Inscription of a Eulogy on the Burial of a Crane


Yi he ming (Inscription of a eulogy on the burial of a crane) is a very famous carved rock inscription of great significance in the history of Chinese calligraphy. It is a eulogy mourning the death of a family crane. The inscription is considered the progenitor of large-character calligraphy of the Southern Dynasties (420‒589). The original rock carving, situated on the west crag of Jiaoshan Mountain, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, was carved in the 13th year (514) of the Tianjian reign of Liang of the Southern Dynasties. Later it fell into the river and was not rediscovered until the Northern Song (960‒1127). The great scholar Ouyang Xiu (1007‒72) recorded this work in his Ji gu lu (Collected inscriptions of the past); thus it became well known and was reproduced numerous times in rubbings. In the 52nd year (1713) of Qing emperor Kangxi, Chen Pengnian (1663‒1723) of Changsha, prefect of Zhenjiang, enlisted laborers and pulled five pieces of stone out of the river. They were then moved and some were built into the walls of the Dinghui Temple on Jiaoshan Mountain. The year 1713 thus became the demarcation point of dating the rubbings, the earlier ones before the rock fell into the river and the later ones after its recovery. The earlier group is extremely rare because it was difficult to make rubbings of the inscription. The remaining stone pieces are now placed in Baomoxuan (Baomo Pavilion), also called Jiaoshan bei lin (Stele Forest of Jiaoshan), where Yi he ming is the most famous stone inscription. This rubbing dates from the late Ming dynasty. It is considered a rubbing of the earlier group. The two characters sui and wu are in perfect shape, and the last stroke of the character xiang reaches into the stone flower. The inscription on the rubbing reads: “Text written by Huayang Zhenyi, calligraphy by Shanghuang Shanjiao.” Scholars of later centuries have disputed the identities of the author and the calligrapher.

Last updated: July 27, 2016