”181 The Duke of Yan was Zhang Yue, Xuanzong’s chief adviser, who accompanied him to Mt. Tai; the Duke of Xu, Su Ting (670-727), held the rank of vice president of the Chancellery and also accompanied Xuanzong to the moun­ tain. Han Zemu (active ca. 712-750) and Shi Weize were calligraphers who special­ s comment, which seems to be based on an ized in clerical script. Wang Shizhen, older but unidentified source, raises the question of whether or not Xuanzong used ghostwriters, not only for composing texts but also for producing calligraphy. It is likely that he did. Don Meng (active ca. 775) notes that during Xuanzong’s reign stele inscriptions were traced for engraving “by scholars of that time” in the style of the emperor.182Among the ranks of these copyists capable of imitating his hand, which may have included Han Zemu and Shi Weize, there surely were calligraphers to whom the emperor could have assigned the laborious task of transcribing lengthy texts such as the Inscription for the Record ofMt. Tai. Xuanzong’s most ambitious cal­ ligraphic project, a transcription of the Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing) with com­ mentary by the emperor carved on a set of stones in 745,almost certainly was carried out with the help of assistant calligraphers (fig. 4.25).183What his assistants

Fig. 4 .2 3 . T a b le ts

( a c t iv e c a . 7 1 2 —

f ic e o f E m p e ro r

7 5 0 ). Stele fo r the

T a n g X u a n z o n g (r.

Chan M aster Dazhi

7 1 2 -7 5 6 ). 725.

( D a z h i c h a n s h i b e i) ,

D e t a il o f in k r u b ­

7 3 6 . D e t a il o f in k

b in g f r o m a n

r u b b in g f r o m a

in s c r ip t io n o n m a r ­

s to n e s te le . P h o to :

b le (s e e f ig . 4 .1 4 ).

SDZS, 8 :p i. 110.

N a t io n a l P a la c e M u s e u m , T a ip e i.


Fig. 4 .2 4 . S hi W eize

f o r t h e shan s a c r i­

produced, however, was not an independent display of their own styles:serving as a ghostwriter demanded that a calligrapher suppress his own habits of writing in order to imitate those of the emperor. Like a brush held in Xuanzong’s hand, an assistant calligrapher was an extension of his will, a means of efficiently producing a calligraphic product made according to the emperor’s specifications. Whether or not ghostwriters assisted Xuanzong in producing the Inscription for the Record ofMt. Tai is less important than the words carved on Great Vista Peak announcing that the monument was “imperially composed and imperially transcribed.” Rhetorically, the inscription became part of a seamless ritual performance starring Xuanzong himself. It was he who traveled to Mt. Tai, ascended the sacred mountain, burned offerings, fine-tuned thefeng and shan sacrifices according to his “sagely will,” and addressed the deities of Heaven and Earth. And it was he who willed into existence the inscription in his own calligraphic style, changing forever the face of Mt. Tai.

Fig. 4 .2 5 . E m p e ro r X u a n z o n g (r. 7 1 2 —7 5 6 ), Classic o f F ilial Piety. 7 4 5 . D e t a il o f in k r u b ­ b in g f r o m a s to n e s te le . F o re s t o f S te le s , X i ,a n . P h o to : SDZS, 8: p i. 91.

C h a p t e r Five


Few visitors changed the landscape of Mt. Tai as dramatically as Emperor Xuanzong, but he was only one of millions who have been drawn to the slopes of the sacred mountain.1In the centuries following the carving of the emperor’s great inscrip­ tion, Mt. Tai became a magnet for common people seeking blessings from gods and goddesses enshrined on the mountain ;it was a destination also for highly educated travelers who combined religious observances with the pleasures of viewing scen­ ery or investigating historic monuments. Arriving at Mt. Tai around the year 1628, Zhang Dai (1597-1684?), a young man from a privileged and scholarly background, belonged to a class of elite tourists who devoted their considerable leisure time to travel. Although Zhang availed himself of the services of a package-tour operator, who arranged his lodging and his ascent of the mountain in a sedan chair, we learn from his travelogue that Zhang fastidiously kept himself aloof from the hordes of coarse pilgrims with whom he was forced to share the experience of traveling up Mt. Tai. Well-versed in the history of art, Zhang likened the grotesque beggars who lined the route to the summit to figures in hell scenes painted by the Tang master W u Daozi (ca. 710-ca. 760). Other sights on Mt. Tai also affronted Zhang’s refined sensibilities: The beggars were only one of two abominations;the other was the visitors, disgusting habit of inscribing on rocks as well as on the tablets they erected such trite phrases as “Venerated by ten thousand generations” or “Redolence continuing for an eternity.” The beggars exploited Mt. Tai for money, while the visitors exploited Mt. Tai for fame. The land of Mt. Tai, once pure, was now everywhere desecrated by these two groups.2

The mopa inscriptions on the mountain that offended Zhang were part of a constantly growing network of writing spreading across the landscape of China. This ongoing graphic transfiguration of the natural terrain had been set in motion much earlier at the sites discussed in this book and was poised, in the late Ming dynasty, to become ever more pervasive in the centuries leading up to our own time. Zhang Dai’s complaints about the habit of writing on landscape were not unique_ other critics of his own time and later shared his distaste for what one called “the scraping and gouging of ignorant monks and vulgar scholars.”3Although the aesthetic judgment of those who disliked inscriptions cannot be subjected to quantitative evaluation, the phenomenon to which they objected was very real, as a visit to nearly any famous mountain or historic site in China confirms:everywhere one looks there is writing.


Critiques of these ubiquitous outdoor texts echo complaints that have some­ times been made about the poems, colophons, and seals added to Chinese paintings. But just as the history of Chinese art would have been vastly different without the interventions of colophon writers and those who stamped seals on paintings, phys­ ically altering the works that passed through their hands and, at the same time, shaping how the images in the paintings were interpreted by later viewers, the his­ tory of innumerable places in the cultural landscape of China would be, quite liter­ ally, a void without the accumulations of carved texts in which they are cloaked. If inscriptions were to be stripped from the stones of Cloud Peak Mountain, Mt. Tie, or Mt. Tai, these sites, now bristling with meaning, would sink back into the undif­ ferentiated oneness of nature, beautiful in its pristine state but separate from the domain of human culture. A full account of the later history of moya inscriptions would require several books, but it is possible to consider briefly at the end of this one how the inscriptions we have examined from early and medieval China figured in what gradually became ,a vast cultural enterprise of inscribing the natural world. It is no easier to offer a single explanation for why this happened than it is to explain why Chinese archi­ tecture is based on modular units of columns and bracketing, why landscape has been such an important subject in Chinese painting, or why printing was invented in China rather than elsewhere. It is possible to isolate, however, at least three inter­ related historical phenomena that powerfully shaped the history of writing in landscapes from the eleventh century onward. These are the formation of literati culture during the Song dynasty; the development of antiquarian and epigraphic research, or jinshixue, which also began in the Song and flourished again in a differ­ ent form during the Qing dynasty;and the continuing desire of Chinese rulers to produce spectacular visual signifiers of their power.

N A M E S A N D N A MI N G Although the story of how texts multiplied and collectively determined the identi­ ties of landscapes is different at each of the sites we have considered, the Stone Gate is a good place to begin, since the later history of writing there is a microcosm of how stone inscriptions were written and interpreted at many other places. Between the sixth and the eleventh centuries, only four inscriptions were carved in the vicinity of the Stone Gate. Between the years 1095 and 1230, during the Song dynasty, no fewer than forty-eight inscriptions were carved. The great majority of the Song inscriptions are radically different from the texts that had been placed inside the Stone Gate tunnel and in the surrounding landscape in earlier centuries;instead of road building and the merits of virtuous officials, they concern the outings of lite­ rati tourists. A typical example was carved on the west wall of the tunnel : Fan Nai, Ren Yisun, and Li K ui, in the dingsiyear of the Qingyuan reign period (1197), on the day after the Double Ninth Festival, came touring here.4 (5A) Another inscription on the west wall tells us: [two missing graphs] In the gengyin year of the Shaoding reign period (1230), Zhao Zongqi, accompanying his maternal uncle, Administrator [two missing graphs], came here.5 (5B)


A few Song inscriptions provide more details, mentioning wine drinking, picnics, or other pleasures enjoyed by those who visited the Stone Gate. Some are simpler, consisting of nothing more than a name and the words you (traveled) or lai (came)— phrases recalling the short inscriptions on Cloud Peak Mountain and Heavenly Column Mountain that record the wanderings of Zheng Daozhao. In the case of inscriptions containing multiple names, it is not clear who among the group did the writing, though some calligraphers are identified. These short texts from the Song dynasty carved at the Stone Gate are classi­ fied as timing, or “inscribed names,” in the Chinese nomenclature of epigraphy. Viewed in a broader perspective, they appear to belong to that universal genre of graffiti “so-and-so was here.” But the cultural and social contexts of their production made these inscriptions quite different from what is usually suggested by the idea of “graffiti” in the West. According to a definition in The Grove Dictionary of Art, graffiti refers to “an arrangement of institutionally illicit marks in which there has been an attempt to establish some sort of coherent composition.”6 Far from being

Fig. 5 .1 . S to n e in s c r ip t io n s o n M t. Fu, A n h u i. P h o t o :C o u r te s y o f A n - y i P a n .

institutionally illicit, however, many Song inscriptions at the Stone Gate proudly announce the official government posts held by the visitors they name. An inscrip­ tion from the first month of the year 1106 announces that Superior Prefectural Retainer Wen Yucong and County Magistrate Xianyu Xiang visited the site.7 An inscription from 1196 south of the Stone Gate records an outing shared by seven men in the company of County Magistrate Zhang Yin and Sheriff Li Shizhang, who “carried wine and came with them.” Although Magistrate Zhang and Sheriff Li clearly were not on official business when they joined the other men in a drinking party at the Stone Gate, the inclusion of their names confers on this inscription displayed in a public space the implicit sanction of local government.

Why were inscriptions of this kind written in such numbers at the Stone Gate during the Song dynasty? We know little about the condition of the Bao-Xie Road during this period, though roads farther west seem to have been more heavily traveled. Even if it were possible to show that commerce or military affairs chan­ neled travelers to the Stone Gate, the fact that people were passing through the tunnel would not explain the presence of the inscriptions. Making sense of why the texts were carved, as well as the nature of their contents, requires that we look beyond the Bao Valley to other places that quite suddenly became hot spots for carving moya inscriptions at precisely the same time. Consider the history of writ­ ing on Drum Mountain near Fuzhou (plate 18). Here, where no inscriptions from earlier periods can be found, a total of eighty-nine were carved between the years 1046 and 1249. Like the Song inscriptions from the Stone Gate, they consist of short records of outings to the mountain, though some include poems and essays running to fifty characters or longer. They are similar also to Song inscriptions found at Tiger H ill outside Suzhou, Mt. Jiao near Zhenjiang in Jiangsu, Mt. Fu in Anhui (fig. 5.1), Longyin Cave and Elephant Trunk Peak in Guizhou, and the Cave of the Three Travelers in Hupei, as well as Cloud Peak Mountain and Mt. Tai.8 The sudden popularity of inscribing names and short accounts of visits to scenic or historic sites that is detectable in the Song inventory of carved writing recalls the sudden proliferation of very different kinds of texts carved on stone during the Eastern Han period. The dramatic spike in the numbers of Han inscriptions, as we have seen, can be correlated with events in political history that made the medium of carved stone an important vehicle for the oblique expression of oppositional views and for the public demonstration of bonds linking the donors and honorees of inscrip­ tions. The rapid expansion of moya inscriptions during the Song also can be interpreted in relation to epochal changes in Chinese social and intellectual history. This is the period that witnessed the formation of a new class, or classes, of literate elite, usually known as shidafu, often rendered loosely in English as “literati.” These were men who, in the words of Robert Hymes, “initially defined themselves as a group from early in Northern Song through their relation to the state, particularly in the pursuit of examinations and office;and by the middle Southern Song they had settled into the counties and prefectures of south China as a locally rooted and largely self-ratifying elite.”9 Only a small proportion of those who took the civil service examinations set up by the Song state as a means of recruiting men for office entered public life.10 Nevertheless, acquiring the education necessary for the examinations, along with the intellectual and cultural accomplishments associated with officeholders, made elite status “more a matter of mutual recognition than of state grant” and allowed those who achieved this status “to claim a cultural and quasi-political authority indepen­ dent of the authority distributed through the pyramidal networks of the state.”11

The men who wrote Song moya inscriptions and whose names appear in their texts can be placed unambiguously w ithin the literati class, ranging from Prime Minister Li Gang (1083-1140), the eminent calligrapher and official Cai Xiang (1012-1067), and the philosopher Zhu Xi (1130-1200), all of whom wrote inscriptions on Drum Mountain, down to the minor local officials named at the Stone Gate and men who held no office— members of a class that Hymes has termed “lumpenliterati, ” whose aspirations and interests were patterned on those of their more eminent contemporaries. As a vast corpus of studies has shown, men who aspired to literati status during the Song frequently concerned themselves with the production, col­ lection, and connoisseurship of painting and calligraphy;they wrote poetry, built gardens, engaged in private historical research, and produced scientific texts and catalogues dealing with a wide range of material culture. It was engagement with such pursuits that was one of the elements of mutual recognition described by Hymes. To the list of characteristic embodiments of literati culture can be added, I believe, the mo^ia inscriptions that began to appear in large numbers during the Song period, especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Who visited scenic areas and historic sites? Literati in possession of the education and cultural sophistication to appreciate such excursions. By leaving behind their names at the sites they visited, these men signified to a public readership their participation in activities that defined their class, or the class with which they wished to be associated. Although only those at the higher reaches of the educated elite had access to collections of ancient paint­ ings and calligraphy, to which they could affix their colophons or poetic comments and in so doing demonstrate their cultural competence, anyone with a writing brush and the small amount of cash needed to pay a craftsman to carve a text could write on landscape. Cheaper and more convenient than erecting a stele but just as durable, moya inscriptions also registered the writer’s free-spirited independence:although many inscriptions were written near Buddhist temples, such as those on Drum Mountain, they generally were not within the walled spaces or courtyards where steles frequently were raised, nor were they subject to the ritual and geomantic specifications that governed the siting of carved monuments placed at tombs. The composition and economic structure of elite classes in later imperial China were not static, and the makeup of the Song literati, to continue to employ this vague but widely understood label, differed from that of the literati of later dynasties. Nevertheless, features of literati culture that took shape during the Song endured to the end of the imperial era and beyond.12Among these was the practice of inscribing names in landscape. Today, throughout China, virtually no site known as a mingsheng, or “famous place,” is devoid of inscribed names from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, their format and contents virtually identical to those of the

Song period; indeed, it is the presence of these names that makes a place famous. Zhang Dai’s reaction to the inscribed names he saw on Mt. Tai shows that the sheer numbers of inscriptions at famous places could, at least in the eyes of some, deflate their significance as products of elite culture— if local clerks and literati wannabes were writing their names on rocks, what claim to elite status could this vulgarized habit sustain? Nevertheless, the practice endured to the fall of the Qing dynasty and beyond. In 1916,the philosopher, political reformer, and calligrapher Kang Youwei wrote the following inscription on the summit of Mt. Tai: In the eighth month of the bingchen year, together Zheng Hao, Wang Jue, Ren Kuang, and Nan Song toured Mt. Tai and ascended to the high­ est point. [Signed] Kang Youwei.13 (5C) This early-twentieth-century commemoration of a shared visit to a famous site fol­ lows the same formula seen in inscriptions by Song literati;were it not possible to identify the men, and the hand of the famous calligrapher, the text would be impos­ sible to date. In addition to inscribed names and short statements about gazing at scenery, drinking wine, or contemplating the past, inscriptions from late imperial China include several other genres through which inscribers imposed memories of their visits and their poetic imaginations on landscapes. Inscriptions known as tijing, or “inscribing scenery, , ,consist of site names, poetic phrases, evaluations of scenery, and instructions for viewing. We encountered the most common of these categories, site names, among early inscriptions that label the Jade Basin and Stone Tiger (fig. 1.24) near the Stone Gate, in which the two-character name of the tunnel also was inscribed. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, as the expansion of com­ mercial and leisure travel brought ever greater numbers of visitors to famous places,14 travelers with vivid imaginations and ready brushes took pleasure in writing names such as “Stone Pillow” (fig. 5.2), “Immortal’s Shadow,” “Turtle Rock,” and “Elephant Trunk Peak” on boulders or oddly shaped cliffs. Often accompanied by the names of the viewers who chose these fanciful labels, the inscriptions point to the imagined resemblance

between natural geological formations and real or mythic people, creatures, and things. Like the flag of a colonizer claiming territory, the names assert power over the landscape, fixing, through the medium of the carved words, acts of imagination performed by viewers. Poetic phrases of the type that vexed Zhang Dai constitute another form of tijing found, everywhere in China but especially prevalent on Mt. Tai, which is bedecked with short phrases such as “Marvelous view under Heaven” (Tianxia qiguan), “Pines and gullies amid deep clouds” (Song heyun shen), and “In one glance all mountains become small” (Yi lanju shanxiao). Other 邙fn分inscriptions on Mt. Tai prompt responses to landscape by urging the viewer to “Listen to the stream!” (Ting quart) or “Look at the mountain from here” (Cong ci kan shan), while an inscription by Li Ba (jinshi degree, 1751) on Drum Mountain admonishes weary hikers, “Do not rest halfway up the road!” (Wu xi ban tu).15In addition to telling visitors what to see and hear, many inscriptions evaluate the surrounding scenery, ranking a stream on Mt. Heavenly Pond near Suzhou as “The number one stream in W un (Wu zhong dipi quart) and declaring Mt. Tai “First mountain under heaven” (Tianxia diyi shan), a title it is forced to share with various other peaks in China where exactly the same phrase 丑Iso appears.

R E A D I N G A N D W R I T I N G IN L A N D S C A P E To say that literati went into landscape to inscribe their names leaves unaddressed a basic question:how did they choose the sites they visited? Two inscriptions, from the years 1113 and 1196, suggest at least one possible answer. The first is carved on Cloud Peak Mountain : Qin Xian of Gaoyou and Feng Weiju of Xiluo together traveled to this divine mountain to read the moya stele of Zheng Wengong of the Wei. Because of this, we carved an inscription after it. Third year of the Zhenghe era (1113), last day of the tenth month.16(5D) The second inscription was carved on the west wall of the Stone Gate tunnel: On the third to last day of the third month of spring, in the bingchen year of the Qingyuan reign period (1196), Zhao Gongmao, Song Zizhi, Zhang Shouqing, Song Yongdao, [missing graph] and Gongmao’s two sons, Fu and Shan, came together to look at the Han inscriptions and drank three cups of wine here.17 (5E)

Other than what we learn in the two inscriptions, nothing is known of these Song gentlemen who visited Cloud Peak Mountain and the Stone Gate. W hat they had in common, however, was a shared motivation for making the outings their inscriptions describe:both groups journeyed into landscape to seek out texts carved centuries earlier. Although they are otherwise completely obscure, the men named in the two texts succeeded in writing themselves into the history of a major intellectual and cultural phenomenon— — the flourishing of jinshixue during the Song dynasty. The importance of jinshixue in bringing to light and interpreting inscriptions has been acknowledged throughout this book;but “the study of metal and stone” produced more than catalogues of epigraphy. As the two twelfth-century examples cited above show, interest in ancient writing lured people into landscapes and fueled the carving of new inscriptions adjacent to earlier texts. Like colophons added to paintings or to works of calligraphy, accretions of inscribed notes and commentar­ ies embedded ancient texts w ithin a framework of appreciation and interpretation and guided the responses of later readers, who were free to add inscriptions of their own in an ongoing dialectic of reading and response. Assigned to areas where ancient inscriptions were part of local history, Song government officials often found time to conduct antiquarian research while car­ rying out their duties. One such official, Yan Mao (fl. ca. 1193—1194),studied the texts carved at the Stone Gate while serving as magistrate of Nanzheng in the late twelfth century. On his first visit to the site, Yan cleared away moss that had accu­ mulated during a long period of rain to read Opening the Bao-Xie Road south of the tunnel. Yan not only deciphered the Stone Gate inscriptions but also added to them transcriptions and explications in his own hand. In 1194 he transcribed the text of Opening the Bao-Xie Road directly under the original inscription. Following this he added a shiwen, or explication, of the history of the Stone Gate, inadvertently com­ mitting to the medium of carved stone several historical errors, among them the mistaken belief that the tunnel had been opened as early as the third century b.c.e. and that Governor Chu and Yang Mengwen were contemporaries who worked together on the Bao-Xie Road.18 In spite of his failings as a historian, Yan Mao was an excellent calligrapher, skilled in archaic scripts.19While his transcription of the original text of Opening the Bao-Xie Road was written in standard script, Yan wrote his shiwen in clerical script, incorporating unusual forms of characters seen in Eulogy of the Stone Gate and imbuing his writing with a learned, antique flavor (fig. 5.3).20By adding his own inscriptions adjacent to those from the Han dynasty that he studied, Yan Mao became more than a traveler and reader:his own words mark­ ing the landscape made him a participant in the textual history of the Stone Gate. Although jinshixue fostered interest in seeking out old inscriptions, and in writing new ones, Yan Mao's learned explications were a rarity. Few carved texts

Fig. 5 .3 . y a n M a o ( f l . c a . 1 1 9 3 - 1 1 9 4 ) , E xplication o f Opening the Bao-Xie Road. 1 19 4 . D e t a il o f s to n e in s c r ip t io n , 2 7 0 x 220 c m . T h e S to n e G a te , H a n z h o n g , S h a a n x i. P h o to :C o u r te s y o f G uo R ongzhang.

deal with matters of philology and history addressed by scholars of jinshixue in their published writings. Instead, old inscriptions, like ancient buildings, ruins, or land­ scape scenery, became objects of contemplation that inspired subjective responses, in both poetry and prose carved on stone.21A Northern Song example of this mode of reading and responding to inscriptions can be found on Mt. Tai at the site of the Diamond Sutra: Chen Guorui ofPuyang (Fujian), whose polite name is Ziyu, supervisor of schools in Fenggao, gazed at Sutra Valley and thoroughly examined the brush strokes. The characters are more than one chi across, not something that [ordinary] men can do. For hundreds and thousands of years, they have not been erased. How could this not be the preserva­ tion of a divine thing, transmitted to viewers? Zhenghe, dingyou year ( h i 7), second day of spring. Gentleman for Discussion and County Magistrate Zheng Wengong carved the stone.22 (5F) The comments of Chen Guorui, recorded by Zheng Wengong (not to be confused with the father of Zheng Daozhao), move beyond documentation of the act of read­ ing an inscription to present in vivid, affective language an interpretation of what he saw, hinting that the monumental sutra carving had been preserved over the centuries through divine intervention. Hundreds of years later, at the same site on Mt. Tai, where a small waterfall above the Diamond Sutra acquired the name “Water Curtain” (Shuilian), Cui Yinglin inscribed the following poem in 1591:

Above “sunning the sutra stone, , , the stream of the water curtain: 23 Who pulled the Milky Way down to midair? A crescent moon or drawn hook, in morning like suspended jade, The long wind blowing the waves, in evening it resembles mist. Sanskrit tones amid splashing drops, drying, then moist again, W inding stream and drifting clouds, breaking and then rejoined. Picking a scenic spot and preparing wine cups to abandon myself to tranquil enjoyment, I inscribe a poem but am ashamed I lack a brush as big as a rafter!24 (5G) Instead of philology or philosophical musings on the past, Cui Yinglin records his response to the sight of the Diamond Sutra spread across the surface of the mountain ; he writes also about the surrounding landscape, and in a vein that can almost be interpreted as a parody of the idea of carving big characters, he jokingly expresses regret that he does not have a brush big enough to produce writing that would match the scale of the sutra transcription. What makes this poem refreshing also is that unlike epigraphers and connoisseurs, whose attention focused on the Diamond Sutra

as a work of calligraphy, Cui writes about the totality of the scene, evoking the interaction of the unchanging carved words and the constantly shifting forms of t h e w a t e r f a ll.25

Occasionally, poet-antiquarians found ways to both study ancient inscrip­ tions and transform them into something new. In 1891,Wei Qipeng (active late nineteenth century), the prefect of Ye County, in which Cloud Peak Mountain lies, selected characters from the Latter Stele ofZheng Wengong, rearranged them to create a pentasyllabic poem, and had this text carved on the mountain. A passage from the middle section of the poem reads: The steles of the scribe Zhuan and [Li] Si26 Have been transformed by the vast ocean [of time]. [Cai] Yong and [Zhong] You excelled at the six scripts, But their authentic traces were dispersed early on. Only these few lines of characters Remain complete from ancient times. How I love to gaze closely at the transmitted writing, Sighing over the filiality amassed w ithin.27 (5H) Woven into this passage are references to even earlier inscriptions and to Wei’s own reflections on the carved words dedicated to the father of Zheng Daozhao. In

a note following the poem Wei claims that he copied each character of the Latter Stele (probably from a rubbing), assembled them in a new order, and had them carved, “the better to preserve” the writing. This implies that should the Latter Stele ever be effaced by the eroding hand of time, visitors to Cloud Peak Mountain could turn to Wei Qipeng’s clever literary and antiquarian exercise to regain some sense of what the lost monument was like.

