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Forest of Steles 碑林

Forest of Steles
Tablet of Filial Piety

This stone engraving dates to 745 AD during the Tang Dynasty. The seventh Tang Emperor Xuanzong 唐玄宗 (Tang Xuán​zōng​, 685 - 762), whose personal name was Li Longji 李隆基 (Lǐ​ Lōng​ Jī​), wrote an introduction to the Classic of Filial Piety, Xiao Jing 孝经 (Xiào​ Jīng​). He wanted to show that he was going to be a responsible ruler who followed the principles of Confucius and would pay attention to the welfare of the people.

The stele shows parts of the original Classic of Filial Piety written in the calligraphy of Emperor Xuanzong. His notes on interpretation are included in smaller characters to the side. Emperor Xuanzong ruled from 712 to 756 and then retired in favor of his son, the Tang Emperor Suzong. That sounds peaceful, but while the country flourished under Xuanzong's early reign, it ended in the An Shi Rebellion. The Emperor fled the rebels and when his son was acclaimed emperor, Emperor Xuanzong confirmed it. Later, after the rebellion had been suppressed and Chang'an retaken, Suzong offered the throne back to his father. Xuanzong refused it repeatedly, fearing for his life.

The stele is the largest in the Forest of Steles. It is comprised of three stones and is installed on a large stone pediment. It is decorated with winding tendrils of vine, lions, and mythical and real animals.

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Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010