The Xiping Stone Classics


These engravings of the seven Confucian classics were set up outside the National University Gate, located on the south side of Loyang, the capital city, in the Eastern Han dynasty. They were created between 175 and 183, after Cai Yong and a group of scholars successfully petitioned the emperor to have the Confucian classics carved in stone in order to prevent their being altered to support particular points of view. They are also called the “Han Stone Classics” and the “Single-Script Stone Classics." The seven classics -- The Book of Changes, The Book of Documents, The Book of Poetry, The Rites, The Spring and Autumn Annals, The Gongyang Tradition, and The Analects – were copied and engraved in the standard clerical script of the Han period. Each classic is based on the text of one school of transmission and commentary, and notes list the differences in the texts of the schools. These are the first books in Chinese history that are engraved on stone and have significance as "editions." They are from the collections of the National Library of China, which has more than 230,000 rubbings from different materials (tortoise shells, bronze, stones) that are of great value to researchers on Chinese history, geography, politics, economics, military science, folklore, literature, art, science and technology, architecture, and other subjects.

Last updated: January 3, 2018