R IT U A L O F F IC IA N T S , IM P E R IA L T O U R IS T S , AND CO M R A D SS In the history of landscape inscriptions, the Song dynasty was a period of innova­ tion ;although literati travelers, landscape enthusiasts, and connoisseurs of epigra­ phy developed new genres in later centuries, the cultural patterns of the Song shaped the entire subsequent history of stone inscriptions in China. There was, however, one moya inscription from the early Song dynasty that was the last of its kind — an

ill-fated imperial monument that came to demonstrate how defacement by human vandals is a far greater threat to carved writing than the forces of wind and water. Faced with the menace of the powerful Khitan Liao state along the northern borders of his empire, Emperor Song Zhenzong entered into a treaty in 1004 that required the Chinese to send tribute each year to the Liao court and to address the Khitan ruler as an equal.28 Although the treaty brought considerable benefits to both signatories, the idea of the Chinese emperor addressing a “barbarian” ruler as a kinsman was a nagging humiliation. Zhenzong’s fortunes seemed to take a turn for the better on New Year’s Day, 1008, when a mysterious scroll wrapped in yellow silk was found hanging from the roof of a palace gate— probably the handiwork of Zhenzong’s chief adviser, Wang Qinruo (925—1025).29This alleged communication from the spirit world, declared a “Heavenly Text” (tianshu) by the emperor, certified the legitimacy of Song rule and predicted its continuity through 799 generations. After a torrent of other auspicious omens, Wang convinced the emperor to travel to Mt. Tai to conduct thefeng and shan sacrifices. In the tenth month of 1008,carry­ in g the H eavenly Text in a special carriage outfitted w ith jade, Zhenzong duly

proceeded to Mt. Tai to carry out the sacrifices, following the basic outlines of the rituals used during the Tang. The idea that Zhenzong should, leave an inscription on the mountain also came from Wang Qinruo. Noting that a cliff east of that bearing the inscription by Emperor Xuanzong would be a good site for a carving, he urged the emperor to produce a “sagely composition.” Although Zhenzong at first rejected this idea, dis­ playing the hum ility expected of a ruler with regard to anything concerning the feng and shan sacrifices, he eventually composed a text bearing the grand, title Stele

Inscription on Ascending Mt. Tai to O ffer Thanksfor the Heavenlp Text and to Proclaim the Virtuous Achievements ofthe T\voSages (Deng Taishan xie tianshu shu er sheng gongde ming bei).30 The text, in the handwriting of Zhenzong himself, was carved at the site selected by Wang Qinruo under the supervision of the Imperial Academy of Calligraphy.31 However unjustly, Zhenzong came to be seen by later Chinese historians as a weak-willed coward, intimidated by the Khitans and manipulated by his cunning advisers, who forged the Heavenly Text and persuaded the emperor to go along with their schemes.32 Tainted by this interpretation of his visit to Mt. Tai, Zhenzong’s inscription came to be seen not as precious trace of a grand imperial ritual but as a futile display of delusion and weakness.33 This scorn was expressed physically on the surface of the carved text (plate 19). The damage began during the Jiajing era (1522-1566), when the names of several local officials were carved over Zhenzong’s characters. Zhai Tao (active sixteenth century) and a party of his colleagues on an excursion to Mt. Tai continued the erasure of Zhenzong's inscription by carving three large characters reading “Cliff of the Virtuous Stars” ( Dexingyan), an allusion to a meeting of scholars of the Han dynasty said to have been accompanied by the appearance of auspicious heavenly omens.34 This act not only destroyed traces of the Song emperor’s calligraphy but also began a process of erasing the monument from historical memory :once the name “C liff of Virtuous Stars” appeared where

Zhenzong’s writing had been, the site acquired a new identity and came to be called by the newly inscribed name. As later visitors of the Ming and Qing dynasties added inscriptions such as “Heavenly heights equal to the mountain” and “Ascend the peak, reach the highest point , , ,Zhenzong’s words continued to disappear.35 One inscription, unsigned and undated, consists of the words “propriety, morality, hum il­ ity, and shame” (Ji yi lian chi). The sarcasm of these words written over the Song inscription derives from their original context in a passage from the Guanzi: “Propriety, morality, humility, and shame:without these the ruler of men has nothing w ith which to restrain him self., , 36Carved over Emperor Zhenzong’s inscription, the quotation implies that his misguided performance of the feng and shan sacrifices, shadowed by his humiliating treaty with barbarian enemies and sanctioned by bogus omens, displayed anything but the virtues named by the four characters. Zhenzong was the last Chinese emperor to perform thefeng and shan sacrifices and, until the seventeenth century, the last to emblazon his calligraphy on the surface ofMt. Tai. Avoiding, perhaps wisely in light of the defacement of Zhenzong’s inscription, the unsupervised spaces of the natural terrain, later rulers restricted their epigraphic displays to steles and to architectural monuments placed in the Temple ofMt. Tai in the city of Tai’an or in temples on the mountain itself. It was the Manchu rulers of the Qing dynasty who returned to the grand manner, displaying

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their calligraphy not only on steles and plaques but also on the face of Mt. Tai itself. The proliferation of Qing imperial inscriptions at Mt. Tai, duplicated at sites through­ out China, was one of the forms of political representation through which the Manchus demonstrated to their Chinese subjects their fitness to rule. This muchstudied ideological phenomenon, embodied also in art collecting, publishing, ritual performances, imperial tours and many other enterprises, allowed the Manchus to display their mastery of Chinese cultural practices, even as they maintained their distinct ethnic identity in other domains.37 Following the precedent set by Tang Taizong and by later rulers who used calligraphy as a means of signifying their power to their subjects, the Kangxi emperor (r. 1662-1722) was a tireless calligrapher. By his own estimate he turned out thousands of pieces of calligraphy that he presented to individuals or gave to

temples and shrines.38In the words of Jonathan Hay, the art of calligraphy “allowed the Manchu emperor to project a Chinese literati persona both through the callig­ raphy itself and through the texts he wrote out, the latter revealing his ability to write poetry or cite the Classics., , 39 Hay shows that, by saturating the empire with samples of his brushwork, the emperor prefigured the modern phenomenon of celebrity achieved through ubiquitous images that keep individuals, or representa­ tions of them, in the public eye.40 When the Kangxi emperor first visited Mt. Tai in 1684 he ascended the moun­ tain to conduct a ritual on the summit. This was not a reenactment of the feng sacrifice, which he dismissed as an empty show, but was patterned on the zhai and wang rituals said to have been performed in antiquity by the sage-emperor Shun. Also during his trip to Mt. Tai the emperor wrote a two-character phrase reading “Cloudy Peak” (Yunfeng) that he had carved west of Emperor Xuanzong’s inscription on Great Vista Peak (fig. 5.4). The two large characters, in the emperor’s words, “illuminate the famous mountain and share eternity with the peak of Mt. Tai., , 41 By the time of the Kangxi emperor’s visit, however, any writing placed on the summit of the mountain was forced to share more than eternity:Mt. Tai was getting crowded. Not only had Ming writers defaced Zhenzong’s text, they had also produced the largest characters visible on Great Vista Peak at the time the Kangxi emperor first saw it. These included the phrases “The cliff stands ten thousand feet” (Bi li wan zhang), in characters 75 centimeters high w r it te n in 1560;“Where heaven and earth meet” {Jian di tongyou), in characters 45 centimeters high written in 1536; and “Limitless height” (Mi gad), in characters 60 centimeters high written in 1582. These conspicuous inscriptions altered both the visual and the textual history of Great Vista Peak:unlike the long ritual texts by the Tang and Song emperors, the phrases added by Ming literati and local officials were descriptive exclamations celebrating the scenery of Mt. Tai; the only events they commemorated were the occasions of their own creation by the individuals who had them carved. Unlike plaques or freestanding steles displaying imperial calligraphy that could be housed in pavilions or set apart in other ways from writing by less exalted calligraphers, the emperor’s moya inscription had to share geographic, historical, and textual space with writing already in place on Mt. Tai. Although the large scale of his two characters and the projecting roof carved over them may have been intended to reassert the primacy of imperial writing, there was no way, short of having the other texts erased, that the Kangxi emperor could have avoided placing his calligraphy amid that of commoner tourists. Rather than asserting dominance or ownership of the sacred geography of the mountain, the imperial inscription takes its place amid all the others, like an elite pilgrim forced to jostle along with plebeian travelers on Mt. Tai.42

No ruler traveled to Mt. Tai more often than the Kangxi emperor, s grandson, the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795),who went to the mountain nine times and reached the summit on six of these visits. As anyone familiar with his cultural enterprises could predict, this Manchu ruler also left more traces of his calligraphy on the mountain than any earlier emperor;indeed, his inscriptions outnumber those of any visitor:thirty-one steles in the Temple ofMt. Tai, three in buildings on the mountain, and eight moya carved directly into cliffs.43 Most of these texts are poems in which the emperor describes scenery and expresses his delight in the experience of climbing the mountain. Two of his verses, composed on the occasion of his visit in 1748, were carved directly under the characters “Cloudy Peak” written by his grandfather, whom the Qianlong emperor, ever the filial grandson, eulogizes in yet another text carved nearby.44 The largest of all moya on Mt. Tai, aside from the Diamond Sutra, also was a product of the emperor’s visit of 1748. Covering an area of 20 x 9 meters on Imperial W ind Cliff (Yufengyan), east of Sun-Facing Cave (Chaoyangdong), the inscription is a poem of sixty characters, each about one meter high. Popularly known as the Ten Thousand Foot Stele (Wanzhang bei), the polished surface of the inscription is visible from the base of the mountain on clear days (plate 20). The dramatic effect of the carving comes not only from its size but also from its location, at a site that workmen who smoothed the cliff and carved the characters, enlarged from the Qianlong emperor’s brush-written originals, could reach only with use of ladders or ropes. The text of the poem, titled “The Sun-Facing Cave/, is irrelevant to its function as a sign of the ruler’s passage through the landscape:even though the characters are huge, their distance from an easily accessible viewing site renders them illegible to most visitors. What can be detected, even at a great distance, however, are the traces of immense labor and effort: the monument projects, not calligraphic beauty or literary invention, but the power to w ill into being this colossal mark on the landscape. The Ten Thousand Foot Stele is the Qianlong emperor's largest moya inscription, but it is only one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of texts in his hand that he had carved throughout China. His penchant for writing on the landscape of his empire paralleled in three-dimensional, geographic space his equally persistent habit of w riting extensive poems and colophons on the masterpieces of Chinese painting

and calligraphy in his collection. As Brian Dott has argued, the function of these graphic interventions was the same in both monumental and miniature formats: just as traces of his calligraphy and seals signified the emperor’s ownership of cul­ tural patrimony, his landscape inscriptions asserted dominion over territory he ruled.45 This is a compelling analysis, but it is possible also to see the Qianlong emperor’s multiple inscriptions on Mt. Tai not as signs of his control but of his relentless determination to keep pace with the literati whose cultural forms he had

so proudly mastered. The multiplication of inscriptions on Mt. Tai, already well advanced when the large characters written by the Kangxi emperor were carved, continued relentlessly during the early decades of his grandson’s reign. The only way for the later emperor to assert imperial epigraphic supremacy on the mountain was to exceed in quantity and in scale the carved writing of his subjects. However impressive the sight of the Ten Thousand Foot Stele and his other inscriptions may be, they are reminders that the Qianlong emperor had to marshal all the resources at his command in order to dominate the unregulated space of public writing on Mt. Tai. One method that the emperor hit upon to call attention to his inscriptions was to use one text as a reminder of the presence of others. In a visit to Mt. Tai in 1757,he wrote commentaries on his own earlier inscriptions at stops he made on his way up the mountain. At the Pavilion of Heaven in a Teapot (Haitian ge), his verse reads: I once sat in this lofty pavilion, On today's return, I don’t ascend again. Climbing upward, I have no time to rest, Taking in the view, I recognize it all from before. Blue water emerges from deep ravines, White clouds point to the upper reaches. Carved on the cliff are many old verses, One by one, they can prove [I was here].46 (5I) The poem is an inscription about other inscriptions, a text pointing to other texts. If the First Emperor of Qin could return to Mt. Tai for another inspection tour, he might be surprised to find that a ruler should have left his mark on the mountain in the form of a somewhat-frivolous poem;but the First Emperor surely would recognize the essential message made explicit by the final line of the Qianlong emperor’s poem and conveyed implicitly by all the imperial calligraphy on Mt. Tai: the ruler passed this way, and traces of his journey endure. The Qianlong emperor was the last Chinese ruler to ascend and inscribe Mt. Tai, but the leaders of modern China have followed his example by using calligraphy, on the mountain and elsewhere, to advance ideological goals. As Richard Kurt Kraus has shown in his book on the political uses of calligraphy in modern China, Mao Zedong (1893—1976)’ Zhou Enlai (1899-1976), Guo Moruo (1892—1978), and other Communist Party notables were enthusiastic calligraphers who signified their endorsement of organizations and publications by conferring on them samples of their brushwork.47Inscriptions by these leaders on buildings and monuments remind

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Poem on the Long M arch.

1 9 6 2 ,8 5 x 2 8 0

c m .

U n d a te d .

M t. T a i, T a i,a n ,

S to n e

S h a n d o n g .

in s c r ip tio n P h o t o

b a s e d

:A u t h o r .

viewers of the ubiquitous interventions of the Party in everyday life. At famous mountains tourists also find abundant samples of calligraphy by members of the Party leadership carved on stone. Some are revolutionary slogans such as “Elders of the revolution will always be remembered!, , 48 But the preferred genres for writing on stone by China’s leaders have been four- or eight-line poems and short exclama­ tions praising scenery or alluding to stirring historical events. The presence of a leader’s calligraphy at a site does not necessarily mean that the writer actually traveled there. Often without the knowledge of the calligraphers, writing by major political figures has been appropriated by local officials for display as carvings or plaques at the institutions or sites they control. Predictably, the most numerous of these adaptations found in China today are based on the calligraphy of Mao Zedong, which has inspired fervent awe among many viewers.49 Although Mao never visited Mt. Tai, three texts in his hand appear carved on its slopes;none refer directly to the mountain. The largest is a poem about the Long March composed

m 1935. In 1962, Mao transcribed the poem on a hand scroll in his flowing cursive script, on which the carving on the mountain is based (fig. 5.5).50 The aura generated by M ao, s writing made it irrelevant that his inscriptions on Mt. Tai, where he never set foot, broke the indexical bond between site and writing that had governed the place­ ment of imperial inscriptions. Spread across boulders at conspicu­ ous sites on the route upward, Mao’s calligraphy need not signify “I was here.” Knowledge that the writing emanated, however indirectly, from his hand is all that is needed to evoke memories of the most power­ ful man in Chinese history. None of Mao’s successors in the leadership of the Party have developed a calligraphic style as striking as his, but they have con­ tinued his practice of distributing writing for display in public places, including Mt. Tai. A sample of cal­

F ig .

5 .6 .

Li P e n g

e s ta b lis h

ligraphy by the former premier Li

tio n .

M t.

th e

(b .

1 9 2 8 ) ,u P r o t e c t t h e

E a s te rn

T a i, T a i a n ,

S a c re d

P e a k .”

S h a n d o n g .

w o r l d ’s h e r it a g e

19 91 .

P h o t o

S to n e

: A u th o r.

Peng (b. 1928) was carved on the summit in 1991 just to the west of the Tang and Qing imperial inscriptions (fig. 5.6). The text urges all who read it to “protect the world’s heritage and establish the Eastern Sacred Peak.” Li Peng’s invocation of “the world’s heritage” alludes to Mt. Tai’s status as a World Heritage Site, conferred on the mountain by UNESCO in 1987. Few would consider Li Peng a master calligrapher, but the medium of his inscription on the surface of the mountain is a fitting reminder that the heritage of Mt. Tai recognized and honored by UNESCO, like that of all inscribed landscapes in China, is a heritage of words carved on stone.

a n d

in s c r ip ­

C h ine se T e xts

i A . 造立巨衡而舉追氏,鎚懸鑪以下梓人, 猿垂絕冥鳥傍危岑。鑿積石以全力,梁半空於

木柵。 i B . 永平六年, 漢中郡以詔書受廣漢、蜀郡、巴郡徒二千六百九十人,□

通褒斜口。太守鉅 鹿鄯君、部掾治級、 王宏、 史荀茂、張宇、 韓岑第典功作。太守丞□ □ 楊顯將隕用。 始作橋格六百二十三間, 大橋五, 為道二百五十八里, 郵 亭 、驛 置 、徒司空、褒中縣 官寺並六十四所, 凡用功七十六萬六千八百餘人, 瓦卅六萬九千八百四器。用錢百 四十九萬九千四百餘斛粟。九年四月成就。益州東至京師去就安穩。

i C . 建平五年六月, 郫五閭掾範功平史石工般徒要本, 長廿五丈 ’


i D . 蜀郡太守平陵何君遣掾臨邛舒鮪將徒治道造尊楗閣。 袤五十五丈, 用功千一百九十八

曰, 建武中元二年六月就道。 史任雲, 陳春主。 i E . 漢永平元年四月朔初六日, 蜀郡太守平陵何君遣橡臨邛舒鮪到此營功徒萬八千四百

人。 畢其事,因記。 i F . 故司隸校尉楗為楊君頌。

惟 QL靈定位 , ! I丨澤股躬, 澤有所注, 11丨有所通。 斜谷之1 11 ’ 其澤南隆。 八方所達, 益 域為充。高祖受命, 興於漢中, 道由子午,出散入秦。 建定帝位, 以漢詆焉。後以子 午, 途路港難, 更隨圍谷, 復通堂 光。 凡此四道, 垓隔尤艱。至於永平, 其有四年 ’ 詔書開斜, 鑿通石門。中遭元二, 西夷虐殘。橋梁斷絕, 子午復循。 上則懸峻, 屈曲 流顛。 下則入冥, 傾瀉輸淵。平阿淖泥, 常蔭鮮晏。 木石相距, 利磨確磐。臨危槍 碭, 履尾心寒。空輿輕騎, 蒂礙弗前。惡蟲幣狩, 蛇蛭毒蠖。未秋截霜, 稼苗夭殘。 終年不登, 匱矮之患。卑者楚惡, 尊者弗安。愁苦之難, 焉可具言? 於是明知故司 隸校尉楗為武陽楊君厥字孟文, 深執忠仿, 數上奏請。有司議駁, 君遂執爭。 百僚 咸從, 帝用是聽。廢子由斯, 得其度經。 功飭爾要, 敞而晏平。清涼調和, 蒸蒸艾 寧 。至建和二年仲冬上旬, 漢中太守楗為武陽王升字稚紀涉歷山道推序本原。嘉君 明知, 美其仁賢, 勒石頌德, 以明厥勳。其辭曰:君德明明, 烟換彌光。刺過拾遺, 厲清八荒。奉魁承杓, 綏億衙《 。春宣聖恩, 秋贬若霜。無偏蕩蕩, 貞雅以方。寧靜 忝庶, 政與乾通。輔主匡君, 循禮有常。 咸曉地理, 知世紀鋼。 言必忠義,匪石厥 章。 應弘大節, 讜而益明。揆往卓今, 謀和朝情。醇艱即安, 有勳有榮。禹鑿龍門, 君其繼蹤。 上順斗極, 下答坤皇。自南自北, 四海攸通。君子安樂, 庶士悦雍。商人 咸僖, 農夫永同。春秋紀異, 今而紀功。垂流億載, 世世嘆誦。序曰: 明哉仁知, 豫 識難易, 原度天道, 安危所歸。勤勤竭誠, 榮明休麗。 五官掾南鄭趙邵字季南, 屬 褒中鼂漢養字產伯, 書佐西城王栽字文寶主。王府君閔谷道危難, 分置六部道橋, 特遣行丞事西成韓腺字顯公, 都督掾南鄭魏整字伯玉, 後遣趙誦字公梁, 案察中 曹卓行, 造作石積, 萬世之基, 或解高格, 下 □ 平易, 行者欣然焉。伯玉即日徙署行 丞事, 守安陽長。

i G . 右扶風丞 □ □

武陽李君諱禹字季休, 以 永 壽 元 年 中 口 解 大 臺 政 。由其 口□ □ 口 , 行人蒙福。 君故 □ □ 從 事 , 再舉孝廉尚□ □ 口□。換漢 □ □ 口口宜禾都尉。 □ □


二君清廉, 約身自守。俱大司隸孟文之元孫也。黃門同郡卞玉字子珪, 以熹平二年二月 廿二日謁歸過此, 追述勒銘, 故( 賦 ?)表 紀 。

x i.姬 , 武陽人也。生自寒微。父坐事閉獄。楊渙始為尚書郎吿歸, 郡縣敬重之。姬為處女,

乃邀道扣渙馬, 訟父罪。 言辭慷慨涕泣摧感。渙懇愍之, 吿郡縣為出其父。因奇其 才, 為子文方聘之。結 婚大 族 , 二弟得仕宦, 遂世為宦門。後文方為漢中太守, 以趙 宣為賢, 將察孝廉。面封未定, 病 卒 。姬密不發, 先遣孝廉上道乃發喪。 宣得進用, 姬之力也。後文方兄子伯邳為司隸校尉, 時姬長子穎伯冀州刺史, 仲子頦二千石。 伯邳以禀叔母教, 迎在官舍。每教伯邳政治。伯邳欲舉茂才, 選有二人。伯邳欲用 老者, 嫌以其 耄: 欲舉五方, 而其年幼。以咨叔母, 勸舉方。後趙宣為楗為, 五方為 廣漢, 姬尚在。故吏敬之,四時承問不絕。 H . 景元四年十二月十日, 蕩寇將軍浮亭侯譙國李苞字孝章, 將中軍兵石木工二千人, 始通

此閣道。 I K . 滾滾飛濤雪作窩, 勢如天上瀉銀河。浪花並作筆花舞, 魏武精神萬頃波。 iL .石門銘

此門蓋漢永平中所穿, 將五百載。世代綿迴, 戎夷遞作。乍開乍閉, 通塞不恆。自晉 氏 南遷 , 斯路廢矣。其崖岸崩淪, 碉閣堙褫。門南北各數里車馬不通者久之。攀蘿 捫葛, 然後可至。皇魏正始元年, 漢中獻地, 褒斜始開。至於門北一里西上鑿山為 道 ,峭蛆盤迂。 九折無以加, 經 途巨 礙 。行者苦之。梁秦初附, 實仗才賢, 朝難其 人, 褒簡良牧。 三年, 詔假節龍骧將軍督梁秦諸軍事梁秦二州刺史泰山羊祉。建旗 幡漾, 撫 境綏 邊 , 蓋有叔子之風焉。 以天險難升, 轉輸難阻, 表求自迴車已南開創 舊路, 釋負擔之勞, 就方軌之逸。詔遣左校令賈三德領徒一萬人, 石師百人, 共成 其事。 三德巧思機發, 精解冥會。雖元凱之梁河, 德衡之損躡, 未足偶其奇。起四 年十月十日, 訖永平二年正月畢功。閣廣四丈, 路廣六丈, 皆填磺棧壑, 砰險梁危。 自迴車至谷口二百餘里, 連輔駢轡而進。往哲所不工, 前賢所輟思, 莫不夷通焉。 王升履之, 可無臨深之嘆, 葛氏若存, 幸息木牛之勞。 於是畜產鹽鐵之利, 紈綿歸 氍之饒, 充籾川内, 四民富實, 百姓息肩, 壯矣 。自非思埒班爾, 籌等張蔡, 忠公忘 私, 何能成其事哉?乃作銘曰: 龍門斯鑿, 大禹所彰。茲巖酒穴, 肇自漢皇。導此中 國, 以宣四方。其功伊何, 既 逸且 康。去深去阻,匪閣匪梁。西帶汧隴, 東控樊襄。 河山雖險, 漢德是強。昔惟畿 甸,今則關壇。7太懷古烈, 跡在人亡。不逢殊績, 何用 再光。 水眺悠畠, 林望幽長。夕凝曉露, 晝含曙霜。秋風夏 起, 寒鳥春傷。穹隆高 閣, 有車鱗轔。咸夷石道, 駟牧其銦。千載絕軌, 百輛更新。敢利巖曲, 以紀鴻塵。 魏永平二年太歲已丑二月己卯朔卅日戊申梁秦典籤太原郡王遠書。 石師河南洛陽 縣武阿仁鑿字。 X M . 本西壁文後漢永平中開石門。 今大魏改正始五年為永平元年。余功至二年正月, 訖乎

