The Mount Yi Stele in seal script and colophon in standard script

Artist: Li Si (died 208 B.C.E.) Zheng Wenbao (953-1013) Xu Xuan 徐炫 (916-991)
Historical period(s)
Northern Song dynasty, inscription: 993; rubbing: 20th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 150.6 x 70.9 cm (59 5/16 x 27 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Peking University
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Calligraphy, Rubbing

Rubbing (mounted on panel)

China, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), seal script, standard script

To ?
Peking University, Beijing, China. [1]

From 1976
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Peking University, Beijing, China. [2]


[1] According to the Curatorial Remark 4 in the object record, this rubbing was donated by Peking University, Beijing, China at an undetermined date.

[2] According to Kate Theimer’s note from June 6, 1995, “This rubbing appears to have been given by the Peking University to the Freer Gallery of Art at an undetermined date prior to 1976. It was transferred from the Library to the permanent collection in 1976.” Also see object file, and the Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Peking University


This modern rubbing was made from a stone stele carved in 993 during the Song dynasty. Its text was based on a rubbing taken from a stele erected in 219 BCE during the Qin dynasty, and the calligraphy in small-seal script was attributed to the famous statesman and calligrapher Li Si, who died in 208. The original stele, which no longer exists, was erected on Mount Yi in Shandong province during the First Emperor’s tour of the east in 219 BCE. According to the postscript written by Chen Wenbao in 993, his teacher Xu Xuan (916–991) made a rubbing of the stele in Chang’an (modern Xi’an, Shaanxi province), and Chen used that copy to recarve the stele’s inscription. (Today the recarved stele is housed in the Stele Forest Museum in Xi’an.) This rubbing was taken from the back of the stele. The front, showing the first part of the text, is seen at left. Although Xu Xuan’s copy does not reproduce the original small-seal script, his reinterpretation has played an influential role throughout the last millennium, as seen in the hanging scroll to the right that was created by a calligrapher and seal-carving master in the late eighteenth century.

Published References
  • Shodo Zenshu. 27 vols., Tokyo. vol. 1: figs. 82-3.
  • Chi-ku ch'iu-chen. .
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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