開復之年同曰永平。今古同口 □ 矣 哉 ! 後之君子異事同聞焉。賈哲字三德。

2 A . 臣竊以為崇治之道, 必也須才: 養才之要, 莫先於學。今國子學堂房粗置, 弦誦闕爾。

城南太學, 漢魏石經, 藜藿蕪穢。遊兒牧豎為之歎息。有情之輩實亦悼心, 況臣親 司, 而不言露?伏願天慈回神紆眄, 賜垂鑒察。若臣微意, 萬一合允, 求重敕尚書、 門下, 考論營制之模 >則五雍可翹立而興, 毀銘可不日而就。樹舊經於帝京, 播茂 範於不朽, 斯有天下者之美業也。 2 B . 此太基山。内中明崗及四面岩頂上嵩岳先生熒陽鄭道昭掃石置五處仙壇。 其松林草木

有能修擧者世貴吉昌。慎勿侵犯。銘吿令知也。 2 C . 詩五言于萊城東十里與諸門徒登青陽岑太基山上四面及中頂掃石置仙壇一首。 魏秘

書監司州大中正平東將軍光州刺史熒陽鄭道昭作。 尋日愛丘素, 陵月開靖場。東峰青烟寺, 西頂白雲堂。朱陽台望遠, 玄靈崖色光。高壇周四嶺, 中明起前崗。神居杳漢眇, 接景拂霓裳。 希微三四子, 披霞度仙房。蕭蕭步林石, 寮寮歌道章。空谷和鳴磬, 風岫吐浮香。冷冷非虛唱, 郁郁繞松梁。伊余苍東國, 杖節牧齊疆。 乘務惜暫暇, 遊此無事方。依巖論孝老, 斟泉語經莊。追文聽淺義, 門徒森山行。 鋼踏念歲述, 幽衿獨扶桑。栖槃時自我。豈云蹈行藏。 2 D . 中岳先生熒陽鄭道昭青烟之寺也。中岳先生熒陽鄭道昭白雲之堂也。中岳先生熒陽

鄭道昭朱陽之臺也。中岳先生熒陽鄭道昭玄靈之宮也。 2 E . 中岳先生熒陽鄭道昭中明之壇也。 其居所號白雲鄉青烟里也。嵗在壬辰建。 2 F . 春秋年六十有七寢疾薨于位。 凡百君子莫不悲國秀之永沉哀道宗之長沒。皇上振悼痛

百常往遣使賵遂策贈有加諡曰文。 2 G .[鄭羲]葬乎熒陽石門東南十三里三皇山之陽。 于是故吏主簿東郡程天賜等六十人仰道

墳之緬邈, 悲鴻休之未刊。 乃相與欽述景行, 銘之玄石, 以揚非世之美, 而作頌 曰… 2 H . ( 天柱山上東堪石室銘, 魏秘書監司州大中正平東將軍光州刺史熒陽鄭道昭作。其辭

曰: )孤峰秀峙, 高冠霄星。蹇曰天柱, 鎮帶萊城。懸崖萬刃, 峻極霞亭。接日開月, 麗景流精。朝暉岩室, 夕曜松清。九仙儀綵, 余用栖形。龍游鳳集, 斯處斯寧。淵綿 言想, 照燭空溟。道暢時乘, 業光幽明。雲門烟石, 登之長生。 2 1. 永平四年, 歲在辛卯, 刊上碑在直南四十里天柱山之陽。此下碑也。以石好, 故於此刊

之。 2]


子祭酒秘書監司州大中正出為使持節督光州諸軍事平東將軍光州剌史司州熒陽鄭 道昭作。 靖覺鏡生津, 浮生厭人職。聳志訪 □ 遊 , 雲峻期登陟。拂衣出州口, 鍰步入煙域。苔替口逕難, 寵縱星路逼。霞旌照 □ 口 , 鳳駕緣虛赭。 披衿接九賢, 合蓋高憒極。崢嶸非一巖, 林戀迭嶢口。雙闕承漢開, 絕巇虹縈勅。澗蛆禽跡迷, 竇狹鳥過亟。層穴通月遂, 飛岫陵地億。 回首眄京關, 連川□ 未 即 。還濟河漸口, □ 來塵玉食。 藏名隱仙丘,

希言養神直。依微姑射蹤, 逍遙朱臺日。尔時春嶺明, 松沙若點殖。 攀石坐危垂, □ 鳥栖傾側。 談對洙嫩賓, 清賞妙無色。圖外表三玄, 經中精十力。道音動齊泉, 義風光韶棘。此會當十齡, 斯觀寧心識。 目海淺毛流, 看崖瞥鴻翼。相翔足終身, 誰辨瑤與口。 万象自云云, 焉用挂情憶。盤桓竟何為, 雲峰聊可息。 2 K . 詩五言登雲峰山觀海童鄭道昭作。

山游悦遙賞, 觀滄眺白沙。洪波泛仙鵠, 靈童飛玉車。金軒接曰綵, 紫蓋通月華。騰龍藹星水, 翻鳳暎煙家。往來風雲道, 出入朱明霞。 霧帳芳霄起, 蓬臺插漢邪。流精麗旻部, 低翠曜天跑。此矚寧獨好, 斯見理如麻。秦皇非徒駕, 漢武豈空嗟。 2L.詠飛仙室

巖堂隱星霄, 遙檐架雲飛。鄭公乘烟至, 道士披霞歸。 2 M . 對碣觀文, 發聲哽塞, 臨碑省字, 興言淚下。次至兩處石詩之所, 對之號仰, 彌深彌

慟, 哀纏左右, 悲感傍人。. . . 久 之 , 方昇於此。 3 A . 鐵山在鄒縣北門外三里許。 崖刻八分書佛經。字大徑尺。其上篆額止石頌二字,大二

尺 許 。經後字稍殺, 徑五六寸。有漢丞相匡衡苗裔匡喆造經,□ 咸 韜書 ,皇周大象 元年等字。 崖勢陡滑, 搨字良難。余數搨始獲其全。 文辭雄麗, 與仿麓磨崖刻爭 勝, 而近在城外, 千餘年無人過問, 余始搨之, 亦奇事也。 3 B . 曽見拓本, 高於人者兩束。非列長筵, 兩人翼而舒之’ 無從披閲。若裝池, 祗能仿推篷

式以兩字為一葉。藏斗室不能容。其拓本索值三十金, 裝池之費, 至簡省亦踰數百 金 。摩挲旬月, 未必能竟其首尾, 其文字又無可考釋。默然久之, 敬謝不敏。世之窮 大失居者, 有如此經矣。 3 C . 又 無 相者 名 無 生 相 。 無相相者名無滅相。無生無滅名無相相。若見無生無滅無住無 一 無二無瞋無諍無有,如 [爾] 不動不[轉] 知於法性, 是名真性, 是名法性, 是名實

性。 3 D . 齊任城郡功曹, 周平陽縣功曹, 大都維納趙郡李巨敖。寧朔大都督, 任城郡守, 經主孫

浴。 東嶺僧安道壹署經。齊搜楊好人, 平越將軍, 周任城郡主簿, 大都維納閭長嵩。 3 E . 佛弟子匡結, 及弟顯 , 口, 祖, 珍

, 漢丞相之苗裔也。秀德自天, 英姿獨拔。知宏網尚, 察地紐方頃。嘆 □ 海 猶 遷 , 嗟太山言落。遂棄烏塗而在懷, 收清而 □ 俯 。 於是乃與 同義人李桃, 湯 □ ,□ 等 , 可謂門抽杞梓, 家握芳蘭, 凡口龍騰, 豁然鳳擧。 乃率 邑人, 敢欲寄泉天沼, 共汲無竭之艎,歸財法肆, 伺以永用之寶。仍割家貲, 捨如 霜業。 在皇周大象元年, 嵗大淵獻, 八月庚申朔, 十七日丙子。

3 F . 縱今 鎸構 , 逢劫火而莫燒, 神□ □ □

, 對炎風而常住。氽其丹青□ 口 , 所以圖其盛法。 金石長存,□ 以彫之不朽。此_ 不錄, 後葉何觀?

3 G . 縑竹易銷, 金石難滅。托以高山, 永留不絕。

S H . 其置福處也。 北連名山, 太丘之廟。南有高崗, 胡城永固。處在中央, 悟水東注。 人民 □

祥, 營造福業。

3 1 . 其處 □

徘徊 □ 岩絕澗。 左依山渠, 南窺大路。西盼京都。私乃唯非舍利神口之菌, 實 是須達布金之地。


澗谷虛靜,邑居閑曠。林疑極妙, 草匹文柔。禽繞空中, 獸依樹下。 水音發而覺道, 風響 動而悟物。戒行之徒允, 慧定之侶攸歸。

3 K . 瑕丘東南大崗山南崗之陽。 前 觀 邾 嶂 峨 峨 ,睹拂漢之峰。卻瞻岱巇巍巍, 找眺排雲

之 嶽 。兼復左顧昌釅, 右臨傳驄, 表裏山川, 林茫 □ 口 。 3 L . 縱使崐輪玉牒, □

觀金簡, 周穆記功, 秦皇勒績,□ 今勝口, 譬彼蔑如也。

B M . 大沙門安法師者, 道鑒不二, 德悟一原,匪直秘相咸韜, 書工尤最。 乃請神豪於四顯

之中, 敬 寫 《大集經穿菩提品》九百卅字。 3 N . 尋師寳翰, 區縣獨高。精跨羲誕, 妙越英繇。如龍蟠霧, 似鳳騰霄。聖 □

幽軌, 神芝秘

法 。從此 □ 相 , 樹標永劫。 3 0 . 約石圖碑,煥炳常質。 六龍上繞,口縈五彩□

雲, 雙龜下蟠,甲負三階之路。

3P . 遙層戀疊嶂間,摩崖大字參差高下。皆 佛 經 也 . . . 乃知佛法廣大,無量無邊, 三竺靈 文,普遍大千世界。 4 A . 皇帝臨位, 作制明法; 臣下修飭。廿有六年, 初並天下, 罔不賓服。親巡遠黎, 登茲泰

山, 周覽東極。 4 B . 皇天啳顧皇帝, 以匹庶受命中興。年二十八載興兵起。( 起是)以

( 中)次誅討十有餘 年, 罪人( 則)斯 得 。黎庶得居爾田, 安爾宅。書同文, 車同軌, 人同倫。舟輿所通, 人迹所至, 靡不貢職。. . . 在位三十有二年, 年六十二。乾乾日昊, 不敢荒寧。涉危 歴險, 親巡黎元。恭肅神祗, 惠恤耆老。理庶遵古, 聰允明恕。

4C . 今百榖有年, 五材無眚。刑罰不用, 禮義興行。和氣氤氳, 淳風澹泊。蠻夷戎狄, 殊方 異類, 重譯而至者,日月于闕廷, 奇獸神禽, 甘露嘉醴。窮 祥極瑞, 朝 夕 于 林 ®。 王 公卿 士, 罄乃誠於中, 鴻生碩儒, 獻其書于外。莫不以神祗合契, 億兆同心。 4D.

“ 玉牒之文, 前代帝王, 何故秘之?”知章對曰:“ 玉牒本是通於神明之意。前代帝王 ’ 所求各異。 或禱年算, 或思神仙。其事微密, 是故莫知之。” 玄宗曰:“ 朕今此行, 皆為蒼生祈福, 更無秘請。 宜將玉牒出示百僚, 使知朕意 。”

4 E . 有唐嗣天子臣某, 敢昭吿於昊天上帝。天啟李氏, 運興土德。高祖、 太宗, 受命立極。

高宗升中, 六合殷盛。中宗紹復, 繼體不足。 上帝眷祐, 錫臣忠武。底綏內難, 推戴 聖父。恭承大寶, 十有三年。敬若天意, 四海晏然。封祀岱岳, 謝成於天。子孫百 祿 ’ 蒼生受福。

4F.維開元十三年 >歲次乙丑’ 十一月辛巳朔, 十一日辛卯’ 嗣天子臣隆基敢吿於皇地祇: 臣嗣守鴻

名’ 膺茲丕運’ 率循地義’ 以為人極。 夙夜祗若, 汽未敢康。 賴坤元降靈, 錫之景祐, 資植庶 類 ’ 屢惟豐年。 式展時巡’ 報功厚載, 敬以玉帛、 牲齋、 粲盛、 庶品* 備茲塵禮, 式表至誠。 睿 宗大聖真皇帝配神作主, 尚饗。 4G.紀泰山銘

御制御書 朕宅帝位, 十有四載, 顧惟不徳, 懵于至道。 任夫難任, 安夫難安。 兹朕未知獲戾于上下, 心 之浩蕩’ 若涉于大) 11。 賴上帝垂休’ 先后儲慶’ 宰衡庶尹, 交修皇極。 四海會同, 五典敷暢。 嵗云嘉熟, 人用大和。 百辟僉謀, 唱余封襌, 謂孝莫大于嚴父, 謂禮莫尊于吿天。 天符既至, 人望既積。固請不已, 固辭不獲。 肆余與夫二三臣, 稽虞典, 繹漢制》 張皇六師, 震疊九宇。 旌旗有列’ 士馬無譁。 肅肅邕邕, 翼翼溶溶, 以至于岱宗順也。 《 爾雅》曰:“ 泰山為東 岳。 ” 《 周官》曰:" 兖州之鎮山。 ” 實惟天帝之孫, 群靈之府。 其方處萬物之始, 故稱t s 焉。 其位居五岳之伯’ 故稱宗焉。 自昔王者受命易姓’ 于是乎啓天地。 薦成功, 序圖録, 紀氏號。 朕統承先王’ 兹率厥典。 實欲報玄天之眷命, 為蒼生之祈福。 豈敢高視千古, 自比九皇哉。 故設壇場于山下, 受羣方之助祭。 躬封燎于山上, 冀一獻之通神。 斯亦因高崇天, 就廣增地 之義也。 乃仲冬庚寅’ 有事東岳。 類于上帝, 配我髙祖。 在天之神, 罔不畢降。 粤翌日, 禪于 社首, 佑我聖考, 祀于皇祗。 在地之神, 罔不咸舉。暨壬辰, 覲羣后。 上公進曰:“ 天子膺天 符, 納介福。 羣臣拜稽首, 呼萬嵗。 ” 慶合歡同, 陳誡以德。 大渾協度, 彝倫攸叙, 三事百 揆, 時乃之功。 萬物由庚, 兆人允植, 列牧衆宰’ 時乃之功。 一二兄弟’ 篤行孝友, 錫類萬 國。 時惟休哉。 我儒制禮, 我史作樂, 天地擾順。 時唯休哉。 蠻夷戎狄, 重譯來貢, 累聖之 化, 朕何慕焉。 五靈百寶, 日來月集, 會昌之運。 朕何感焉。 凡今而後, 儆乃在位, 一王度, 齊 象法’ 權舊章’ 補缺政。 存易簡’ 去煩苛。 思立人極, 乃見天則。 於戲。 天生蒸人, 惟后時乂。 能以美利利天下, 事天明矣。 地徳載物, 惟后時相。 能以厚生生萬人, 事地察矣。 天地明察, 鬼神著矣。惟我藝祖文考, 精爽在天。 其曰:“ 懿爾幼孫, 克享上帝。 惟帝時若, 馨香其 下” , 丕乃曰:“ 有唐氏文武之曾孫隆基, 誕錫新命。 纘戎舊業, 永保天祿, 子孫其承之。 ” 余 小子敢對揚上帝之休命, 則亦與百執事尚綏兆人。 將多于前功, 而毖彼後患。 一夫不獲, 萬 方其罪予。 一心有終, 上天其知我。 朕維寶行三徳, 日: 慈、 儉、 謙。 慈者, 覆無疆之言;儉 者, 崇將來之訓。 自滿者人損, 自謙者天益。 苟如是, 則軌迹易循, 基搆易守。 磨石壁、 刻金 石 ’ 後之人聽辭而見心’ 觀末而知本。 銘曰: 維天生人, 立君以理。 維君受命, 奉天為子。 代 去不留, 人來無已。 徳涼者滅’ 道髙斯起。 赫赫高祖, 明明太宗。 爰革隋政, 奄有萬邦。 罄天 張宇, 盡地開封。武稱有截, 文表時邕。 高宗稽古’ 徳 施周溥。茫茫九夷, 削平一鼓。 禮備封 禪, 功齊舜禹。 巖巖岱宗, 衞我神主。 中宗紹運, 舊邦惟新。 睿宗繼明, 天下歸仁。 恭已南 面 ’ 氤氲化淳。 吿成之禮, 留諸後人。 緬余小子, 重基五聖。 匪功伐高, 匪徳矜盛。 欽若祀 典, ZE承永命。 至誠動天, 福我萬姓。 古封泰山, 七十二君。 或禪突突’ 或禪云云。 其迹不 見, 其名可聞。 祗適文祖, 光昭舊勲。 方士虚誕, 儒書齷齪。 佚后求仙, 誣神檢玉。 秦災風 雨 ’ 漢汙編籙。 徳未合天, 或承之辱。 道在觀政, 名非從欲》 銘之絶巖, 播吿羣岳。 大唐開元 十四年嵗在景寅九月乙亥朔十二日景戍建


4 H . 然斯道高古’ 非世俗通行之書, 以故闕然不講久矣。 唐開元年, 時主懨然知隸字不傳• 無以矜式

後學。 乃詔作《 字統》四十卷, 專明隸書。 5 A . 范鼐’ 任祈孫’ 李揆, 慶元丁巳重陽後一日來游。 5B. □ □ 趙宗齊紹定庚寅侍家舅令丞□ 口 來 。

5C . 丙辰八月, 偕鄭浩, 王覺, 任鄺, 南嵩遊泰山登絕頂。 康有爲。 5 D . 高郵錢峴, 西洛馮維租同游神山, 讀鄭文公摩崖碑。 因刻其後。 政和三年十月晦曰。 5 E . 慶元丙辰暮春止餘三日, 趙公茂, 宋子志, 張壽卿, 宋詠道口公茂二子符谈同來觀漢刻, 三酌

于此。 5 F . 莆陽陳國瑞子玉按學奉高, 觀石經谷, 熟視筆畫。 字徑尺餘, 非人所能。 歷千百年, 曾不磨滅,

豈非神物護持遺觀者?政和丁酉春餘一日。 承議郎知縣鄭溫恭勒石。 5 G . 曬經石上水簾泉, 誰挽銀河落半天。 新月控鈎朝挂玉, 長風吹浪暮疑煙。 梵音濺沫乾還溼, 曲

澗流雲斷復連。 選勝具觴恣幽賞, 題詩愧乏筆如掾。 5 H . 史篆及斯碑, 已隨滄海易。 邕繇精六書, 真跡早散逸。 獨此數行字, 全好如伊昔。 愛細觀遺文,


51. 迥閣昔經坐, 今來無復登。 攀躋緣未暇, 欖結識吾曾。 碧水自深澗, 白雲指上層。 勒崖多舊句, 歷 歷可明徵。

A b b re via tio n s


Beichao moya kejing yanjiu.


Hou Han shu.


Jiu Tang shu.

Beichao moya kejing panjiu xu. Han shu.


Hong Gua, Lishi.


Shodd zenshu


Hong Gua, Lixu. Guo Rongzhang, Shimen moya keshi yanjiu. Guo Rongzhang, Shimen shike daquan. Taisho shinshu Daizdkpd. Yunfeng keshi diaocha yu yanjiu. Yunfeng keshi yanjiu. Zhongguo shufa quanji.


INTRODUCTION i. There is no complete inventory of inscriptions on Mt. Tai. The figure of “more than 1,830” proposed by the Administrative Commission of the Mt. Tai Scenic Zone is only an estimate and does not distinguish between inscriptions on steles or other supports, such as stone columns, and those on natural surfaces. See Taishan fengjing mingsheng qu guanli weiyuanhui, Zhongguo Taishan, 26.

2. 1 exclude from this study early petroglyphs in China that cannot be identified as writ­ ing. For an introduction to this subject, see Chen Zhaofu, G udaiyanhua. 3. Schama, Landscape and Memorp, 10. 4. Anyone attempting to formulate a definition of “landscape” should be cautioned, and humbled, by a statement by J. B. Jackson, the elder statesman of landscape and environmental studies in North America. Jackson once wrote that after twenty-five years of writing and lectur­ ing on the subject, he still found it hard to say what a landscape is. See Jackson, “Order of a Landscape,” 153. 5. Tuan, Space and Place, 3-7. 6. Harrison, Dominion o f the Dead, 18. 7. Ibid., 19.

8. Keppie, Understanding Roman Inscriptions, 11. 9. For an introduction to the study of inscriptions during the Qing dynasty, see Bai, Fu Shan’s W orld. ' 10. See Ledderose, “Aesthetic Appropriation of Ancient Calligraphy in Modern China.” 11. For succinct introductions to the subject of rubbings, see Ma Ziyun, Bei tie jianding qianshuo; Wang Zhuanghong, Bei tie jianbie changshi; and W u Hung, “On Rubbings" The most extensive study of Chinese rubbings in a Western language is Starr, Black Tigers. 12. Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style’’’ 141. 13. W u Hung, “On Rubbings,” 57.

14. Cary Y. Liu, Nylan, and Barbieri-Low, Recarving China’s Fast,479. 15. Zhao Mingcheng, Jinshi lu, 390. 16. On the use of rubbings for the study of moya inscriptions, see Ushimaru, “Magai no manabu,” 74-76. 17. LX, 11.11b, p. 397. Confusion about the locations and meaning of inscriptions also plagues modern studies. In a recent general history of Chinese calligraphy, a rubbing of two large characters reading “stone gate” (shimen) is said to have been taken from “a rock beside a road to the province of Szechuan•, ’ In fact, the characters reproduced in the rubbing were carved inside the Stone Gate tunnel in Shaanxi, the subject of chapter 1. See Zeng, H istory o f Chinese Calligraphy, 30, fig. 6.22. 18. That the location of writing is an important element of its meaning is grasped instantly by anyone who has ever seen the word written over a door or passageway. Martin Nystrand

uses this admittedly trivial example in his discussion of indexicality in writing. The intended message of the sign, he argues, "relates specifically to its copresence with some aspect of its con­ text of use” (Structure o f W ritten Communication, 31). 19. This problem is discussed further in chapter 3. 20. SDZS, 6:23-30. 21. Wen C. Fong et al” Images o f the M ind ,77-82. 22. Billeter, Chinese A rt o f W riting, 259-260. Richard E. Strassberg includes an excellent brief introduction to the tradition of landscape inscriptions in his Inscribed Landscapes, 5-7. 23. Perhaps the earliest study of moya inscriptions that attempts to read texts in relation to their positions in landscape is the analysis by Michihata Ryoshu of the sutras on Mt. Gang. See Michihata, Chugoku no sekibutsu to sekkpd, 19-28. 24. The principal texts by these scholars are Chartier, Forms and M eanings; and McKenzie, Bibliographj; and the Sociology o f Texts. For an important contribution to the understanding of the

materiality of writing in Chinese culture, see Zeitlin and Liu, W riting and M ateriality in China. 25. Chartier, Forms and M eanings, 22. 26. Among stone carvings in other civilizations that would be classified as mopa using Chinese terminology are the inscriptions at Behistun in Iran, carved on a cliff a hundred meters above the ground. Combined with relief images, the texts commemorate the divinely guided victories of Darius the Great (522-486 b.c.e.) over his enemies. Although most Greek and Roman inscriptions were on buildings, altars, bases of statues, or other monuments, some were carved on boulders or on mountains. Among these are a text of 179-180 c.e. carved by a detachment of legionaries on a rock at Trencin in Slovakia and another military inscription on a mountain near Baku on the Caspian Sea. See Keppie, Understanding Roman Inscriptions, 88-89. Inscriptions in Spanish dating from the seventeenth century and inscriptions in English from the nineteenth century were carved on a mesa at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico. Most consist of short passages recording the names of explorers, soldiers, and colonial governors who passed by this site. I am grateful to Emily Breault for calling my attention to this fascinating group of inscriptions in her home state. Although the examples cited above show that inscriptions on natural stone were by no means limited to China, in no other civilization known to me were inscriptions carved in greater numbers or over such long periods of time. 27. Each of these formats for writing on stone is studied in detail in the chapters that fol­ low. For a general introduction to stone inscriptions in China, see Zhao Chao, Zhongguo gudai shike gailun.

28. The classic formulation of this concept of the origins of writing appears in the HPostface” of Xu Shen’s “Shuowen jiezi xu,, , 2-3. See also Chaves, “Legacy of Ts’ang Chieh.” 29. Guo Si, “Linquan gaozhi,” 639. 30. In his entry for Eulogy fo r the Resurgence o f the Great Tang Dynasty (Da Tang zhongxing song) by Yan Zhenqing (709-785), Ouyang Xiu notes that the inscription was produced by “polishing a cliff stone and carving it” (Jigu lu bawei, 140.3a). Zhao Mingcheng uses a similar expression in writing about the stone carvings in honor of Zheng Xi on Heavenly Column Mountain and Cloud Peak Mountain:“[Zheng Daozhao], for his father, polished a cliff stone and carved two steles” (Jinshi lu, 21.390). The habit of referring to a moya inscription as a stele (bei) also began in the writings of these two pioneering scholars o f jinshixue. Note that Ouyang Xiu, Zhao Mingcheng, Hong Gua, and other Song epigraphers write the character mo as 磨 rather than 摩. The latter usage became common in the Qing dynasty and is generally employed today, though the meaning

of the two characters is the same. See SDZS, 6:23. Song epigraphers also tended to write the char­ acter 崖 as 匡 without the “mountain” radical above the phonetic element. 31. Calligraphers also used this process to prepare stele inscriptions, as attested by traces of red, brush-written characters on extant stones. See Wang Zhuanghong, Bei tiejianbie changshi, 6~g; Ma Ziyun, Bei tie jianding qianshuo, 28. 32. For the practice of inscribing walls, see Zeitlin, “Disappearing Verses.” 33. SMMY, 16. 34- On the use of scaffolding to write inscriptions, see Fang Bao, “Record of Visiting Geese Pond Mountain” ; trans. Strassberg, Inscribed Landscapes, 401. 35. finshi suo, 1.1a. 36. In the past, some calligraphers did the carving themselves or had their servants gouge out the shapes of the characters. Yan Zhenqing and Mi Fu (1052-1108) are said to have carved their own calligraphy. See Wang Zhuanghong, Bei tie jianbie changshi,13. 37. Ibid., 8-10; Ma Ziyun, Bei tie jianding cjianshuo,28-29. 38. Harrist, “Eulogy on Burying a Crane.” 39. ZGSF, 8:468.


40. LS, 4.3b, p. 49. 41. YFKS, 141—142. 42. W u Hung, “On Rubbings, ” 39. 43. Cui Xiuguo and }i Aiqin, Taidai shiji, 53, 77. 44. See the inscription by Mi Fu carved at Mt. Jiao and now on view in a stele museum (Harrist, “Eulogy on Burying a Crane,” 6, fig. 9). 45. The application of colors to completed inscriptions should not be confused with “writing in cinnabar” (shudan), which precedes the carving of the characters. Concerning the use of color in inscriptions, see chapter 4. Ancient Greek inscriptions also were colored with paint, traces of which are still visible on some monuments. See Woodhead, Study o f Greek Inscriptions, 27. For Pliny the Elder's mention of the use of color in Roman inscriptions, see Keppie, Understanding Roman Inscriptions, 15. 46. Complaints about excessive displays of inscriptions are discussed in chapter 5. 47. Conversation with Mr. Liu Hui, director of the Temple of Mt. Tai, July 20,1998. 48. My term “peripatetic reading” is indebted to Eugene Y. Wang’s concept of “peripatetic vision” in medieval Buddhist art. See his “Watching the Steps.” 49. Chen Yuanlong, MLongyin Dong/1Guangxi tongzhi, 125.7a.

CH APTER ON£. PUBLIC WORKS AND PUBLIC WRITING AT TH£ STONE GATE x. The name of the road can be read as “Bao-Xie” or “Bao-Ye.” See Zhongwen da cidian, 4:6234. Local scholars in Shaanxi, including Mr. Guo Rongzhang, the foremost authority on the Stone Gate inscriptions, pronounce the characters as “bao-xie,” and this is the reading I have adopted. 2. Zuo Si (ca. 250-305) mentions the Stone Gate in his ^Rhapsody on the Shu Capital” (Shndu fu) (W enxuan, 4.20a). According to Li Daoyuan, this was the tunnel in Hanzhong (Shuijingzhu jiao, 27.881). The term shu has been used to refer to a geographic region in the Chengdu Plain of western Sichuan that extended into the Han River valley in modern Shaanxi; to a people who lived in this area in antiquity; to an ancient kingdom of the later Bronze Age defeated by the

Qin in 316 b.c.e.;to an administrative unit of the Qin and Han empires called a commandery (jun); to a state, also known as Shu-Han, founded by Liu Bei (ca. 161-223) after the collapse of the

Han; and, more generally, to the modern province of Sichuan. For the early history of Sichuan up to the fall of the Han, see Sage, A ncient Sichuan. For the art and archaeology of this area, see Bagley, A ncient Sichuan.

3-Shuijingzhu jiao’ 27.881. See also Shi Zhecun, Shuijingzhu beilut 296-297. 4 -My

work on the Stone Gate inscriptions is indebted to the research of Mr. Guo Rong­ zhang, former director of the Hanzhong Municipal Museum. Beyond the specific points of infor­ mation and interpretation based on Guo’s work that I follow, it is the general framework of the history of the inscriptions established by his labors that has made it possible to write this chapter. I am indebted also to an excellent seminar paper on the Stone Gate inscriptions by Michele A. Matteini written at Columbia University in the fall of 2002. 5. Hsieh and Hsieh, China, 131. See also Sage, Ancient Sichuan, 175-176. 6. The dynamic relationship between the states and peoples of what is now Sichuan and those to the north of the Qinling Mountains is the principal theme of Sage,Ancient Sichuan. See also Yang Weili, “Bao-Xie dao shi Shuren zouxiang Guanzhong Zhongyuan de tongdao•, ’ 7-Road building is listed as one of the essential duties of government officials in Qin documents discovered in a tomb at Yunmeng in Hubei. See Shuihudi Qin mu zhujian, 281-293, cited by Lewis, W riting and Authority in Early China, 22. On road building in ancient China, see Needham

et al” Science and Civilization in China, 1-38. Road building was also the subject of Roman inscrip­ tions, such as that carved at the Iron Gates of the Danbue at Orsova. See Keppie, Understanding Roman Inscriptions, 67-68. 8. Sage,Ancient Sichuan, 108-109. 9. Estimates of the total length of the Bao-Xie Road vary. See SMMY, 5-7, 27. 10. The four principal routes that crossed the Qinling Mountains in the Qin and Han dynasties were the Ziwu, Bao-Xie, Dang-Lu, and Chencang roads. See Needham et al” Science and Civilization, 19-22. For a more recent study based on archaeological fieldwork, see Huang Banghong, “Shu dao kaocha siling., ’ Several other articles in the issue of Sichuan wenwu in which Huang's study appears deal with ancient roads in Sichuan. 11. Zhanguo ce, 37. 12. Shiji, 79.2423. 13- Ouyang Zhan, “Zhandao ming,,’ in Quart Tang wen, 598.6a-7b; quoted by Tang Huancheng, Zhongguo gudai qiaoliang, 93-109 (English summary, 269-272). 14. On the construction of zhandao, see Needham, Science and Civilization, 19-22. Roads of this kind also were built in Europe. For a description of construction techniques, see Lay, W ays o f the W orld, 257. 15. One vision of travel along zhandao leading into Sichuan that is fixed in the minds of educated Chinese is that conjured up by the Tang poet Li Bo (701-762) in his “The Road to Shu Is Hard” (Shu dao nan). For a translation, see Wu-chi Liu and Lo,Sunflow er Splendor, 105. 16. Detailed archaeological reports include Shaanxi sheng kaogu yanjiusuo, “Bao-Xie dao Shimen fujin zhandao yiji ji tike he diaocha”; and Huang Banghong, “Shu dao kaocha siling.” 17. Sandstrom, Tunnels, 2. 18. The dimensions of the tunnel were as follows:east wall, 16.5 meters;west wall, 15 meters; northern entrance, 3.75 meters high, 4.1 meters wide; southern entrance, 3.45 meters high, 4.3 meters wide (SMMY, 94). 19. Recorded in Luo Xiushu, Baogu guji jilu e ,151; quoted in SMMY, 95.

20. The biography of Yu Xu (active ca. 114 c.e.) in the H istory o f the Latter Han includes a terse reference to fire quenching. South of Xiabian in Wudu Commandery, in modern Gansu, stones blocking a waterway prevented boats from passing and kept carriages and pack animals from traveling along the bank. To remove this barrier, Yu Xu "heated stones and cut trees, thus opening a navigable route” (HHS, 58.1869-1870; cited in SMMY, 95). This is the same area where Governor Li Xi, using fire quenching, opened a road through the Western Gorges of Wudu Com­ mandery, a feat described in the inscription Eulogy o f the W estern Gorgesfor. the Governor o f W udu L iX i (Wudu taishou Li Xi xixia song) of 171 c.e. See Gao Tianyou, Xixza moya, 46. The notion that

vinegar was used in the fire-quenching process in Europe appears to have arisen from a misunder­ standing of the smell of burning sap from trees used to heat the rock. See Sandstrom, Tunnels, 28-30. The same idea has appeared in accounts of how the Stone Gate tunnel was bored. See SMMY, 95. 21. My translation is based on the reconstruction of the text in SMMY, 23-24. The final thirty characters no longer appear as part of the surviving carved text but were transcribed in Jinshi cuibian, 5.i2b-i7, and Liang Han jin sh i ji, 13.14a. These sources also include the transcription of the badly eroded explication written under the original inscription by the Southern Song epigrapher Yan Mao (fl. ca. 1193-1194). See SMSK, 81-83. 22. All three commanderies that contributed convict laborers were in modern Sichuan. 23. Guanghan is cited as the native place of Yang Xian in the explication of the inscrip­ tions by Yan Mao (SMMY, 30). In his transcription of the extant characters Guo includes only the character han. He omits this character, however, in the transcription published in SMSK, 73. For alternate readings of this passage, see ZGSF, 7:468, and Gao Wen, Han beijishi, 6—10. Owing to the poor condition of the original stone, all interpretations of this passage, including my own, are tentative. • 24. The term qiaoge was used interchangeably with zhange to refer to gallery roads. See SMMY, 27. 25. Although the inscription mentions the places of origin of 2,690 convict laborers from the commanderies of Ba, Shu, and Guanghan, we know nothing about the vast majority of the 766,800 men who worked on the roads and buildings. For the functions of the buildings erected during this campaign of work, see Zhang Chuanxi, “Shi youting yizhi tu sikong.” 26. My account of the Han administration is based on Bielenstein, Bureaucracy in Han Times.

27. The HHS contains no record of Emperor Ming’s edict. Eulogy o f the Stone Gate records that the edict was issued in the fourth year of the Yongping reign period, which corresponds to the year 61 c.e. The two-year delay between the issuance of the edict and the commencement of work in 63 c .e . can be accounted for by the massive administrative burdens o f organizing the

workers and providing for their food and lodging while the work was in progress. Guo Rongzhang addresses this problem in SMMY, 25. 28. Both Eulogy o f the Stone Gate and Inscription fo r the Stone Gate note that the opening of the tunnel took place in the Yongping reign period (58-76 c.e.). Much confusion over the date of the tunnel arose from Li Daoyuan.s mistaken belief that it was Yang Mengwen who oversaw its construction. See Shuijingzhu jiao, 27.881. Guo Rongzhang has raised the possibility that the inscription Opening the Bao-Xie Road was carved before the tunnel was completed, but even if that were the case, the location of the inscription indicates that the site of the tunnel had already been fixed (SMSK, 55). 29. This phrase is taken from the title of chapter 8 in Lewis, W riting and Authority in Early China, a work to which I am much indebted.

30. For a concise introduction to the textual foundations of the Han empire, see Loewe, “Wood and Bamboo Administrative Documents.” 31. Bielenstein, Bureaucracy in Han Times, 92. 32. Ledderose, Ten Thousand Things, 70. Lewis cites earlier examples of pottery from the capital of the State of Qi that were inscribed with the names of craftsmen, the locations of their shops, and the political units to which they belonged (W riting and Authority in Early China, 26). For extensive studies of workshop production during the Han period, which include translations of many inscriptions on lacquer and bronze objects, see Barbieri-Low, “Organization of Imperial Workshops during the Han Dynasty”; Barbieri-Low, A rtisans in Earlp Im perial China. 33. Ledderose, Ten Thousand Things, 78-79. 34. Unlike sectarian spaces, according to Bierman, public spaces were those through which anyone— or everyone— could pass at any time (W riting Signs, 4). 35. In addition to the public display of texts before the invention of printing, large numbers of readers were addressed through multiple copies of the same text reproduced by hand in manu­ scripts; impressed on clay, paper, or silk with seals or stamps;or cast in metal, as in the case of early Chinese coins: For examples of these types of writing in early China, see Tsien, W ritten on Bamboo and Silk ,chap. 3.

36. The standard introduction to Shang writing in a Western language is Keightley, Sources o f Shang History. Bagley has made the important observation that, although our knowledge of

writing in the Shang dynasty is limited almost entirely to the oracle bones and bronze inscrip­ tions, a much more extensive inventory of texts, including such things as writing exercises for scribes, must have supported the production of the surviving documents (“Anyang Writing,” 217-222). For Zhou bronze inscriptions, see Shaughnessy, Sources ofW estern Zhou History; and von Falkenhausen, “Issues in Western Zhou Studies.” The von Falkenhausen article includes an important discussion of the relationship between bronze inscriptions and archival writing on perishable materials. 37. Kern, “Performance of Writing in Western Zhou China.” 38. For recent discoveries of Eastern Zhou texts in various media, see the essays by Gilbert Mattos, Susan R. Weld, and Donald Harper in Shaughnessy, New Sources o f Early Chinese History. For accounts of ancestral tablets in Han texts, see Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor," 23-24. 1 am much indebted to Brashier’s study, as the many references in this chapter attest. Professor Michael Nylan kindly loaned me a copy of Brashier's thesis. 39. According to the commentary of Kong Yida (547-648), “When the [ritual of] smearing the lips with blood was about to begin, the rong-you grasped these vessels and displayed the cov­ enant documents to those assembled, causing their hearts to be open and expansive” (trans. Susan R. Weld, "Covenant Texts from Houma and Wenxian,” 157). 40. Lewis, W riting and Authoritj^in Early China, 43. See also Lewis’s discussion of a public sphere in Greece, where display of written law codes open to inspection by all citizens marked “the removal from the control of king or despot” (ibid., 2). For the ceremonial display of legal texts in ancient Rome, see Williams, “Monuments on Bronze.” 41. Shiji, 85:2510. 1 am grateful to Professor Lai Guolong for this reference. 42. For a discussion of these banners, which may have been forerunners of carved epitaphs, see Brashier, "Evoking the Ancestor,” 80—83. In another use of banners, according to the Rituals o f Zhou (Zhouli), the names of meritorious officials were inscribed on banners of the king. See Zhouli zhusu, 2:25.788, cited by Tsien, W ritten on Bamboo and Silk, 129.

43. For a study of one such banner, see Li Xueqin, “Tan 'Zhangye duwei qixin.’” 44 -Yang Xin, Cai G ulai nengshu renming, 45-46. The complete story is translated in Ledderose, M i Fu and the Classical Tradition o f Chinese Calligraphy, 31. 45 -For early graffiti written on walls, see Zeitlin, “Disappearing Verses.” I return to the subject of graffiti in chapter 5.

46. For the anti-eunuch graffiti, see Asselin, ^'Significant Season,, ” 31, citing de Crespigny, “Political Protest in Imperial China,” 31-33. For the writing on walls by the Yellow Turbans, see Asselin, “‘Significant Season,”’ 39,citing Levy, “Yellow Turban Religion and Rebellion,H 214. Though not graffiti, writing has been discovered on the wall of a military or postal station at Xuanquan, sixty-four kilometers west of Dunhuang in Gansu. This ink-written text was an impe­ rial “monthly order” (yueling zhaotiao) dated 5 c.e., apparently inscribed for the edification of soldiers at this remote outpost of the Han empire. See Dunhuang Xuanquan puling zhaotiao. I am grateful to Professor Lai Guolong for this reference. The inscription discovered at Xuanquan appears to have been the type of display mentioned in a wooden slip from the first century b.c.e.

or first century c ■ e■in the British Library that gives instructions for signaling between post sta­ tions:“The order will be put up where it can be seen by soldiers of the section of each post so that all may know it by heart and understand it.” See Pirazzoli-t'Serstevens, Han Civilization o f China, 125. 47-M ozi jiangu, 4.111, trans. Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 50-51. For a detailed analysis of early references to stone inscriptions in the M ozi and other sources, see Brashier, “Evoking the Ances­ tor,H50, 62-67,

48. Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 54. Li Daoyuan recorded an inscription on Mount Lu said to have been carved by the mythic sage-king Yu. No one has ever reported seeing such an inscrip­ tion. See Shi Zhecun,Shuijingzhu beilu, 426-427. Ouyang Xiu believed that four characters carvedon Mount Tan in Hebei were the work of King Mu. See Zhao Chao, Zhongguo gudai shike gailun, 81-82. 49. Shiji, 28.1363-1364.

50. Chapter 4, which focuses on Mount Tai, will return to the subject of the First Emperor's uses of carved writing. 51. SDZS, 1:131-134. The dating of the Stone D rum s is controversial. The major study in a Western language is Mattos, Stone Drum s. No references to the Stone D rum s predate the seventh century c.e., when they appear to have come to light. The stones are preserved today in the Pal­ ace Museum, Beijing. 52. Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 51-52. Another pre-imperial stone monument, still rarely men­ tioned in Western scholarship, was discovered in Hebei near the tomb of King Cuo of the State of Zhongshan (r. 323-313 b.c.e.). This stone resembles the form of later steles, but it is actually a natural boulder. The short text in seal script characters names a certain Kongcheng who was charged with supervising the fishing and hunting enclosures of King Cuo. The function of this monument is enigmatic. For a brief account of this monument, and a few others that some scholars believe may date from pre-Qin times, see Zhao Chao, Zhongguo gudai shike gailun, 77-83. See also Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 44-50; Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor,” 60; and Wong, Chinese Steles, 28. 53. Ouyang Xiu, Jigu lu bawei, 1.20a. An unsubstantiated story charged the usurper Wang Mang (45 b.c.e.-23 c.e.) with ordering the destruction of Western Han stone monuments. See Tsien, W ritten on Bamboo and Silk, 75.

54. An inventory of stone inscriptions included in ZGSF, vol. 8, is not comprehensive, but the contrast between the numbers of entries from the Western Han and the Wang Mang inter­ regnum, a total of 24, and those for the Eastern Han, a total of 379, appears to reflect accurately the historical reality of how inscriptions on stone proliferated in the later period. See ZGSF, 8:19-43 (back matter). See also the inventory of Han inscriptions in Hua, Zhongguo shufa shi, 245—276. Both the inventories in Zhongguo shufa quanji and Hua's book are based on surviving stones or rubbings. In a tabulation based on recorded texts, which in many cases overlap with surviving artifacts, Patricia Ebrey has counted 314 inscriptions from the Eastern Han. See Ebrey, “Later Han Stone Inscriptions.” A useful tabulation of Han inscriptions is available also in Brown, "Men in Mourning, ” 266-299. 55. ZGSF, 7: pi. 5, 8:461. Another stone, which was found during a restoration of the Temple of Confucius in Qufu carried out in 1x91, came from the same palace and bears a short text stating that this building was completed in 56 b.c.e. (SDZS, 2: pi. 58). Also just outside the city of Qufu, two stones dated 7 c.e., known since the Song dynasty, marked the sites of altars built in front of the tomb of Confucius (ZGSF, 7: pi. 13,8:464). There are inscriptions also on statues at the tomb of Huo Qubing (147—117 b.c.e.); see Zhao Chao, Zhongguo gudaishikegailun, 84. 56. SDZS, 2: pi. 57, 2:177. 57. ZGSF, 7: pi. 8, 8:462. 58. ZGSF, 7: pi. 14,8:464. Some scholars believe this stone marked the site of a grave, while others have argued that it commemorated a purchase of land intended to benefit the family of Laizi Hou. See SDZS, 2:178. 59. ZGSF, 7: pi. 12, 8:463. 60. ZGSF, 7: pi. 23,8:467. Bielenstein notes that households of those named “Thrice Vener­ able11were marked by inscribed tablets on their gates (Bureaucracy in Han Times, 104). 61. Wang Dafang, “Alashanmeng faxian Han Wudi shiqi shike mingwen.” Hua Rende argues against dating this inscription to the reign of Emperor Wu, citing the use of the name “Han W u d r as an anachronism that could not have been written during this ruler’s lifetime (Zhongguo shufa shi, 1751110). A feng mound erected on Langjuxu Mountain also was the site of an inscription commemorating a battle victory of 119 b.c.e. during the reign of Emperor Wu. See HS, 6.178, cited by Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor,” 66. 62. ZGSF, 7: pi. 18,8:466. See also Zhao Chao, Zhongguo gudai shike gailun, 192; Zhou Jinping, “Liandao xi Han jieyu keshi ji qi shufa jiazhi.” 63. HHS, 23.817. See also Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor,” 66. 64. LX, 3.1a—2a. As in many Han stone inscriptions, the date given in this text is anach­ ronistic. The Jianping reign period of Emperor Ai lasted from 6 to 3 b.c ■ e■ , and in official chronol­ ogy there was no “sixth month of the fifth year of Jianping.’’ The correct form should have been “first year of Yuanshou” (2 b.c.e.)- Hong Gua speculates that word of the changed reign title had not reached Shu Commandery at the time the inscription was carved (LX, 3.1b). Bielenstein dis­ cusses chronological discrepancies of this type in “Later Han Inscriptions and Dynastic Biogra­ phies" 577. A tracing of this inscription appears in Gao Wen and Gao Chenggang, Sichuan lidai beike, 5. Both Cary Y. Liu and Michael Nylan have called attention to problems in the transmission of Hong Gua's Lishi and Lixu and caution against unquestioning reliance on the texts transcribed in these works and other epigraphical catalogues. They raise the possibility also that inscriptions bearing dates of the Han period may in fact have been carved later. See Cary Y. Liu, Nylan, and Barbieri-Low, Recarving China’s Past, especially Nylan, s essay, “Addicted to Antiquity.” While accepting their counsel, I note that Hong Gua's transcriptions generally are quite accurate when

compared with the stones of extant moya carvings. It could be argued, of course, that the inscrip­ tions we know today were recarved based on texts such as Hong Gua’s, but to the questions raised by this circular line of argument I have no satisfying answers. 65. For photographs of this type of road carved into cliffs above the Yellow River at Sanmenxia in Henan, see Zhongguo kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusuo, Sanm enxia caoyunyiji, pis. 15,17. 66. For the rediscovery of the inscription, see Guo Rongzhang, “Zunjiange moya tiji chongjian yushi de diandi ganwu.” See also Li Bingzhong, “Xin faxian He jun Zunjiange keshi ji kaoshi.” 67. The inscription is recorded by Hong Gua under the title Stele o f the Gallery Road o f the Governor o f Shu, H is Lordship He (Shujun taishou He jun gedao bei), LS, 4-ia-2a. A nibbing, based on a recutting made in 1887, is in the collection of the National Library of China. See Beijing tushuguan, 1: pi. 23. An outline tracing of the inscription appears in Gao Wen and Gao Chenggang, Sichuan lidai bei, 4.

68. Beijing tushuguan, 1: pi. 24. The rubbing is nearly illegible, and I follow a transcription written in ink on it. For the problem of dating inscriptions that include the dynastic name Han( see above, n. 64. 69. These and other Han inscriptions documenting the names of men who carried out the construction of roads present a striking contrast with Roman inscriptions, in which it is the emperor who is given ultimate credit for road-building projects. See Keppie, Understanding Roman Inscriptions, 66-68.

70. Inscriptions marking the sites where the work they document was carried out operate in a manner analogous to that of indexical expressions known as shifters in linguistic and semiotic theory. In English, words such as “this” and “that” or “here” and “there, ’ are examples of shifters, dependent for their meaning on the contexts in which they are used. In order to be intelligible, a statement such as “This is my brother” requires a male standing near the speaker or some other indication provided by the context that clarifies who it is the speaker wishes to identify. Through a similar "compulsory reference”一 the term is Roman Jakobson’s— a boundary marker or a stone marking a gravesite acquires meaning through its position in space: it signifies “here is the line of demarcation,w“here is the site of the tomb,” even though these words may not be directly stated. Monuments commemorating a battle victory or the site of a ritual toast or the construction of a road function in the same way. The classic presentation of the concept of the shifter is Jakobson, "Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb.” 71. ZGSF, 8:468. 72. See Boltz, Origin and Early Development o f the Chinese W riting System, 32-33. 73. For a brief introduction to writing on wood and bamboo slips, see Loewe, “Wood and Bamboo Administrative Documents.” For a more comprehensive study, see Loewe, Records o f Han Adm inistration.

74. For an introduction to the development of clerical script, see Proser, "Moral Characters.” Michael Nylan discusses the rise of clerical script within the context of intellectual and social history in “Calligraphy, the Sacred-Text, and the Test of Culture.” 75. Liu Yong, “Han li de fasheng he fazhan,M65-66. 76. Xu Shen, MShuowen jiezi xu,M7; trans. Zeng, History o f Chinese Calligraphy, 117. 77. The use of dramatic flaring strokes in clerical script had already emerged in the West­ ern Han period, as evident from the characters on bamboo slips discovered in the tomb of Liu Xiu, king of Zhongshan, who died in 55 b.c.e. See Hua Rende, Zhongguo shufa shi, 50. 78. 1 have followed the transcription of the text and the annotations in SMMY, 40-41. In general, my translation is based on Guo’s annotation and those of Gao Wen in Han beijishi, 88-104.

My interpretations of unorthodox or difficult-to-read orthography also follow the readings of Guo and Gao. I am indebted to Martin Kern, who made many excellent suggestions for improving the translation, and to Michael Nylan, who also offered valuable advice. 79. The character used in the inscription is an alternate form of the character 坤 kun. For a succinct account of the various alternate forms of characters in the text, see SMMY, 41-42. 80. The “territory of Yi” usually refers to Yizhou, an administrative area that lay within the modern province of Sichuan. Here, Yizhou refers more generally to the territory of Shu, the ancient kingdom centered in Sichuan. 81. This passage alludes to the founding of the Han dynasty by Liu Bang (247-195 b.c.e.), known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu (r. 202-195 b.c.e.)- Prior to becoming emperor, Liu had been given the title “king of Han,” a territory in the valley of the Han River encompassing areas of modern Shaanxi and Sichuan. The seat of his kingdom was in Nanzheng, the capital city of Hanzhong Commandery. See Sage, A ncient Sichuan, 162-163. The Ziwu Road was an ancient route linking Sichuan to the central plains north of the Qinling Mountains. Sanguan was southwest of Baoji in modern Shaanxi. 82. Weigu refers to a river that flowed northward to the Wei River;a road following the course of this river connected with the Tang-Lu Road leading to Hanzhong. The location of Tangguang is uncertain, though Guo Rongzhang has proposed that this site name refers to a place near the headwaters of a tributary of the Han River. See SMSK, 43-44, 56. See also Needham, Sci­ ence and Civilization in China, 22. 83. HHS records a number of barbarian incursions in the years 107 and 108. Among those in the area of the Bao-Xie Road, the most aggressive were launched by members of the Xianling Qiang, who appear to be the “western barbarians” mentioned in the Eulogi; o f the Stone Gate. See HHS, 5.206-211, 221-222. This rebellion was not quelled until nearly ten years later. 84. In his study of Eulogy o f the Stone Gate, Han Yuan has noted that this passage describing the perils of travel on zhandao in Sichuan presages Li BoJs famous poem cited above, though there is no evidence that Li Bo knew the Han dynasty text. See Han Yuan, “Han Shimen song zai wenxueshi wenxianxue shang de jiazhi, ” 170. 85. Jianwei Commandery, which will figure prominently in the later history of the Stone Gate inscriptions, was located in central Sichuan. See fig. 1.3. Wuyang, the commandery capital, was to the east of modern Pengshan. In many sources, Yang’s personal name is given as Que owing to a mistaken interpretation of the meaning of this character, which functions here as a posses­ sive pronoun. See SMMY, 38. 86. Confucius likened a virtuous ruler to the Pole Star, “which keeps its place and all the stars turn around it.” See Legge, Chinese Classics, 1:145. Here, the allusion to the Big Dipper suggests that Yang Mengwen’s actions were in accord with the wishes of the emperor. 87. This phrase is adapted from the Book o f Documents: "Broad and long is the Royal path, without partiality, without deflections” (Legge, Chinese Classics, 3:331). 88. The sage-king Yu was said to have excavated the Dragon Gate (Longmen) near Hancheng in Shaanxi. This passage likening Yang Mengwen to Yu and his mythic engineering projects contributed to confusion over Yang’s role in opening the Bao-Xie Road and excavating the tunnel. The tunnel was opened several decades before Yang submitted his memorials to the throne. See SMMY, 35-37. 89. Gao Wen takes the words “spring and autumn1*(chun qiu) as a reference to the Spring and Autum n A nnals attributed to Confucius, though the intended meaning here may simply be

“annals” (Gao Wen, Han beijishi, 102—1031157).

, 9 0 . Gao Wen argues that in the Eulogy the word xu, u s u a lly translated as “preface, ” is used to designate not an opening section but a finale, comparable to the luan in the Songs o f Chu (Chuci) (Gao Wen, Han beijishi, 105-106). I follow Gao’s interpretation and adopt the word “coda” to avoid the awkwardness of labeling as a “preface” this passage at the end of the text. 91. The work described here appears to have consisted of replacing wooden beams of a section of the zhandao with a stone roadbed. See SMSK, 57. 92. Hanzhong Commandery encompassed twelve xian, or counties. Among these were Nanzheng, where the commandery capital city, also called Nanzheng, was located. Baozhong and Xicheng were the home counties of Chao Hanjiang,Wang Rong,and Han Lang, subordinate officials named in the inscriptions. Anyang, where Wei Zheng was appointed to office, was another county in Hanzhong Commandery. 93. My understanding of the self-referential character of ritual texts is indebted to studies by Martin Kern, including Stele Inscriptions, 140-147; “Shi jing Songs as Performance Texts” ;and “Performance of Writing in Western Zhou China.” 94. Bielenstein, Bureaucracy in Han Times, 85. 95. Huayang guozhi jiaozhu, 472. 96. Aside from the Stone Gate inscriptions, no historical texts mention Wang Sheng or his subordinate officials. 97. For a literary analysis of the Eulogp o f the Stone Gate, see Han, “Han Shimen song zai wenxueshi wenxianshi shang de jiazhi, 98. M aoshi zhengyi, 1:1.18. See Hightower, uW en Hsiian and Genre Theory, , , 5211147. For the relationship between the terms song (eulogy) and song (to recite) and the aural dimensions of the eulogy genre, see Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 143. 99. W enxin diaolong zhushi,95; trans. Shih, Literary M ind, 50 (modified). 100. Cited by Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor,” 90. See also HHS, 52.1731. lox. Stele o f the Pingxiang Road o f H is Lordship Wang, Prefect ofN an ’an (Nan’an zhang Wang jun Pingxiang dao bei), LX, ix.8a-9a. 102. Stele o f the Yangdou Road o f the Defender o f Qingyi, Zhao M englin (Qingyi wei Zhao Meng­ lin Yangdou dao bei), LS, 4.2b_3b. Miranda Brown has shown that Wang Liu, the person credited with sponsoring this monument in honor of Zhao Menglin, could not have been one of Zhao’s subordinate officials. This evidence, as well as many other cases studied in detail by Brown, promises to shed new light on the relationships between those honored in Han inscriptions and those who had the inscriptions produced. I am grateful to Professor Brown for giving me a copy of the manuscript for her forthcoming book The Politics o f M ourning in Early China. 103. Stele o f the Gallery Road o f the Prefect o f H an’an,H is Lordship Chen (Han’an zhang Chen jun gedao bei), LX, i5.4b-6a. The sponsor and, presumably, the author of the inscription was an administrator (yuan) in the Section of Roads and Bridges (Daoqiao cao), an administrative division attached to some commanderies and counties. See Bielenstein, Bureaucracy in Han Times, 97,102; Hucker, Dictionary o f O fficial Titles, 489. 104. There were, however, inscriptions carved to commemorate similar types of publicworks projects in other areas of China. A stele discovered in Luoyang in 1925 commemorated the repair of a waterway by Zhang Zhongyou in the year 98. Unfortunately, only half of the text survived, and it is impossible to say much about its contents. See ZGSF, 7: pi. 36, 8:472. A stele commemorating the building of a dike in 138 was erected at a place called Stone Gate (not to be confused with the tunnel in Shaanxi) near Rongkou in Henan. See Shi Zhecun, Shuijingzhu beilu, 47-48. The Stone Gate was at the mouth of a canal built between the years 62 and 70. Li Daoyuan

mistook a grave marker dated 171 that was discovered at the site for a monument connected with the building of the canal (Shi Zhecun, Shuijingzhu beilut 45-46). Li Daoyuan recorded also an inac­ cessible moya inscription of uncertain date carved on a mountain in Xunyang County of modern Shaanxi. Shi speculates that this text marked the site of a zhandao that was destroyed after the inscription was carved (Shuijingzhu beilu ,303). 105. Hua, Zhongguo shufa shi, 245-276. 106. The essays collected in Han bei panjiu are the best introduction to the subject of Han dynasty steles. See also Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor,” 72-84; and Wong, Chinese Steles, chap. 2. 107. W enxin diaolong zhushi,128; trans. Shih, Literary M ind, 67. Lin Xie, s text reads: "After the time of the Han, bei and jie rose like clouds.” Some scholars have attempted to make a distinc­ tion between the two terms, arguing that bei were upright, rectangular stones, while jie were rounded stones shaped like boulders. Brashier has shown, however, that the term jie “does not seem to represent a definable category of shaped stone in the Han” ( “Evoking the Ancestor,” 73). 108. For a summary of various theories concerning the origins of the stele, see Brashier, “Evoking the Ancestor,” 72-84; and Wong, Chinese Steles, chap. 2. For further discussion and an illustration of posts that may have been used to lower a coffin into a tomb, see Cary Y. Liu, “Reconfiguring the *Wu Family Shrines, ’” 564-565. 109. Among early steles that rested on tortoise bases are the Stele o f W ang Sheren (Wang Sheren bei), erected in 183 and discovered at the site of a group of Han tombs in Pingdu in Shan­ dong (see Lingan and Xiapo, "Shandong xin faxian de liang Han beishi,” 346-347), and Stele o f Fan M in (Fan M in bei), dated 205, from Sichuan (see Paludan, Chinese Spirit Road,51, fig. 46). no. Nylan, ^Calligraphy, the Sacred Text, and the Test of Culture,M34-41;Kern, “Ritual, Text, and the Formation of the Canon,” 48-61. h i . N,ylan,

“Calligraphy, the Sacred Text, and the Test of Culture,” 36. 112. Kern, “Ritual, Text, and the Formation of the Canon, ” 44. 113. Kern, “Western Han Aesthetics," 434. 114. Nylan, "Calligraphy, the Sacred Text, and the Test of Culture,M39. 115. Xu Shen, “Shuowen jiezi xu,” 11—12. 116. Ibid.,34. This examination appears to have demanded skills in reading and writing like those expected of the Masters of Writing (Shangshu) in the Imperial Secretariat, who were required to pass a 9,000-character examination and demonstrate skill in various forms of writing. See Bielenstein, Bureaucracy in Han Times, 48,136. 117. Ebrey, “Toward a Better Understanding of the Later Han Upper Class广6o. 118. Powers, A rt and Political Expression; and Brown, Politics o f M ourning. 119. Brown, “W u Stelae in Context.” 120. L iji zhengyi, 3:49.378a; trans. Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 145-146. Cai Yong also likened the commemorative function of bronze inscriptions to that of texts carved on stone. See Brashier, “Text and Ritual in Early Chinese Stelae,, ,269. 121. In the Han system of bureaucratic appointments, men were not assigned positions as regional administrators in their native counties; lower-ranking officials and clerks generally were recruited from the local populace. See Yan Gengwang, Qin Han difang xingzheng zhidu , cited by Barbieri-Low, “Organization of Imperial Workshops during the Han Dynasty,” 354-355. 122. SMSK, 57. 123. Ibid. t 124. Hua Rende, Zhongguo shufa shi, 140. 125. Proser, "Moral Characters,” 132.

126. Guo Rongzhang, “Shimen shisan pin,” unpaginated. 127. In the monument commonly known as Stele fo r Zhang Qian (Zhang Qian bei), carved in 186, the title heading actually identifies the monument as a biaosong, or “marker eulogy,” while the text refers to the act of “putting up a marker” (shu Mao) and “erecting a marker” {li biao). In these uses of the word biao, its meaning appears to be synonymous with “stele.” See ZGSF, 8:512. 128. My translation is based on the reconstruction of the text in SMMY, 46-47. 129. Hong Gua mistakenly believed that this inscription, which he appears to have known only through rubbings, was carved at the site of Yang Huai’s tomb. See LX, 11.11b; and my discus­ sion above in “Introduction: Writing on the Bones of the Earth.” 130. Translation based on the text transcribed in SMMY, 49. 131. Huayang guozhi jiaozhu, 773. 132. Ibid., 774. 133. Ibid., 785. 134. Kang Youwei, Guang pizhou shuangji, 798. 135. Hua, Zhongguo shufa shi, 147-148. 136. For early art in Sichuan, see Bagley, Ancient Sichuan. 137. Nylan, “Legacies of the Chengdu Plain■ ” 138. ZGSF, 8:521-522. 139-The contemporary scholar Deng Daikun has commented on the close resemblance between the inscription for Wang Junping and the Eulogy ofthe Stone Gate (ZGSF, 8:472). 140. Zhuge Liang ji, 1.25. *

141. Sanguo zhi, 40.1003-1004. 142. 1 follow the reconstruction of the text in SMMY, 72.


143* In his recent publications on the Stone Gate inscriptions, Guo Rongzhang has argued that this inscription is an original carving from the third century (SMSK, 80). For Guo's earlier views, and arguments for why the inscription naming Pan Zongbo and Han Zhongynan was thought to be a recutting, see SMMY, 82-86. Following a campaign of work on the zhandao in the upper reaches of the Bao Valley north of the Stone Gate, documented by a now-lost inscription of 280, the accumulation of carved writing and work on the Bao-Xie Road came to an end. See Guo Rongzhang, "Jin Taikang xiu zhandao shike lizheng”; and SMSK, 192-194. 144. In 1983 the Hanzhong Municipal Museum acquired a stele of unknown origins bear­ ing an inscription dated 442. The text records a victory of the troops of the Liu-Song dynasty over Northern Wei troops during an attack on a gallery road. Anachronistic use of variant character forms and other oddities have raised doubts about the authenticity of the stele. See SMSK, 197-199. 145. SMMY, 70. 146. Inscribed next to the two characters, which together measured ninety centimeters high, was the signature of Zheng Zizhi,a hermit once believed to have lived in the Bao Valley. The signature has been discounted as the addition of a later enthusiast intent on adding to the historical interest of the site. The stone was destroyed during the building of the Bao-Han High­ way. See SMSK, 75-76. 147. Discussed in Harrist, “Mountains, Rocks, and Picture Stones.” 148. Wang Xiangzhi, Yudi jisheng, 183.13b, p. 407. 149- Luo Xiushu, Baogu guji jilue, 214. The characters were very faint owing to erosion caused by the river. They were recut, vertically and on a smaller scale, in the Song dynasty. See SMSK, 104-105,108—109. .

150. Luo Xiushu, Baogu guji jilue, 210. 151. Guo notes the use of the same form of the character in a poem by Du Fu, in which it clearly is intended as a substitution for the word gun, or “roll” (SMMY, 67). 152. Ibid., 68. 153. The words “Wang Yuan wrote” (W ang Yuan shu) have been interpreted by almost all scholars to mean that Wang both composed the text and wrote the calligraphy. The word shu in the text could mean “to compose a text” or “to write out a text.” In only a few cases from this period or earlier is it possible to determine with certainty both the author and the calligrapher of any given inscription. Two examples, from a few years before the Inscription/or the Stone Gate, leave no doubt. An inscription for a shrine in the Guyang Cave at Longmen, dedicated in 498 to the Duke of Shiping, ends with the words “Zhu Yizhang wrote (the calligraphy); Meng Da composed (the text)” (Zhu Yizhang shu M eng Da wen). Another inscription in the same cave for a shrine dedicated in 502 by Sun Qiusheng and other donors states that “Meng Guangda composed (the text); Xiao Xianqing wrote (the calligraphy), ,(M eng Guangda wen Xiao Xianqing shu). See Longmen ershi pin, 195,199. Several stele inscriptions of the Han dynasty identify those who did the writing, though the multiple meanings of the verb shu make it difficult to know whether this refers to composing a text or providing calligraphy. Perhaps the earliest recorded example appears on the Stele ofW u Ban (Wu Ban bei), dated 147, said to have come from the famous W u Family Cemetery at Jiaxiang

in Shandong. The penultimate sentence in the inscription states that HJi Boyun wrote this stele” (Ji Boyun shu ci bei) (Gao Wen, Han bei jishi). The reliability of this statement has been questioned,

most recently by Michael Nylan, in “Addicted to Antiquity,” 521-523. A man named Guo Xiangcha wrote the Stele o f the Temple o f the W estern Sacred Mountain, M ount Hua (Xiyue Huashan miao bei) in 165 (Gao Wen, Han bei jishi,271). The writer of the Stele o f Fan M in of 205 was a stone craftsman, Liu Sheng (ZGSF, 8:514). The text of the Stele ofHeng Fang, dated 168,ends with the sentence “Written by his disciple (mensheng) Zhu Deng, whose polite name was Zhongsi” ( ZGSF, 7:496). The only record of a Han inscription that clearly identifies the

author, calligrapher, and stone carver is the Eulogy o f the Fu Gallery Road ofX i Village Bridge (Xili qiao Fuge song), dated 172; although the text of this inscription is still extant, the names of those who produced it are known only through Hong Gua’s transcription (LS, 4.12b). See also Gao Tianyou, X ixia moya, 304-308; and Gao Wen, Han bei jishi, 399. In the early sixth century, it was still unusual for stone carvings to include the name of the calligrapher. For a discussion of cal­ ligraphers named in Northern Wei epitaphs, see Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style,” 184-195. 154. This alludes to the attacks of 107-108, when sections of the Bao-Xie Road were destroyed by Qiang tribesmen, and to a more recent uprising of the Di minority. 155. It was in 504, when troops of the Liang dynasty attacked Liangzhou, that Xiahou Dao ceded the territory of Hanzhong and submitted to the Northern Wei. See W ei shu, 8.198. 156. The names of these administrative units, which encompassed Hanzhong Commandery, were the same as names of regions in modern Gansu that were under the control of the Northern Wei. This system of duplicating the names of administrative units under the control of rival states, known as qiaozhi, adds to the confusion of trying to understand the political geography of areas that lay along the shifting borders of regimes during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. 157- For biographies of Yang Zhi, see W ei shu, 89.1923-1924; and Bei shi, 39.1431-1432. Yang Zhi’s epitaph and that of his wife were discovered in 1964 north of Gonglizhan in Xiantai County, Shandong. See Dan Zi, “Yang Zhi yu Shimen ming chukao santi•” 158. Mount Bozhong is in Xiningxian in Shaanxi. The Yang River, which originates in Meixian, also in Shaanxi, is a tributary of the Han River. See Shuijingzhu jiao, 639; Luo Xiushu,

Baogu guji jilue, 69. In Inscription/or the Stone Gate, the names of the mountain and river refer to the territory of Hanzhong.

159. Shnzi was the polite name of the Western Jin dynasty minister Yang You (221—278), a distant uncle in the seventh generation of Yang Zhi. He was noted for his effective military defense against the rival Kingdom ofWu, as described in his official biography in the Jin shu, 34.1013-1025. 160. Huiche is in Fengxian, Shaanxi. 161. Yuankai was the polite name of the Western Jin minister Du Yu (222-284). He memo­ rialized the Western Jin ruler to build a bridge over the dangerous currents of the Yellow River at the Fuping ford. Initially, his proposal was met with opposition from the other officials at court, but in the end he succeeded, and the result was highly praised by the emperor. See Jin shu, 34.1028. Deheng was the polite name of the Wei Kingdom minister Ma Jun (fl. 230s). He served as an Erudite (Boshi) and was known for various technological innovations, such as improving the efficiency of looms. See Pei Songzhi's commentary to the Sanguo zhi, 29.807-808. 162. During this period 1 zhang was equivalent to ca. 245 centimeters. 163. This appears to refer to Wang Yang (d. ca. 48 b.c.e.), who was appointed regional inspector ofYizhou. Traveling to take up his duties, he reached the treacherous Nine Bends, where he sighed and said, “Receiving this body from my parents, how can I brave these dangers?” He thereupon resigned on account of illness. See HS, 76.3229, 30.1717,88.3600-3601. Also see Loewe, Biographical Dictionary, 527—528. Mr. Ge refers to Zhuge Liang, who devised a form of wooden vehicle in the shape of an ox in 231. See Sanguo zhi, 33.896, 35.925-928. 164. Lu Ban, also known as Kungshu Zi, was a famous craftsman of the State of Lu said to have lived during the time of Confucius. See Lau, M encius, 117. Wang Er was also a master car­ penter of the Spring and Autumn period. See Han F eizi xin jiaozhu’ 8.542. Zhang Heng (78-139) was a poet, astronomer, and mathematician said to have invented an early seismograph. Cai Lun (active ca. 105 c.e.) is traditionally credited with the invention of paper. 165. For Yu’s excavation of the Dragon Gate, see above, n. 88. 166. The Qian River flowed from Gansu, past Longxian in Shaanxi, and into the Wei River. Fancheng and Xiangyang lie in Hubei. See Luo Xiushu, Baogu guji jilue, 72. 167. When the Han capital was located at Chang’an, the Stone Gate could be considered to lie within the area of the dynastic capital. At the time that the Inscription fo r the Stone Gate was composed, the Northern Wei capital was located at distant Luoyang, which transformed the Stone Gate into a point on the periphery of the empire. 168. My translation is based on the transcription in SMMY, 88-89, and profits from Guo Peng's annotations in Luo Xiushu, Baogu guji jilue, 67-73. 169. For an account of Emperor Xiaowen’s policies, and resistance to them, see Abe, Ordi­ nary Images, chap. 3.

170. W ei shu, 8.204. The passage from the Basic Annals o f Xuanwu states: “Ninth month of the fourth year of the Zhengshi era (507), the day jia zi, opened the old road in the Xie Valley.” Although this passage refers only to the road in the valley of the Xie River, this must be a shortened form of the name of the Bao-Xie Road. See SMSK, 31. 171. SMMY, 100. 172. Kusamori, “‘Eihei’ no kokoro,” 79. 173. W ei shu, 89.1923-1924. 174. The spectacle of Luoyang at its peak during the later Northern Wei is the subject of Yang Xuanzhi's Luoyang qielanji, completed around 547. For a complete translation, see Wang Yit’ung, Record o f Buddhist M onasteries.

175. W enxin diaolong zhushi,116; trans. Shih, Literary M ind, 59 (modified). Concerning the term ming, James R. Hightower warned that “only confusion results from its use as the name of a literary genre” (uWen Hsiian and Genre Theory," 523x154). 176. For the ming by Li You, see Quan Hou Han wen, 50.4a—13b. 177. Kusamori notes that the reference to the Dragon Gate (Longmen), said to have been carved by Yu in Shaanxi, can be read also as an allusion to the Buddhist cave chapels being carved outside Luoyang in Henan under Emperor Xuanwu at the time the Inscription fo r the Stone Gate was written. Kusamori’s reading treats the Inscription as an extended tribute to Emperor Xuanwu, who, ultimately, was the force behind the rebuilding of the Bao-Xie Road and for whom this project was an important political and military achievement planned to facilitate his future invasion of the south. That Kusamori overlooks the use of the same allusion to Yu in Eulogy o f the Stone Gate, which Wang Yuan, s text echoes in other ways, suggests that his interpretation does not give adequate weight to the more local and historically specific context of the Inscription. See Kusamori, '“Eihei’ no kokoro, ” 78-79. 178. For an introduction to the subject of early Chinese landscape poetry, see Holzman, Landscape Appreciation in Ancient and Earfy M edieval China.

179- Two years later, Zheng Daozhao had poems replete with landscape imagery carved on Cloud Peak Mountain. See chapter 2 below. i8o_ Barbieri-Low, "Carving out a Living,” 495-496. The term "craftsman's literacy” is taken from Harris, A ncient Literacy, 22. 181. Concerning the meaning of this passage, see n. 153 above. 182. For a concise overview of Northern Wei calligraphy, see Liu Tao, Zhongguo shufa shi, chap. 12. 183. For calligraphy in Northern Wei Luoyang, see Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style.” 184. Kusamori interprets the slanting characters as visual analogies for the experience of traveling the precipitous zhandao (“‘Eihei’ no kokoro,” 84). 185. SMMY, 89. 186. History is repeating itself. As the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangzi River nears completion, inscriptions at Baiheliang are about to disappear. See Guo Yibing, Changjiang sanxia gongcheng. I am grateful to Professor Lai Guolong for this reference. 187. Guo Rongzhang has documented this process in “Shimen shisan pin,” unpaginated, and in SMSK, front matter, unpaginated. The latter includes excellent documentary photographs.


YFKS, 27. For the birth and death dates of Zheng Shuzu, see Yu Shuting, “ Tianzhushan

ming xiyi.” The Bei shi includes the following account of Zheng Shuzu's return to Guangzhou: “He

was transferred to be regional inspector of Guangzhou. Originally, Shuzu's father had served in Guangzhou, and on a small mountain south of the city had raised a study pavilion and carved a stone as a record. Shuzu at that time was nine sui (ten years old by Western reckoning). When he became regional inspector, he went to search for the old traces [of his father]. He found one broken stone, on which was an inscription reading ‘The Hall of White Clouds of Mr. Zhongyue, Zheng Daozhao.’ Shuzu, facing this, cried out, and his grief moved his attendants. [While Zheng Shuzu was in office] there was a man who entered the marketplace and stole some cloth. His

father angrily said, 'How can you turn against our lord?’ and seized him to make him confess. Shuzu forgave him, and from this time on, within the territory, there was no thievery. The com­ mon people sang: ‘Big Mr. Zheng, Little Mr. Zheng, fifty years apart, but their style of instruction is the same’’,(Bei shi, 35.1307). According to Yu Shuting, the Bei shi misidentifies the site of Zheng Daozhao’s pavilion and the inscription concerning the Hall of White Clouds. See Yu Shuting, Zheng Daozhao yu sishan keshi, 31-34. 2. Zhao Mingcheng, finshi hi, 389-399. Rubbings of the inscriptions on Cloud Peak Moun­ tain, Great Platform Mountain, and Heavenly Column Mountain, as well as those from Mt. Ling­ long, near Qingzhou in Shandong, also associated with Zheng Daozhao, are available in Yunfeng keshi quanji. Note that the name Yunfeng keshi or Yunfengshan keshi is used frequently in Chinese scholarship to designate inscriptions on all four mountains. For a bibliography of references to the Cloud Peak Mountain inscriptions in works on epigraphy, see YFKS, 63-67. 3. Two inscriptions that include the name of Zheng Daozhao appear on Mt. Linglong, near Qingzhou in Shandong, where Zheng held office shortly before his death. Owing to the brevity of these texts and their distance from the closely interrelated ones on mountains near Laizhou, I have excluded the Mt. Linglong inscriptions from this study. See YFKS, 59—62. 4. Mitchell, "Imperial Landscape,” 14. 5. Lefebvre, Production o f Space, 45. 6. Biographical information on Zheng Daozhao, his career, and the texts of memorials he submitted to the throne appear as part of the biography of his father, Zheng Xi, in the W ei shu, 56.1240-1242, and B eishi, 35.1304-1305. My account of Zheng Daozhao’s life relies on the chronol­ ogy in YFKS, 147-156, and on various essays collected in YFKSYJ. Other major studies of Zheng Daozhao and the Cloud Peak Mountain inscriptions to which I am indebted include Nakata et aL, Chiei, Tei Dosho; Sakata, Tei Dosho; and Yu Shuting, Yunfeng Tianzhu zhushan beichao keshi 7. W ei shu, 56.1240. 8. According to the Luoyang qielan ji, Zheng Daozhao's residence in Luoyang was in Huiwen Ward, two li outside the Dongyang Gate. See Yang Xuanzhi, Luopang qielan ji, 2.84-85. See also Wang Yi-t'ung, Record o f Buddhist M onasteries, 84-85. 9. The expression xian song 弦 誦 (strings [of ritual music] and recitation [of ritual texts]), a synecdoche for classroom activity, is found in the Book o f Rites: “Recite in the spring, strum in the summer” (chun song xia xian 春誦夏弦).See Liji zhengyi, 625-626. The text of Zheng,s memorial as it is recorded in the Song dynasty compendium Cefuyuangui (6o^.72^yb-72^Sb) substitutes the term sheng song 生 誦 (student recitation) for this allusion to the Book o f Rites. 10. Zheng's official title, guozi jijiu , given in the W ei shu, which I translate as chancellor of the School for Sons of the State, gave him jurisdiction over two institutions of higher education: the Guozixue (also Guoxue), or School for Sons of the State, and the Taixue, or National University, located just south of Luoyang since Han times. The distinction between the two institutions in this period is uncertain. See Xiong, Zhongguo gudaijiaoyu shiliao xinian, 188-241; and Galt, History o f Chinese Educational Institutions, 270-313. The Luoyang qielan ji records that the Stone Classics w ere notable monuments in the southern suburbs of the city. See Yang Xuanzhi, Luoyang qielan ji, 3.141;

and Wang Yi-t’ung ,Record o f Buddhist M onasteries, 160. For the history of the Stone Classics, see Zhang Guolan, Lidai shijing kao. 11. The term youqing 有情,which I translate freely as “people with ordinary feelings,” derives from the Sanskrit sattva, also translated in Chinese as 眾 生 (all sentient beings). See Soothill and Hodous, Dictionary o f Chinese Buddhist Terms, 213.

12. Zheng, s request that the emperor "again order” discussion of these buildings, implying that the matter had been addressed earlier, may refer to an edict from the beginning of Emperor Xianwen’s reign expressing interest in reviving educational models of antiquity and commanding the “two secretariats” to investigate and report back to him (W ei shu, 48.1077). 13. The expression wupong (Five Harmonies) may be a mistake for sanyong 三 雍 (the Three [Halls of] Harmony), referring to the Mingtang, Biyong, and Lingtai— traditional halls of ceremo­ nial education. The version of Zheng's memorial in Cefu yuangui emends wuyong to sanyong. See n. 9 above. 14. W ei shu, 56.1240-1241. 15. See n. 1 above. Yu Shuting argues that Zheng Daozhao built a Hall of White Clouds on Cloud Peak Mountain and on Mt. Linglong in Qingzhou ("Zheng Daozhao yu *Baiyuntang,,M255). 16. The name of the mountain is printed in modern texts as Dajishan 大基山. In the inscriptions attributed to Zheng Daozhao, the first character is written with an additional stroke 太 and should be read as tai. The meaning, however, is the same. 17. This estimate is that of Sakata, Tei Ddshd,165. 18. YFKS, 46. Carved on the same stone is an inscription by Zheng Shuzu dated 565 that identifies the site as the mountain gate of the Hall of Resting Clouds (Yunjuguan). 19. YFKS, 41. This boulder, 3 meters high and 4.85 meters wide, is called the "Loquat Stone.” Sakata Gensho, who has studied the terrain of Great Platform Mountain more thoroughly than any other scholar, has noted a small stone that seems to have been inserted under the boulder to steady it and believes that the boulder was moved into place by human effort rather than simply being deposited by the forces of nature (Tei Ddshd, 169). 20. Zheng Daozhao's biography asserts that he liked to compose poems and rhapsodies, though none of these were collected in any literary anthologies. The only example of his achieve­ ments as a poet that was transmitted in an early printed source consists of two lines he composed at a banquet hosted by Emperor Xiaowen in 498 during a military campaign to conquer the Southern Qi dynasty. The emperor began a round of versifying by singing: “The white sun lights up the heavens, illuminating all / Only a single corrier left of the river remains unlit.” Zheng responded to this allusion to the emperor’s quest to conquer the south— the land “left of the river”一 by singing: “The imperial winds are drummed up and encircle the Nine Realms / Capped with the sun and leaning on the heavens, we purify the six directions” (W ei shu, 56.1240). I am grateful to Zeb Raft for his help with this passage. 21. 1

take the character 素 as a substitution for 索, as in the expression “Eight Suo and Nine

Q iun (ba suo jiu qiu 八索九丘), a phrase referring to the books of ancient sage-kings. See Legge, Chinese Classics, 5:641. My translations in this chapter benefited greatly from the suggestions of Professor Yang Xiaoshan, to whom I am most grateful.

22. Professor Zhang Siqi, of Wuhan University, has suggested that the expression ling yue 陵月, which I translate as “moon cycle,” refers to the ridgelike shadows in the moon that are vis­ ible when it is full— the time at which Daoist rituals were held. The compound 靖場 appears to refer to the ritual space defined by the five altars named in the poem. I am grateful to Zhang Chen, of Harvard University, for conveying this information to me. 23. The phrase “rainbow skirts” (nichang) alludes to the garb of immortals. 24. Qi was an ancient state located in the territory of modern Shandong. 25. Fusang is a mythic tree from which the sun rises in the east each morning. 26. Zheng means that he is not merely responding to changing fortunes in official service that lie beyond his control. The allusion is to the Analects: "The Master said to Yan Yuan, 'When

called to office, to undertake its duties, when not so called, to be retired; it is only I and you who have attained this, ” (Legge, Chinese Classics 1:197). 27. YFKS, 37-39. These inscriptions were defaced by a mentally disturbed local man who suffered from a strange aversion to writing (personal communication from Mr. Lai Fei, Shandong Stone Carving Art Museum, Ji'nan, July 16,1998). According to Yu Shuting, this man, Yi Zuoguan, wrote his own name in large characters over the original inscriptions (Zheng Daozhao pu sishan keshi, 7). 28. The types of buildings named in the four inscriptions appear in many contexts in the history of Chinese architecture. A temple (si) can be a government office or a Buddhist institution; terraces (tai), halls (tang\ and palaces (gong) can be built anywhere. Occurring in this particular grouping at Great Platform Mountain, however, and interpreted in relation to the Altar of Central Brightness at the center of the space they mark, the Daoist orientation of the four types of build­ ings is unmistakable. Among names of structures that are associated with early Daoism and that can be correlated with the inscriptions at Great Platform Mountain are the Temple for Venerating the Void (Congxusi), built outside the city of Pengcheng in 491. Earlier, buildings called Hall for Venerating Vacuity (Chongxutang) and Dark Terrace (Xuantai) were prescribed for each parish (zhi) of the Celestial Masters sect. Predating the growth of religious Daoism, Emperor W u of the Han dynasty built palaces (gong) intended to represent heavenly dwellings of immortals and, it was hoped’ lure them to earth. Later, the term gong was used to label large buildings within Dao­ ist abbeys (guan). For these and other types of Daoist architecture, see Shi Yanfeng, “Daojiao gong guan suotan”; and Kohn, “Home for the Immortals." Daoist buildings are discussed also in Hahn, “Standard Taoist Mountain.” 29. YFKS, 43-44 , 30. Sakata, Tei Dosho,168. 31. Concerning writing to be read by spirits, Jessica Rawson notes that by no later than th e s ix th c e n tu ry b . c . e . d o c u m e n ts addressed to spirits were b u r ie d i n the g ro u n d (“Power o f

Images,” 136). 32. The name of the mountain itself may have been invented by Zheng, who, according to his son, coined the name of Cloud Peak Mountain nearby. The term daji, which I translate as “Great Platform/’ can also be rendered as “great foundation.” This term can refer to the "founda­ tion" of imperial rule. 33. Among the many excellent general accounts of how the term “Daoism” can be defined, the introduction in Bokenkamp, Early D aoist Scriptures, is especially useful. 34. YFKS, 131-132. See also Jiao, "Yunfeng keshi yu Zheng Daozhao wannian de daojiao sixiang qingxiang•” 35. Embodiments of this syncretism in the visual arts are discussed in Cheng, l,Fabricating Life out of Death,” 259—263. 36. Zhang Congjun discusses the study of the Book ofChanges by the Zheng family in HZheng Daozhao shufa lishi diwei,” 150-151. We know from his epitaph that Zheng Daozhong (d. 522), a cousin of Zheng Daozhao, “indulged in the domain of Lao[zi] and Zhuang[zi]u (Yu Shuting, Zheng Daozhao pu sishan keshi, 65).

37. An undated inscription at Mt. Linglong states that "Zheng Daozhao, in the Hall of White Clouds, explicated the Yi[jing] and Lao[zi]n (YFKS, 61). 38. YFKS, 27. 39. For a succinct history of the Celestial Masters, see Robinet, Taoism, chap. 3. 40. Mather, “K’ou Ch’ien-chih.”

41. Ibid., 115. 42. David Yu, History o f Chinese Daoism , 1:363-364; Mather, “K’ou Ch'ien-chih," 118. 43. Chen Yinke, “Tianshi dao yu binhai diyu zhi guanxi.M 44. Robinet, Taoism, chap. 5. See also Bokenkamp, Early D aoist Scriptures, 275. 45. Robinet, Taoism, chap. 6. See also David Yu, History o f Chinese Daoism, 1:346; and Schipper, “Taoism,” 44. 46. The classification of three grades of immortals appears in Baopuzi, by Ge Hong (283343 c.e.)- See Ware, Alchem y, M edicine, and Religion, 47. For a concise introduction to the concept of immortals, see also Robinet, Taoism, 48-50; Robinet, “Taoist Immortal”; and Bokenkamp, Early D aoist Scriptures, 21-23. 47. For an account of changing representations of immortals, see Spiro, “How Light and Airy.M 48. Schipper, Taoist Body, 92; Kohn, “Home for the Immortals,” 85. 49. Schipper, Taoist Body, 92-93. See also Lagerwey, “Taoist Ritual Space/187-88. 50. Wheatley, Pivot o f the Four Quarters, 418. 51. Cohn, “Deities of the Four Cardinal Points in Chinese Art." For roof tiles decorated with the Four Spiritual Animals, see W u Hung, M om m entality, 180-181. 52. Rawson, "Power of Images,” 143. For a discussion of Northern Wei coffins decorated with directional symbolism, see Eugene Y. Wang, “Coffins and Confucianism,” 59-60. 53. Loewe, W ays to Paradise, 83. See also Brashier, "Longevity like Metal and Stone.” 54- Little, Realm o f the Immortals, 39. Translation modified by Little from Karlgren, “Early Chinese Mirror Inscriptions”; and Cahill, "Word Made Bronze," 64. - 5 5 . Robinet, Taoism, 7-14. See, for example, the vision of four heavens from the Book o f Five Perfected W rits (translated by David Yu in H istory o f Chinese Daoism, 1:337-338), as well as the

incantation from Secret Essentials o f the M ost High, in Kohn, Taoist Experience, 112-115. 56. Lagerwey, Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History, 30-33. 57. Robinet, Taoism, 95-96. 58. David Yu, History o f Chinese Daoism, 1:313-315. 59. Robinet, Taoism, 124. 60. The words “This is Heavenly Column Mountain” (O' Tianzhu zh i shan) are carved directly on the mountain. For their location, see fig. 2.18. 61. The complete title of the inscription, given in the first line of the text, is Stele o f the Late W ei Secretariat D irector and D irector o f the Palace Library,Zheng Wengong. For the distinction

between this monument and the second version of the text carved on Cloud Peak Mountain, see below. 62. YFKS, 105. For records of epitaphs written by relatives of the deceased, see Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style,” 184-195. Lu includes two epitaphs written by sons for their fathers. Some modern scholars believe that the author of the Stele o f Zheng Wengong may have been one of Zheng Xi’s former subordinates, Cheng Tianci. A native of Yanzhou, where Zheng was regional inspector, Cheng is named as one of the sponsors of the inscription (YFKS, 105, iio - m ). 63. According to Zheng Shuzu, his father “carved the stele” (zhuan bei) in honor of Zheng Xi, but this surely means that Zheng Daozhao had the work done by others, not that he personally took part in carving the text (YFKS, 56). 64. YFKS, 52. 65. Ibid. 66. See chapter 4 below. 67. Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style,” 54-61. Zheng Xi himself participated in the produc­

tion of an inscription, which yielded tangible political gains. When Empress Dowager Wenming (442-490) erected a temple to the memory of her father in Chang’an, Zheng Xi traveled there with a party of subordinate officials to conduct a ritual at the temple. While in Chang, an Zheng person­ ally supervised the carving of a stele erected at the gate of the temple, an act that led the imperial court to confer various honorific titles on him and to appoint him to the office of palace steward (jishizhong) (W ei shu, 56.1238). According to the biography of Zhao Xiu, a favorite of Emperor Xuanwu (r. 499-515), “when he buried his father none of the court officials, from princes on down, failed to attend— He had masters in the capital make the inscription stele, the stone beasts, and the stone pillars, and used his people's ox carts to haul these all the way to his home district11(W ei shu, 93.1998; trans. Soper, Textual Evidence fo r the Secular A rts, 25-26). This lavish burial was paid for by Zhao’s misappropriation of public funds. . 68. Inscribed imperial monuments of the Northern Wei are discussed in chapter 4. 69. Shanxi sheng kaogu yanjiusuo and Lingqiu wenwuju, “Shanxi Lingqiu Bei Wei Wencheng di Nanxun bei”; Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style,” 57-58. 70. For a comprehensive study of epitaphs, see Zhao Chao, Gudai m uzhi tonglun. The most complete account of the history of epitaphs in a Western language is Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style,” 106-121. See also Mary H. Fong, "Antecedents of Sui-Tang Burial Practices in Shaanxi,” 156-159. 71- Zhao Chao, Gudai m uzhi tonglun, 51. Zhao has argued that the shape and carved decor of epitaph covers embodied cosmological symbolism related to that of the diviner's board (shi) and to domed burial chambers that represented the heavens (ibid., 102-116). Jessica Rawson sug­ gests that epitaphs, like deeds, inventories, and other documents placed in tombs, were intended to be read by spirit officials believed to administer the underworld ("Creating Universes,” 135). Supporting her argument, Rawson refers to the work of Anna Seidel on the function of texts placed in tombs during the late Han dynasty. See Seidel, “Traces of Han Religion.” 72. Hui-wen Lu, “New Imperial Style,” 119. 73. Ibid., 104. 74-Zhao

Chao, Han W ei Nanbeichao, 36.

75. Beijing tushuguan, 4:129; Zhao Chao, Han W ei Nanbeichao, i30.,A brick epitaph for another member of the Zheng family, Zheng Fu (d. 515), was discovered in Kaifeng in the 1980s. See Luo Xin and Ye WeisXin chu W ei fin Nanbeichao m uzhi shuzheng, 137-140. 76. Zhao Mingcheng, finshi lu, 389-390. Zhao records that he often visited the site of the Latter Stele on Cloud Peak Mountain, but he appears to have known the Stele o f Zheng Wengong

only as a rubbing made by someone he dispatched to Heavenly Column Mountain. Note that Zhao refers to Cloud Peak Mountain as Nanshan, or Southern Mountain. 77. W ei shu, 56.1239. 78. Ibid., 56.1245-1246. For a summary of other misdeeds of the Zheng family, see Yu Shuting, Yunfeng Tianzhu zhushan beichao keshi,70-71. 79-Sakata, TeiDosho, 139; Yu Shuting, Yunfeng Tianzhu zhushan beichao keshi, 69-71. See also Sakata, “Siyue zakao, 57. 80. W ei shu, 56.1239. 81. The full title is Inscription fo r the Stone Cham ber o f the Eastern Promontory o f Heavenly Column M ountain by the W ei D irector o f the Palace Library,M etropolitan Senior Rectifier, General o f Eastern Pacification, and Regional Inspector o f Guangzhou, Zheng Daozhao ofXing^ang (YFKS, 54).

82. See the account by Yu Shuting, Zheng Daozhao yu sishan keshi, 37-38. 83. The length of a ren was approximately 2.4 meters.

’ 84. Here the word jing 精, which I translated as “essences,” refers to energies of celestial bodies that meditation techniques allow the Daoist adept to absorb. See Robinet, “Visualization and Ecstatic Flight,” 171. 85. For studies of the youxian shi genre, see Holzman, “Immortality-Seeking”; and Holzman, Immortals, Festivals, and Poetry in M edieval China, part 3:15-57. See also Li Fengmao, “Liuchao dao-

jiao yu youxian shi de fazhan■ , ’

86. Robinet, Taoism, 96-97; Shi Yanfeng, “Daojiao gong guan suotan,” 2. See also Yoshikawa, “Seishitsu ko.” 87. David Yu, Historj; o f Chinese Daoism , 1:475. 88. Ibid” 260. 89. Shi Yanfeng, “Daojiao gong guan shotan,” 2; Yu, H istory o f Chinese Daoism , 1:259. 90. Kohn, “Home for the Immortals,” 100. 91. Robinet, “Visualization and Ecstatic Flight,” 166. 92. For Mt. Kunlun as axis of the world, see Munakata, Sacred M ountains, 11—12; Hou, W u liu shiji, 188; Mitarai, Kodai Chugoku kamigami,666.

* 93. The idea that mountains are the source of clouds is reflected in a line from Zheng Shuzu’s Inscription on Heavenly Column M ountain (Tianzhushan ming): “Mists collide with rocks to form clouds” (YFKS, 56). 94. Cloud Peak Mountain is-also known as Wenfengshan and Bijiashan, both meaning “Brush Rest Mountain/1a name inspired by the tripartite configuration of the peak, which recalls the shape of a brush rest. Both these names appear to postdate the sixth century. 95. The mountain is lushly decked with pine, locust, and beech trees, but according to Nakamura Sodo, the mountain was bare when he visited in 1928. See Sakata, Tei Dosho, 147. 96. Several inscriptions from the Northern Song period appear on the side of the Stele o f Zheng Wengong and adjacent to other carved texts on the mountain. Although Zhao Mingcheng visited Cloud Peak Mountain, his name does not appear among those inscribed by Song visitors.

See Sakata, Tei Dosho, 150; YFKS, 31-32. 97. For a comparison of the two texts, see Sakata, Tei Dosho, 139-142; YFKS, 145-146. 98. For the Hall of White Clouds, see n. 1 above. Several inscriptions of uncertain date also appear on the foundation, including the name of a stone master called Yuxian. A small relief image of a man carved on a stone fourteen meters from the, supposed site of Zheng Daozhao’s pavilion has been interpreted variously as a portrait of Zheng or of his father, Zheng Xi. A partially 'effaced inscription makes clear, however, that the image dates from the Song dynasty and has nothing to do with Zheng Daozhao (YFKS, 32). 99. According to the epigrapher Ye Changchi, “Before the Jian'an (196-220) and Huangchu (220-226) eras, shi poems were not carved on stone. Might not the 'Poems of Cloud Peak Mountain’ by Zheng Daozhao be the origin of such stone carvings?” (Yushi jiaozhu, 371). Two poems by Xie Lingyun (385-433) were inscribed at the site of the Stone Gate in Qingtian County in Zhejiang. Undated and unsigned, the inscriptions were in place by no later than the Song period, when they were defaced by graffiti written over them, but there is no evidence for what role Xie Lingyun might have played in having his two poems inscribed. See SDZS, 5:139-140, pis. 18-19. 100. YFKS, 15. 101. YFKS, 106-113. ' 102. In Buddhism the term shengjin, “ford of life,” refers to earthly existence, which must be bridged to reach salvation (Foguang da cidian, 1:2066). 103. The “Nine Sages” refers to the names of the Nine Immortals inscribed on the summit

of Cloud Peak Mountain. See below. The phrase “Nine Immortals” appears also in Record o f the Eastern Stone Cham ber on Heavenly Column Mountain (YFKS, 54).

104. The paired towers (shuangque) appear higher up the mountain. 105. This character, mian 陌 (gaze) is transcribed incorrectly as miao 抄 in YFKS, 15. 106. The Zhuangzi describes the immortal of Mt. Gushe as a being “with skin like ice or snow, and gentle and shy like a young girl. He doesn’t eat the five grains, but sucks the wind, drinks the dew, climbs up on the clouds and mist, rides a flying dragon, and wanders beyond the four seas” (Zhuangzi yinde, 2; trans. Watson, Complete W orks ofChuang Tzu, 33). 107. This is a reference to the stone seat of the mountain gate on Cloud Peak Mountain. See below. 108. The Zhu River ran through Yanzhou, southwest of Cloud Peak Mountain; the location of the Jin Mountains is uncertain. The character bin 賓 ( guests) is transcribed incorrectly as bin 濱( banks) in YFKS, 15. 109. Tu, “chart,” is likely a reference to the Book o f Changes, as the River Chart (Hetu) tra­ ditionally was said to be the source of the hexagrams. The “three mysteries, ” or sanxuan, are defined in the Yanshi jia xun as Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Book o f Changes. See Yan Zhitui, Yanshi jiaxun jijie, 187. no. Zhang Congjun suggests that the “ten powers” (shi li) may refer to the shi pian (ten chapters) of commentary on the Book o f Changes. “Ten powers” (shi li) can refer also to the ten great powers of the Variocana Buddha. See Zhang Congjun, “Zheng Daozhao shufa lishi diwei/' 151. 111. The “spring of Qi” may allude to the stream known as “Sky-High Spring” (Tianqiquan) south of Linzi in Shandong. See Shuijingzhu jiao, 26.849-890. Confucius is said to have heard the Shao ritual music of the sage-kings Yu and Shun in the State of Qi, in modern Shandong, after which “for three months he did not know the taste of flesh” ( Legge, Chinese Classics,5:199). 112. The upper part of the character transcribed as shi 十 ( ten) in YFKS is eroded. Qian 千 (thousand) would seem more likely to be the original character. 113. The goose is a means of conveyance for transcendent beings. In an inscription on the summit of the mountain, Master Fuqiu is said to “pilot a goose.” See below. 114- For a chart showing the frequency of earthquakes in this area, see Sakata, Tex Dosho, 195- 197-

115. YFKS, 20. 116. Wang Sili and his coauthors note that the body of the poem was written first and the title added later, perhaps by Zheng Daozhao himself (YFKS, no). 117. For a Japanese translation of Zheng Daozhao’s poem, see Nakata et al.,Chiei, Tei Dosho, 8.

ii8_ Ibid., 207. For a translation of Mu Hua’s “Rhapsody on the Sea” (Hai fu), in which the “sea elves” appear, see Knechtges, Wen xuan ,2:305-320. 119. For an excellent introduction to the relationship between the locations of the inscrip­ tions and their meaning, see Lai Xiutian, “Yunfeng keshi de chengyin.” 120. Chen Yinke, “Tianshi dao yu binhai diyu zhi guanxi.” 121. An allusion to these imperial journeys appears also in Eulogy on Heavenly Column M ountain (Tianzhushan ming), an essay by Zheng Shuzu carved near the mountain: “The First

Emperor roamed here and forgot to return / Emperor W u passed by and delighted in lingering” (YFKS, 56). This inscription was destroyed in 1969. Surviving fragments are in the Pingdu Munic­ ipal Museum. 122. Lai Xiutian, “Yunfeng keshi de chengyin,M270. For other sites related to the First Emperor of Qin and Emperor Wu, see Yu Shuting, "Tianzhushan ming xiyi.”

123. For a thorough study of evidence for Zheng Daozhao’s interest in Daoism, see Jiao, “Yunfeng keshi yu Zheng Daozhao wannian de daojiao sixiang qingxiang.” In his analysis of the youxian shi genre, Donald Holzman exposes elements of satire and skepticism that also are part

of the history of this tradition of poetry ("Immortality Seeking”). 124. YFKS, 17. This inscription is crudely written, and the final illegible character of the poem was rewritten to the right of the first line. See Sakata, Tei Dosho, 153-154. 125. See also ibid., 142-144. Sakata makes the interesting suggestion that Zheng Daozhao carved the name of Master Red Pine, believed to be able to control rain, on Cloud Peak Mountain in the hope of producing rain during a time of famine. 126. These characters, larger and written with squarer brushwork than that seen in the two poems signed by Zheng, are on a surface that was smoothed before the carving was added, and this difference in technique may also have affected the way the calligraphy was executed. In general, the surfaces of inscriptions on Cloud Peak Mountain that are more highly finished display square brushwork, while rougher surfaces display rounded brushwork, produced by holding the brush perpendicular to the writing surface and by adapting the strokes to the irregularities of the stone. 127. On the relationship between visual perception and naming, see Metz, “Perceived and Named.” Compare the effect of names selected for landscape formations by early European explor­ ers of Australia as discussed in Carter, Road to Botany Bay, 31. 128. Paludan, Chinese Spirit Road, 31-35; W u Hung, M om m entality ,276—278; Chen Mingda, Chen M ingda gu jia n zh u yu diaosu shilun, 142-155.

129. Following the seven characters identifying the right tower are the words “Perching and resting at this place—writing from the hand of the Honorable Zheng” (Q i x iy u ci Zheng gong zh i shou shu). Rather than accepting this as evidence that Zheng Daozhao himself inscribed the right tower, Sakata Genshu argues that the inscriptions identifying the two towers are by differ­ ent hands and speculates that the inscription for the right tower may have been copied from characters in the Poem on D iscussing the Classics (Sakata, Tei Ddshd, 160-161; and Sakata, “Siyue zakao,” 58). 130. Shuijingzhujiao, 991; W u Hung, M onumentality, 276-277. For que towers at the tomb of Li Gang (d. 172 c.e.) in Shandong recorded by Li Daoyuan, see Shuijingzhu jiao, 290. 131. Gao Wen and Gao Chenggang, Zhongguo huaxiang shiguanyishu, 12. This is the earliest known example of que towers labeled as the Gate of Heaven. A similar inscription, reading “Heavenly Gate”( Tianmen), appears on two coffin ornaments in the Royal Ontario Museum that depict the Queen Mother of the West and other fantastic beings within a heavenly space flanked by que towers. Also in the Royal Ontario Museum are two silver-plated bronze coffin ornaments in the shape of que towers that were affixed to a coffin. See Ruitenbeek, Chinese Shadows, catalogue nos. 57-60. For a discussion of Han images of towers, see Eugene Y. Wang, Shaping the Lotus Sutra, 31. 132. See Loewe, Waps to Paradise,47-50. 133. W enxuan, 11.226; trans. Owen, Anthology o f Chinese Literature, 187 (modified). Another translation can be found in Knechtges, W en xuan, 2:249. 134. In a poem by Li Jiao (active late seventh to early eighth century) titled “Mist” (Yan 煙),the idea of a road flanked by que towers is explicitly linked to “Nine Immortals”: “Roaming about the double-tower road / reaching and touching the robes of Nine Immortals” (Quan Tang shi, 59.701).

135. Shiji, 6.256. 136. Wu Hung, Monumentalit}; , 131.

137. Gu Kaizhi, “Hua Yuntaishan j i , 1:582. 138. Sullivan, Birth o f Landscape Painting in China, 98. 139. Cui Tianyong and Wang Zhongyi, “Laizhou shi Yunfengshan faxian de Beiwei Zheng Daozhao keshi.” I am grateful to Professor Liu Tao for informing me of the discoveries reported in this article and for giving me a copy of the journal in which they are published. 140. Although they are homonyms in modern Mandarin, f山 xian (first tone) and 賢 xian (second tone) were pronounced, respectively, as “sian” and K(Y £ n M(where T is a velar fricative) in medieval Chinese. See Pulleybank, Lexicon o f Reconstructed Pronunciation,334-335. 141. My identifications of the xian named on Cloud Peak Mountain are based primarily on the Arrayed Biographies o f Immortals (L iexia n zhuan), a Han dynasty compilation of biographies of immortals. See Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien tchouan. 142. The upper part of the character/e叩 (phoenix) was damaged during the Cultural Revolution. See Sakata, TeiDosho, i57; Steuber, "Wang Ziqiao,” 70-71; and Hart, “Speech of Prince Chin.” 143. Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien tchouan, 115-118. 144. Shiji, 28.1385. 145. Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien tchouan,109-114; Steuber, “Wang Ziqiao”; and Bujard, “Culte de Wangzi Qiao." 146. For a Han dynasty stele dedicated to Wang Zijin on Mt. Song, see Holzman, Immortals, Festivals, and Poetry in M edieval China, part 3:15-57. See also Chen Yuan, Daojia jin sh i lue, 2. 1 am

grateful to Mr. Shawn Eichman for this reference and for other erudite suggestions concerning the inscriptions on Cloud Peak Mountain. 147-Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien tchouan, 35-42. 1 take the character xuan 玄 as a homophonic substitution for xuan 懸. See Pulleybank, Lexicon o f Reconstructed Pronunciation, 350. A passage in the H uainanzi explains the mythic geography of the Kunlun Mountains as a sequence of everloftier regions, leading to immortality: "If the height of the Kunlun Mountains is doubled, this

[i.e., the mountain twice as high as Kunlun] is called Cool Wind Mountain. If one climbs this mountain, he will not die. If the height is again doubled, that mountain is called Hanging Gardens. If one ascends it, he will gain supernatural power and be able to control the wind and the rain. If the height is again doubled, it reaches up to Heaven itself. As one mounts to there, one will become a spirit. It is called the abode of the Grand [Celestial] Emperor” (trans. Major, “Topography and Cosmology in Early Han Thought," 44 [modified]). 148. For references that pair Wang Zijin and Chi Songzi, see Steuber, “Wang Ziqiao,” 52ff. 149. Shiji, 28.1367—1368. 150. Ibid., 28.1390. 151. Zhuangziyinde, 2;trans., Watson, Complete W orks o f Chuang T iu , 32-33. 152. Little is known about the legend of Master Hongya. See Cui Tianyong and Wang Zhongyi, "Laizhou shi Yunfeng shan faxian de Beiwei Zheng Daozhao keshi/’ 7. 153. Could this be the immortal Master Red Beard (Chixuzi)? See Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien tchouan, 135-136. Or Master Red Essence (Chijingzi), whom Gan Zhongke (active 33-7 b.c.e.), a

native of Qi in Shandong, claimed to have met? See David Yu, H istory o f Chinese Daoism , 1:73—74. For other possible identifications, see Yu Shuting, Zheng Daozhao yu sishan keshi, 59-60. 154. Henderson, Development and Decline o f Chinese Cosmology, chap. 2, especially 61-63. 155. Yu Shuting, Zheng Daozhao yu sishan keshi, 52-53. 156. Campany, Strange W riting, 196. 157. For other shrines and inscriptions dedicated to Wang Zijin, see ibid., 193-195.

158. Brashier, “Spirit Lord of Baishi Mountain,” 209-210. 159. Krauss, “In the Name of Picasso,, ’ 33. Krauss makes an important distinction between the sign-as-label and the sign as representation. The former “merely doubles an already material presence by giving it its name” ; the latter creates a new reality by affixing a word or phrase that is in some way different from the ostensible identity of the image, artifact, or site to which it is added. For example, the word “stone” written on a large, oblong boulder would be an example of the sign-as-label; the words “Immortal’s Pillow" written on the same boulder would be an exam­ ple of the sign as representation. Essential to the semiotic function of the named sites on Cloud Peak Mountain is the way they do not label formations as rocks or boulders but confer on the sites new identities that liken the actual geology of the mountain, to things or places that are not really there. 160. Erickson, “Boshanhi.” 161. “Harmonizing with Liu Yongzhou, Hui, on a Boshan Incense Burner” (He Liu Yongzhou hui boshan xianglu), Shen Yue ji jiaojian, 384; trans. Soper, Textual Evidence fo r the Secular A rts, 39. 162. Schipper, “Taoism, ” 33. For the use of incense burners in the Maoshan tradition of Daoism, see Strickman, “On the Alchemy of Tao Hung-ching,w169. 163. Rawson develops these ideas in three major studies:“Power of Images”; “Creating Universes"; and “Eternal Palaces.” 164. The standard English-language introduction to the topic of paradise gardens and hunting parks is Ledderose, “Earthly Paradise.” 165. Shiji, 12.482; HS, 25.1204. 166. Ledderose, “Earthly Paradise,” 168. See also W u Hung, M onumentality, 174-176. 167. Rawson, ‘Tower of Images,” 147. See also Rawson, "Eternal Palaces,*117. 168. Rawson, "Origins of Chinese Mountain Painting,” 32. 169. Yang Xuanzhi, Luoyang qielan ji, 1.67; trans. Wang Yi-t’ung,Record o f Buddhist M onaster­ ies, 61 (modified). A landscape garden in Luoyang owned by Minister of Agriculture Zhang Lun rivaled or surpassed in scale the imperial garden and was understood by contemporaries as a representation of an immortal's paradise. See Wang Yi-t’ung ,Record o f Buddhist M onasteries, 91-97. For a brief discussion of this garden, see Eugene Y. Wang, “Refiguring,” 120. 170. Sakata relates the carving of the inscriptions on Cloud Peak Mountain to the practice of carving zaoxiangji, first in Buddhism and later in Daoism, as evidenced at Yungang and Long­ men, and to images such as the steles of Yao Boduo (Tei Dosho, 142—143). 171. Bokenkamp, M Yao Boduo Steles.” See also Abe, Ordinary Images, 281-287. 172. Kamitsuka, "Lao-tzu in Six Dynasties Taoist Sculpture,w74. 173. Liu Yang has noted three functions of Daoist monuments such as the stele dedicated by Yao Boduo: to intercede with deities for the sake of receiving blessings, to symbolically encour­ age proper ritual behavior, and to serve as a pictorial guide for religious practice ("Origins of Daoist Iconography,” 34). 174. Kamitsuka, “Lao-tzu in Six Dynasties Taoist Sculpture,M75. 175.Ibid. 176.

Shiji,6.265. For several imperial and princely burials of the Han period, tombs were

excavated directly into the sides of mountains. According to Robert L. Thorp, the appropriation of these mountains signified the exalted status of the deceased and created an abode that, by its location at a lofty altitude, was attractive to immortals ("Mountain Tombs,M31-32). A Western Han tomb was placed on the summit of Mt. Wei, in Shandong (Beningson and Liu, Providing fo r the A fterlife ,12). See also Rawson, “Eternal Palaces.”

177. Eugene Y. Wang, "Coffins and Confucianism, ” 62, fig. 7. 1 am grateful to Professor Wang for further insights concerning the imagery of this coffin provided in correspondence of Mar. 13, 2005. See also Davis, “Stone Sarcophagus.” 178. Rawson, “Creating Universes,1’ 137. 179. Lillian Lan-ying Tseng has argued that the star map on the ceiling of Yuan Yi’s tomb was intended to represent stellar configurations that portended Yuan Yi’s forced suicide (Tseng, “Visual Replication and Political Persuasion”). For the original report on the discovery of the tombs, see Luoyang bowuguan, "Henan Luoyang Beiwei Yuan Yi mu diaocha.” 180. Cheng, "Fabricating Life out of Death,” 121. 181. Ibid., 122. See also Ho, “Twelve Calendrical Animals in Tang Tombs/' 69. For the original archaeological report on the tomb of Lou Rui, see Shanxi sheng kaogu yanjiusuo and Taiyuan shi wenwu guanli wei yuanhui, “Taiyuan shi Bei Qi Lou Rui mu fajue jianbao■ ” 182. Steuber, “Wang Ziqiao,” 155-156. Steuber provides references to tomb images believed to represent Wang Ziqiao, Master Red Pine, and other immortals. For a comprehensive account of the Dengxian tomb, see Julian。,Teng-hsien. 183. Eugene Y. Wang, “Coffins and Confucianism,” 59. 184. For the role of filial piety in Daoism, see Kohn, “Immortal Parents and Universal Kin.” 185. YFKS, 27.

CH APTER TH R S£ . THS VIRTUAL ST E LE ON MT. TIE AND THE MERITS OF SCA LS 1. Professor Lothar Ledderose and researchers from the University of Heidelberg, in association with scholars in China, are engaged in a massive project of documenting all of the sixth-century Buddhist stone inscriptions in Shandong, Henan, and Hebei. The volumes they will publish will become the definitive reference sources for studying Buddhist epigraphy from medieval China, and many of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies that abound in available publications will be corrected by their work. 2. W u Hung, W u Liang Shrine, 4-6. 3. Zhongguo gudai shuhua tumu, 23:236-238. The album is recorded with complete transcrip­ tions of the inscribed texts in Pang Yuanji, Xuzhai minghua lut i6.4b_5a. Another version of Huang Yi’s album, consisting of only six leaves, is in the Art Museum, Princeton University. I am grate­ ful to Cary Y. Liu and Eileen Hsiang-Ling Hsu for this information. See the entry by Eileen Hsiang-Ling Hsii in Cary Y. Liu, Nylan, and Barbieri-Low, Recarving C hinas Past, 471-478. In his diary of visits to sites in Shandong in 1797, a year after he painted the album in Beijing, Huang Yi mentions Buddhist sutras carved in Zou County at Mt. Gang, Mt. Tie, Mt. Jian, and Mt. Ge, but he adds that “because the wind was great, I did not get to see them” (Huang Yi, Daipanfanggu riji, ib). For another set of paintings by Huang Yi documenting his visits to steles in the area of Luo­ yang, see Tseng, “Retrieving the Past, Inventing the Memorable.” 4. In the Qing dynasty, 1 c/ii'was the equivalent of 32 centimeters and 1 cun the equivalent of 3.2 centimeters. Huang Yi’s measurements for the characters of the sutra inscription, which range from 40 to 60 centimeters in height, are too small. His record of the size of the characters of the Stone Eulogy, which average 20-22 centimeters in height, is closer to the mark. 5. Huang Yi misread this passage. The characters xian tao, which he took to be a proper name, mean literally “all that is hidden,” and they are used in the Stone Eulogy to describe the comprehen­ sive understanding of Seng’an Daoyi. See Zhang Guangcun, “Tieshan kejing song,” 218.

6. Huang Yi, s rubbings were seen by Ruan Yuan. See Ruan, Shanzuo jin sh i zhi, 10.24b—26a. 7. Ye Changchi’ Yushit 433-434. 8. The Stone Eulogy refers to the mountain as “the southern slope of Nangang of the great Mt. Gang, southeast of Xiaqiu.” Xiaqiu was the seat ofYanzhou Commandery. See Zhang Guangcun, "Tieshan kejing song,” 224. 9. Hu, "Zouxian beichao moya kejing diaocha yu yanjiu,” 249. A second “footprint” of Li Tieguai appears on Mt. Yi, southeast of Zoucheng. 10. The passage in the printed version of the sutra contains only 930 characters. See Ti3:5〇c. The greater number of characters on Mt. Tie is the result of repetitions that crept into the carved transcription. See Wang Sili and Lai Fei, “Zhongguo beichao,M18. 11. The complete title in Chinese is Dafangdeng dajijing;T i^ .ia-407a.. The title D aji jing also has the meaning wGreat Assembly, ” referring to the host of bodhisattvas and other deities assem­ bled to hear the sutra preached by Sakyamuni. See Quan Genxian and Zhang Youdao, Zhongguo Fojiao wenhua wendian, 1:40-45. See also Mizuno, Buddhist Sutras, 71,195; and Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time,171-172. Passages from the Great Collection Sutra were carved also at Mt. Hongding

and the Southern Xiangtangshan Caves. See Zhang Zong, "Shandong beiya kejing,” 12. 12. The Yuezangfen (Candragarbha Sutra), translated into Chinese by Narendrayasas, is a principal text of the doctrine of mofa (Final Dharma), but it does not appear to have been incor­ porated into the Great Collection Sutra at the time the Mt. Tie inscription was carved. See Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time, 171-172. 13. This discrepancy reflects the fluid state of sutra titles and chapters during the medieval period. See Zhang Zong, “Beichao zhi Sui, ” 791121. 14. In general, I follow the transcription of the carved text in ZGSF 12:289, though in some passages I have restored missing characters omitted by the ZGSF editors through reference to the printed sutra in the Taisho canon. At several points the ZGSF transcription differs both from the characters visible in published rubbings and from the printed text of the Great Collection Sutra. For example, in the ZGSF transcription the character read as jing 靜 clearly should be zheng 靜, based on the evidence of the horizontal strokes of the "speech” radical visible on the left side of the character; this is also the character that appears in the printed sutra text. In the ZGSF tran­ scription the passage reading “Non-rebirth and non-extinction are called the formless form” (wu sheng wu mie ming wu xiang xiang) omits two characters from the printed sutra, simplifying the statement that in the Taisho canon reads "Non-rebirth and non-extinction are called the formless formless form” (wu sheng wu mie ming wu xiang wu xiang xiang). Here, the ZGSF transcription appears to record the text exactly as it was carved on Mt. Tie. The textual problems raised by discrepancies between transcriptions, rubbings, and the printed version of the sutra demand a separate study. Until photographs of every character carved on Mt. Tie are available, the only way to confirm what is actually there is to go to the mountain. 15. This passage illustrates further sources of textual confusion that arise in the study of the monumental Shandong inscriptions. In a composite rubbing of the complete Stone Eulogy published in the journal Shufa (no. 2,1989, p. 33), a damaged character appears after the character tian 天 in the eighth column of the text. In the close-up view of the rubbing published in the same journal (p. 26), the damaged character was cut out. What appears to be the same rubbing, with the damaged character removed, appears also in ZGSF 12: pi. 27 (16-10). In their transcription of

the text, however, the ZGSF editors insert the character z i 子, basing this reading, it seems, on a parallel passage at the end of the sutra text on Mt. Tie, where the word, though damaged, can be discerned. See ZGSF 12:297. In Shisong, 14, the rubbing appears with the damaged characters in

place. In their transcriptions of the Stone Eulogy, both Yu Lihua and Zhang Guangcun include the character zi. See Yu Lihua, “Shisong, ” 310; and Zhang Guangcun, “Tieshan kejing song,,, 218. 16.

As with the published rubbings of the sutra passage and the Stone Eulogy, rubbings of the

Inscribed Record have been cut and reconfigured in various ways. Compare the rubbing in fig. 3.6

with that in ZGSF 12: pi. 28, in which photographs of the columns were spliced together to eliminate the space on either side of the central column naming Seng,an Daoyi as the calligrapher. 17. 1 follow the reconstruction of the text proposed by Lai Fei, MSeng, an kejing kaoshu," 114. 18. The commandery, its seat in Qufu, had been known as Lu Commandery until the first year of the Northern Qi, when it was renamed Rencheng Commandery. See Wang Sili and Lai'Fei, “Zhongguo beichao,” 24. 1 follow Lai Fei’s interpretation of the characters qi and zhou as names of the two dynasties under which these men served, a reading of the text first proposed by Ruan Yuan. See Lai Fei, "Seng’an kejing kaoshu,” 114-115. My translation of the official title “Souyang haorenMas "Recommender of Worthy Men” also follows Lai Fei, who cites Ruan Yuan for the existence of such a title. 19. Wang Sili and Lai Fei interpret the term jingzhu to mean that Sun Xia was the sutra donor ("Zhongguo beichao,B24). ¥ oryiyi societies of the Northern Dynasties, see Wong, Chinese Steles, 52—59; and Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society, 259-277. See also Abe, Ordinary Images, 210-211. ' 20. According to Zhang Guangcun, the stone of Mt. Tie is relatively pure granite, which flakes off in layers. Even in areas of the inscription where erosion is severe, there are still traces of carved strokes. The carving was done with a rounded, bow-shaped tool. In lines carved most deeply, the interiors of the strokes are smooth, while the quartz crystals in the untouched gran­ ite are rough and uneven to the touch. This makes it possible to feel the presence of strokes, a method used by Zhang to produce a new transcription of the Stone Eulogy, which I have followed. Zhang notes also that the visibility of the characters changes greatly under different lighting and humidity. See Zhang Guangcun, "Tieshan kejing song, ’, 216. 21. For examples of these colophons, see Hsii, “Six-Dynasties Xiejing Calligraphy." 22. For a study of Buddhism during the medieval period based on close readings of zao­ xiangji, see Hou, W u liu shiji. 23. Zhang Guangcun has attempted to identify the author and calligrapher of the Stone Eulogy as Sun Boli, the same person he believes is named in the Inscribed Record as the sutra super­

visor, Sun Yu (“Shandong beichao moya kejing, ’). 24. I follow Zhang Guangcun’s general interpretation of this passage ("Tieshan kejing song,” 222), but I am unsure of the meaning of the passage. 25. Zhang interprets this line to mean that the donors dedicated wealth to Buddhist temples— the dharma court— and presented precious ritual objects such as incense burners or drums (ibid., 223). 26. Transcription based on ibid., 2x7-218. 27. Carving sutras on stone appears to have been unknown, or extremely limited, in India and Central Asia. Emperor Asoka (ca. 274-ca. 236 b.c.e.) had edicts carved on massive rocks and on stone pillars in India. Under the Kushan emperor Kaniska (fl. ca. 120 c.e.), commentaries on sutras compiled by a council assembled by the emperor were engraved on copper plates and preserved in the imperial residence in Kashmir. See Mizuno, Buddhist Sutras, 161,158. No sutras appear among the inscriptions discovered in northern Pakistan along the Karakorum Highway. See Jettmar and Volker, Between Gandhara and the S ilk Roads. Concerning large-scale carving of

sutras in China, Katherine R. Tsiang cites the date 555 as the earliest that can be associated with “this type of activity, or its intent” ("Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts,w235). There is only scattered evidence for sutras carved on stone before the middle of the sixth century in China. For the fifth-century votive stupas carved during the Northern Liang, see below, n. 101. Zhao Chao cites a Northern Wei example of a carved sutra dated 517 (Zhongguo gudai shike gailun, 62). Accord­ ing to Tsien, the name of the Amitabha Buddha was carved on a cliff at Xuzhou, Jiangsu, in 450 (W ritten on Bamboo and Silk , 85). A brush-written passage from the Foshuo weizengyou jing in cave 169 at the Bingling Monastery in Gansu is dated 420 (Zhang Baoxi, Gansu shiku pishu, 59). 28. Trans. Tsiang, "Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts,” 234. 29. Ibid., 252-253. 30. See chapter 1. 31. Tsiang, “Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts,” 236-239. See also Wang Sili and Lai Fei, “Zhongguo beichao, ” 2-9; and Howard, “Buddhist Cave Sculpture of the Northern Qi Dynasty,” 10. 32. According to Zhang Zong, the earliest carved sutras passages in Shandong, now unfor­ tunately destroyed, appeared on Mt. Qianfo in Ji'nan and dated from the Northern Wei dynasty (“Shandong beiya kejing,” 4-5). On Mt. Sili, fragments of a sutra passage appear next to an inscrip­ tion for a Buddhist image dated 561. See Lai Fei, “Seng’an kejing kaoshu," 103-104. 33. Lai Fei, “Seng, an kejing kaoshu,” 102-115; and Lai Fei, KYu Shandong beichao moya kejing you guan de si yuan.” 34. Kiriya Seiichi associates the longer texts on slopes at Mt. Tie, Mt. Ge, and Mt. Tai with the late period of Seng'an Daoyi’s career (“Bei Qi da shamen An Daoyi, ” 74-86). 35. Tsiang, "Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts,” 250-253. 36. Ch’en, Buddhism in China, 60. 37. Zhao Kaiqiu, “Wei Jin Nanbeichao shiqi., ,See also Yao Weiqun, Fojiao banruo sixiang fazhan yuanliu.


38. Zhang Zong, "Shandong beiya kejing,” 9-10. 39. Succinct overviews of these inscriptions can be found in ibid.; and Wang Sili and Lai Fei, ‘‘Zhongguo beichao,’, 10-18. See also Kiriya, “Bei Qi da shamen An Daoyi”; and You, “Beichao liu shiji.” 40. For an introduction to the Qingzhou discoveries, see Nickel, Return o f the Buddha. 41. Lai Fei, “Seng’an kejing kaoshu,Miosff. 42. The name “Great Vacuity King Buddha,Mcarved also at several other sites in Shandong, unlike the name “Vacuity King Buddha” (Kong wang fo), does not appear in canonical Buddhist texts. According to Zhang Zong, the name is a composite term intended to refer to all Buddhas ("Shandong beiya kejing,” 14). The tops of the two parallel vertical strokes in the phonetic element of the character fo are in the form of human hands. Kitaj ima Shinichi has suggested that this pictorial element may allude to a story of the Buddha raising his own burning hand to use as a torch to guide the unenlightened (“Beichao moya kejing,w281). Similar pictorial elements appeared in the character/o in the inscribed name “Great Vacuity King Buddha” at Mt. Jian (ZGSF, 12: pi. 21 [5-1]) and in an inscription found at Mt. Ergu in Pingyin County (Sakata, Chugoku no magai kokukyd, fig. 35). The latter is accompanied by three inscribed names. One of these, "Seng’an yi,”

may be a variant form of the name of Seng’an Daoyi. In addition to their great size and pictorial embellishments, the characters of “Great Vacuity King Buddha" at Mt. Hongding are unusual also in being carved with low-relief striations. Lis Jung Ln and Lu Dadong are preparing a study of this technique.

43 -Zhang Zong, "Beichao zhi Sui,” 68-70. Kiriya argues that the date should be interpreted as corresponding to the year 553 (“Bei Qi da shamen An Daoyi,” 64). 4 4 -The carved name of Fahong, an Indian who some scholars believe may have been the abbot of the temple at Mt. Hongding, appears adjacent to the names of the twenty-one deities on the northern cliff. On the southern cliff an inscription honoring Fahong, dated 564, describes the

monk’s virtues and his commitment to the doctrine of vacuity: “If it was not vacuity, he did not speak of it;if it was not the absolute, he did not talk about it.” Also on the southern cliff is the same passage from the M anjusri Sutra that was carved on the other side ofthe valley and the name “Great Vacuity King Buddha,” displayed both as a completed inscription and as outlined charac­ ters that were never fully carved (ZGSF, 12:268). 45. Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 10-16. 46. Hu, “Yishan Wuhuafeng," 166-167. Hu is no longer certain that one of the donors, whose name he read as "Seng'an of Dongping, ” was actually Seng’an Daoyi (personal communication). 47-A chart prepared by Hu Xinli lists the various sites in Shandong at which this passage from the M anjusrJSutra was carved (ibid., 169). The person named as the donor of this inscription, Dong Zhentuo, was the leader of a Buddhist lay society and a retainer of the powerful Hulu clan, which had assisted in the founding of the Northern Qi dynasty. Fearing that Hulii Guang, a former military commander, was plotting rebellion, the Northern Qi ruler Gao Wei exterminated the entire Hulii clan in 572. The inscriptions must date from before this time, after which the donor would have been unwise to call attention to his association with his unfortunate former patrons. See Wang Sili and Lai Fei, "Zhongguo beichao" 22. 48. As both Zhang Zong and Kiriya Seiichi have noted, the natural platform in front of the inscribed stone also offers an excellent space for sitting in meditation. See Zhang Zong, “Shandong beiya kejing,” 21; and Kiriya, “Bei Qi da shamen An Daoyi.,, 49. ZGSF 12:271. For the role of the Yang family ofMt. Tai as donors of Buddhist icons and inscriptions, see Lis Jung Lu and Lu Dadong, “Eastern Shaqiu Nunnery Inscription." Yang Zhi, whose role in repairing the Bao-Xie zhandao is the subject of Inscription fo r the Stone Gate, was a member of the Yang family of Mt. Tai. See chapter 1. 50. Liu Hui, Taishan zongjiao panjiu, 184-188. See also Lu Zongyuan, Wenhua Taishan, 44-46. 51. Personal communication from Mr. Liu Hui, director of the Temple of Mt. Tai, July 1998. 52. Shen, “Entering the Unattainable Country of Lanka.” 53. 1 am grateful to Shen Hsueh-man for calling my attention to the name of this nun. 54. Ziircher, Buddhist Conquest o f China. 55. Bei Q i shu, 8.113; trans. Soper, Literary Evidence, 115. The construction of this colossus began in 551 under Emperor Xuan. For a report on the remains of the statue, said to have been 66.6 meters high, see Li Yuqun, "Jinyang Xishan dafo yu Tongzisi dafo de chubu kaocha.H 56. Zhao Kaiqiu, "Wei Jin Nanbeichao shiqi,” 79. 57. For a survey of Buddhist archaeology in Shandong, see Zhang Zong, “Qingzhou Region,” 44-46. 58. Hu, “Shandong Zouxian faxian de Beichao tongfo zaoxiang.” 59. Zhang Zong, “Qingzhou Region,” 47. Wong suggests that Northern Qi Buddhist steles discovered at Xiangping Temple in Boxian, Anhui, may have been reduced to their current fragmentary condition during the persecution that reached this part of China in 577 (Chinese Steles, 69). 60. Ch'en, Buddhism in China, 186-194. See also Soper, Literarp Evidence, 118-121. 61. T52: 374C; cited by Soper, Literary Evidence, 119.

62. Bianzheng lun (Discussion of debates on rectification), T52: 5o8b; cited by Soper, Literary Evidence, 120. See also Zhou shu, 7:120—121.

63. My discussion of the doctrine of mofa is based on Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time. 64. Chappell, “Early Forebodings, ” 124-125. 65. Ibid., 138. 66. Ibid., 139. 67. Shen, “Realizing the Buddha’s Dharm a Body, 267. 68. Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time, iio - m . For a study of Huisi and his “Vow,” see Magnin, La vie et Voeuvre de H uisi. 69. Zhang Zong,“Beichao zhi Sui,” 69. Dedications carved on small stone stupas from Gansu dating from 434 and 436 speak of moshi (the "Final Age”) and mofa. According to Stanley Abe, these terms do not correspond to the concept of the “Final Dharma” articulated in the sixth century but express instead the donors' more general sense of misfortune “to have been born into an age without a living BuddhaM(Ordinary Images, 159-169). 70. Chappell, "Early Forebodings" 145-146. 71. Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time, 172. 72. Tsiang, “Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts,” 235. 73. Trans, ibid., 237. 74- Zhang Guangcun, “Tieshan kejing song,” 218. Based on the similarity between these texts, Lai Fei argues that Seng’an Daoyi was in contact with Tang Yong and probably worked at the Xiangtangshan Caves (“Seng’an kejing kaoshu,” 130). 75. Tsiang, "Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts,” 254. 76. Zhang Zong, “Beichao zhi Sui, ” 67. It should be noted also that Huisi was in Shandong during the rebellion of Hou Jing, ca. 549-552. See Magnin, La vie et Voeuvre de H uisi, 15—17. 77. Wong, Chinese Steles, 114. 78. Zhang Guangcun makes this point in “Tieshan kejing song,” 231-232. 79. Zhao Chao, Han W ei Nanbeichao, 78.

80. Ibid., 463. 81. Ibid., 470. 82. See Ledderose, “Ein Programm fair den Weltuntergangw; and Ledderose, “Thunder Sound Cave.” 83. Fangshan shijing tiji huibian, 1-2; trans. based on Ledderose, “Thunder Sound Cave广241; and Shen, “Realizing the Buddha's Dharm a Body,” 2681122. 84. Mizuno, Buddhist Sutras, 161. 85. Goody, Logic o f W riting t 20.

86. Ibid.’ 38. 87. For a summary of critiques of Goody’s theories, see Olson, W orld on Paper, 45-53. 88. For picture recitation, see Mair, Painting and Performance. 89. For a discussion of the concept of merit derived from copying sutras, making icons, or performing other pious acts, see Kieschnick, Impact o f Buddhism, chap. 3. See also Teiser, Scrip­ ture o f the Ten Kings, 160-162. 90. Mizuno, Buddhist Sutras, 162. Mizuno notes the anachronism of ascribing to Sakyamuni the idea of copying sutras— a practice that did not begin until centuries after his death. 91. Hurvitz, Scripture o f the Lotus Blossom, 264. 92. Ibid” 3 3 4 -3 3 5 .

93. ZGSF 12:277; trans. Mu, Diam ond Sutra, 122.

94. SDZS 5:151. 95. ZGSF 12:261. For the identification of the text of this stele, see Zhang Zong, MShandong beiya kejing,” 5,13. 96. Kieschnick, Impact o f Buddhism, 172-176. 97. Schopen, "The Phrase 'sa prthivlpradesas caityabhuto bhavet.w 98. Hurvitz, Scripture o f the Lotus Blossom, 178. 99. See Boucher, ttPratltyasamutpddagdthdtn6-8. See also Tsiang, "Embodiments of Buddhist Texts, ” 60-62. 100. Legge,Travels ofFa-hsien, 44-45. 101. For the Northern Liang stupa pillars, see the following: Yin, “Dunhuang shi bowuguan cang sanjian Bei Liang shita”; Howard, “Liang Patronage"; Soper, “Northern Liang”; Eugene Y. Wang, “What Do Trigrams Have to Do with Buddhas?”; and Abe, Ordinary Images, 123-171. Note that Howard challenges the identification of these artifacts as stupas (“Liang Patronage广253-257). 102. Boucher, “Pratityasamutpddagdthd, ” 2. 103. 1 am grateful to Professor Eugene Y. Wang for his help with this point. 104. Mino [Tsiang], “Bodies of Buddhas,” 34-44; and Tsiang, "Monumentalization of Bud­ dhist Texts,” 236-238. For the importance of stupa imagery at the Xiangtangshan Caves, see Howard, “Buddhist Cave Sculpture of the Northern Qi Dynasty,” 10. 105. 1 owe this observation to Tsiang, "Monumentalization of Buddhist Texts, ” 254-255. Abe notes that at least one of the Northern Liang dynasty votive stupas may have been displayed on a mountain (Ordinary Images, 161). 106. Trans. Muf Diamond Sutra, m-112,122 (modified). For the content of the original text carved on Mt. Tai, see BCMY, 240. 107. Schopen, "The Phrase (sa prthivipradesas caityabhuto bhavet/n 152,177-178. 108. Kiriya has suggested that some of the sites of the carved sutras were intended as locations for meditation, including the practice of “staring at the wall” used in early Chan Bud­ dhism ("Chugoku Hokusei ki ni okeru"). Lai Fei also has proposed that these sites may have been used as daochang, or ritual spaces for meditation (“Seng’an kejing kaoshu, ” 128). 109. Wang Yi-t’ung ,Record o f Buddhist M onasteries, 173-174. 110. Campany, “Notes on the Devotional Uses and Symbolic Functions of Sutra Texts,” 36. Campany has shown also that, like statues of Buddhist deities, copies of sutras were said to move of their own accord, to miraculously survive conflagrations, and to protect their owners from physical harm. Conversely, those who damaged or defaced sutras could suffer dire consequences, as reflected in the story of a former nun cursed with a fatal skin disease after she used the silk on which sutras had been written to make clothing (ibid., 41). 111. For a concise survey of responses to Buddhist relics and icons, see Kieschnick, Impact o f Buddhism, chap. 1.

112. Kraus, Brushes with Power, 160. 113. Abe, "Fifth-Century Chinese Buddhist Cave Temple,w9-10. See also You, "Beichao liu shiji,” 15. 114. Assmann, “Ancient Egypt and the Materiality of the Sign,” 26. 115. Eugene Y. Wang, “Watching the Steps,” 123. 116. Shen has proposed that following the route determined by the placement of the text of the Lankdvatdra Sutra on Mt. Gang evokes the Buddha's gradual entry into the transcendent Country of Lanka described in the text (“Entering the Unattainable Country of Lanka”). Many years earlier, Michihata Ryoshu proposed a similar idea in his Chugoku no sekibutsu to sekkyo, 24.

117- Hou Xudong, W u liu shiji, 252. Aikawa cites Han dynasty steles such as the Stele o f the Spirit Lord ofB aishi M ountain of 183 as precedents for stone inscriptions that call attention to

their geographical positions (KSujoshi tetsuzan TaishU-kyd, 14). He also notes similar passages that refer to Mt. Tai and Mt. Lao in the Inscription on Heavenly Column M ountain by Zheng Shuzu. See YFKS, 56. * 118. Hon Xudong, W u liu shiji, 252. 1 have not been able to identify Hucheng or W u River. The latter, literally “the river of enlightenment,” may be an allusion to Buddhist concepts. 119. Ibid. For the complete text of this inscription, see Tokiwa and Sekino, Shina bukkyd shiseki, 2:152-154. This stele image is discussed also in Wong, Chinese Steles,140-145. 1 have not been able to identify the site I translate as “sacred garden of the sarira: ' Sudatta Anathapindada was a wealthy elder of Sravasti who purchased the Jetavana Park for the Buddha by covering its entire area in gold. See Soothill and Hodous, Dictionary ofChinese Buddhist Terms, 293a. Hou Xudong stresses that the choice of locations for images was related also to the Buddhist concern for con­ ducting rituals at auspicious times (W u liu shiji, 266-267). 120. ZGSF, 12:272; trans. Zhang Chen. 121.1 take the word “Han” in this sentence to be a reference to the Milky Way. See Zhongwen da ddian, 5:8460.

122. Zhang Guangcun, “Tieshan kejing song, ” 218. 123. My translation and identification of sites in this passage follow the interpretation of Zhang Guangcun (ibid., 218,224—22511x132-36). Owing to damage to the inscription and to the obscurity of the references, only Xiaqiu, Mt. Tai, and Mt. Yi can be identified with certainty. The coordinates mapped out in the Stone Eulogy recall statements in other types of donor inscriptions that note the value of placing images at a crossroads. See Wong, Chinese Steles, 44. 124. For zaoxiangji that refer to the quality of materials and workmanship, see Hou Xudong, W u liu shiji, 250. As Alexander C. Soper noted many years ago, inscriptions that emphasize the

material properties of Buddhist icons follow the precedent of inscriptions on Han dynasty funer­ ary monuments that speak of celebrated craftsmen employed by patrons and proclaim the excel­ lence of their skills (Literary Evidence, 137-139). See also Wong, Buddhist Steles, 70. 125. La Ban, also known as Kongshu Zi, was a famous craftsman of the state of Lu said to have lived during the time of Confucius. See Lau, M encius, 117. In the Inscription/or the Stone Gate, the workmanship of the carving is likened to that of Lu Ban. See chapter 1. The artisan Chui, according to the Zhuangzi’ "could draw as true as a compass or a T-square because his fingers changed along with things and he didn’t let his mind get in the way” (Watson, Complete W orks ofChuang Tzu, 206). 126. Jade plaques and golden slips may allude to the imagined formats of Daoist scriptures preserved in heavenly storehouses. See Yu Lihua, “Shisong chutan, ” 314. 127. In this passage I follow the transcription of the Stone Eulogy in ibid., 310. Compare the transcription of Zhang Guangcun, who reads the character gong 功 as /e 肋 and proposes a more complex interpretation of this passage ("Tieshan kejing song,” 227-228). The passage clearly refers to inscriptions said to have been carved by King Mu of Zhou on his mythic journey to the west. See M u T ianzi zhuan, 2.11a, 3.15b; Kern, Stele Inscriptions, 54, 56-57. 128. In the colophon to his transcription of the Vim alakird Nirdesa Sutra of 393, the layman Wang Xianggao writes, w[My handwriting] is careless and clumsy. Those who will see this, please do not laugh.” See Hsii, “Six-Dynasties Xiejing Calligraphy,H70-71. 129. 1 am grateful to Professor Eugene Y. Wang for informing me of the name of this scribe. Abe believes that the calligrapher’s signature may indicate the donor's appreciation of “literati values” (Ordinarp Images, 157).

130. The meaning of the term sixian, or “four eminences,His unclear. It could be interpreted as a reference to mountains of the four directions surrounding M t Tie. 131. Zhang Guangcun, “Tieshan kejing song,” 218. 132. My translation is based on the reading of Lai Fei, ZGSF, 12:267-268. Note that, among the Shandong inscriptions that bear the name of Seng’an Daoyi, the character i;i is sometimes written in the single-stroke form of the character “one” and, more often, in the complex form used today in business transactions and banknotes. , 133. The questions of Seng’an Daoyi’s origins and the correct interpretation of his name have generated much confusion. For discussion of these problems, see Liu Tao, ''Shandong jingnei beichao moya”; and Zhang Zong, “Beichao zhi Sui,” 70. See also Zhang Guangcun, “Shandong beichao moya kejing.” I am grateful to Mr. Zhang for giving me a manuscript of this important article. 134. The scope of the monk’s work may have extended beyond Mt. Hongding and Zou County. Based on stylistic analysis, many scholars argue that, in addition to the writing specifi­ cally identified as his (on Mt. Tie and at Mt. Hongding), Seng'an Daoyi also wrote the sutra tran­ scriptions on Mt. Jian, Mt. Tai, and Mt. Ge. Similarities of calligraphic style raise the possibility that the monk was active also at the Xiangtangshan cave chapels in Hebei. The most compelling evidence for this argument has been marshaled in Kiriya, “Bei Qi da shamen An Daoyi” ; and You, “Beichao liu shiji.” 135. The meaning of this couplet is uncertain, though it appears to refer to the marvelous quality of the carved sutra. 136. This phrase was first used by Yuan Ang (461-540) in his Gujin shuping (Evaluation of ancient and modern calligraphy) to describe the calligraphy of Xiao Sihua. Many passages from this short work of calligraphy criticism, which Yuan Ang presented to Emperor W u of the Liang Dynasty, reappear in Gujin shuren youlue ping (Evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of ancient and modern calligraphers), attributed to the emperor himself. See Huang Jian, Lidai shufa lunwen xuan, 75-77, 81. 1 am grateful to Xue Lei for his help with this material. Zhang Guangcun argues that the phrase about dragons and phoenixes refers not to the calligraphy of the sutra transcription but to the format of the stele which frames it. I believe this interpretation overlooks the parallels between these expressions and the language of calligraphy criticism. Zhang also cautions that the character in the Stone Eulogy that appears to read x i and is interpreted here as part of the name of Wang Xizhi might refer to someone else, since it was only during the Tang period that Wang’s status as the foremost calligrapher in Chinese history was established. He notes in particular that Wang's calligraphy was more valued in the south than in the north. See Zhang Guangcun, “Tieshan kejing song,” 232-233. This assertion fails to take into account that during much of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, what is today Shandong was part of the south, culturally and politically. The noted calligrapher and critic Yang Xin, a subject of the LiuSong dynasty who is said to have studied calligraphy with Wang Xianzhi (344-388), was a mem­ ber of the Yang family from the Mt. Tai area. Members of this same family participated in donating a stele placed on Mt. Shuiniu. See ZGSF 12:271. 137. Kieschnick, Im pact o f Buddhism, 56. 138. Sutras carved at Mt. Zhonghuang were said to have been based on texts from the sutra casket of the Bamboo Grove Temple brought to the site and transcribed on the polished cliffs and inside cave chapels. See Tsiang, KMonumentalization of Buddhist Texts,” 2401133, citing Ma Zhongli, “Yedu jinyi,” 176. 139. Wang Sili and Lai Fei, “Zhongguo beichao, ” 18. Note that these repetitions are pre­

served in the transcription by An Tingshan (Shandong moya, 44) but are “corrected” in the tran­ scription by Wang Jun and Ahtao in Sishan moya kejing, 2. 140. For other possible explanations of these repetitions, see You, “Beichao liu shiji,” 21. 141. Liu Tao, Zhongguo shufa shi, 470. 142. In addition to those on Mt. Tai, unfinished characters appear also on Mt. Ge and in the heading of a “virtual stele” at Mt. Hongding. See ZGSF 12: pis. 4 and 33 (19-9). 143. For an example of outlined characters in a stele title heading, see the M t. Sangong Stele of 181; ZGSF 8: pi. 126. For outlined characters in Dunhuang manuscripts, see Wo, “Dunhuang wenshu zhong de goutian zi.” 144. Yu Lihua, “Shisong chutan,” 322-323. 145. Characters in inscriptions such as the “Great Vacuity King Buddha” at Mt. Hongding were carved with strokes that followed the directions of normal stroke order. These traces of the chisel were not smoothed out, resulting in a textured effect that suggests streaks of ink left on a surface by the hairs of a writing brush. The forthcoming study by Lu and Lu addresses this visual effect. See n. 42 above. 146. Liu Tao, Zhongguo shufa shi, 469. 147. Kang Youwei, Guang yizhou shuangji, 854. 148. Hsu, “Six-Dynasties Xiejing Calligraphy.” 149. Lai Fei, "Seng'an kejing kaoshu,” 130. See also You, “Beichao liu shiji,M8-9, for a similar argument. 150. See ZGSF 12:264. 151. For an example of smoothed granite carved with finely detailed characters, some as high as fifty-six centimeters, see the Inscription/or the Record ofM t. Tai discussed in chapter 4. 152. Su, Su Shi wenji,5.2195. 153. For the story of Wei Dan inscribing a plaque high above the ground, see chapter 1. Large characters also were a part of Daoist mythology, if not actual practice. Scripture o f the M ap fo r the M ysterious Investigation o f the M ountain o f the M an-Bird, which probably dates from the Tang dynasty but may be based on earlier sources, describes characters one meter square carved by the Queen Mother of the West and the Celestial King of the Primordial Beginnings. See Lagerwey, Taoist Ritual, 163. In spite of this scriptural account, no Daoist inscriptions on this scale have come to light. See also Eugene Y. Wang, Shaping the Lotus Sutra, 294.

154. This point is made by Wei Guangping, "Beichao shike fojing,” 348. 155.The meaning of the phrase “path of the three steps” 三階之路 is uncertain. The Three Stages Sect 三階 was founded by the monk Xinxing (540-594) several years after the date of the Mt. Tie carving, and there is no reason to believe that the phrase in the Stone Eulogy refers to this sect of Buddhism. According to Professor Eugene Wang (personal communication), the phrase may allude to the story of Sakyamuni descending to earth on a “three-treasure stairway” 三道寶梯. See T4: 247a. It is also possible that the “path” supported by the double tortoises may be the “aisle” running up the slope and dividing the sutra transcription into two parts. 156. Zhang Guangcun notes that the character I read as liu ,“six, ” may actually be the characterjiao ,“connected,” in which case it is uncertain how many dragons were carved at the top of the sutra. Aikawa Masayuki argues that there were only two (“Tieshan D aji jing:’ 142). 157. An early stele with a tortoise base and ornamental cap, Stele o f W ang Sheren ,dated 183, was discovered in Pingdu County in 1982. See Lingan and Xiapo, “Shandong xin faxian de liang Han beishi,” Han bei yanjiu, 346-347. 1 am grateful to Mr. Lai Fei for calling this stele to my attention.

158. This synthesis is a central theme of Wong, Chinese Steles. See also comments by Hu, KZouxian beichao moya kejing diaocha yu yanjiu,” 255-256; and Kiriya, “Bei Qi da shamen An Daoyi,” 74. 159. A forthcoming study of the Longmen cave chapels by Professor Amy McNair will include extensive translations and annotations of the inscriptions in the cave. I am grateful to Professor McNair for allowing me to read chapters of her book manuscript. 160. See Ma Zhongli, "Yedu jinyi,” 165 and pi. 3. 161. For a succinct account of sutras carved on steles’ see Zhang Zong, “Shandong beiya kejing, ” 5-7. The text on a stele dated 564, which stood at Shifuo Temple in Juye County, formerly was identified as a passage from the Huayan Sutra, though the text is actually a spurious work composed in China in praise of holding maigre feasts (ibid., 13). Fragments of two steles bearing the same passage from the M anjusri Sutra have been discovered at Yanzhou in Shandong. See You, "Beichao liu shiji, ” 11. In addition to these steles from Shandong, others dated 571 and 573, from the Mujing Monastery in Shexian, Hebei, are now at the Mt. Zhonghuang Caves. See Tsiang, MMonumentalization of Buddhist Texts, ” 240. 162. In 1405 the Yongle emperor (r. 1403-1424) ordered that a colossal limestone stele be carved for the tomb of his father, Emperor Taizu (r. 1368-1398), the founder of the Ming dynasty. The base, shaft, and cap of the stele were roughed out at the Yangshan quarry near Nanjing, but the scale of the monument made it impossible to complete. Had the stele been finished and erected, it would have risen over ninety meters. See Yang Guanlin et al” Zhongguo mingsheng cidian, 304. 1 am grateful to Professor Susan Nelson for calling my attention to this failed monument. 163. Gregory Schopen has noted that “a considerable number of Buddhist inscriptions were never intended to be seen, let alone read” (Bones,Stones, and Buddhist M onks, 15115). Concern­ ing the merit derived from having sutras copied, Stephen F. Teiser has pointed out that “the multiplication of a text did not entail the obligation to read it. Literacy was required only of the copyist, not the commissioners” (Scripture o f the Ten Kings, 161). 164. Wang Sili and Lai Fei, (