Xi'an's Stele Forest (Bei Lin) Museum is located at 15 Sanxue (Three School) Street, near the south gate of the City Wall. Established in 1090 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), the Stele Forest Museum in Xi'an is well-known nationally for a fine and large collection of more than 1, 000 inscribed stones, engraved during a 2,000 year period from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) to the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). It is a good place to get close to Chinese history and culture.
The museum, covering an area of 31,000 square meters is divided into seven major exhibition halls, which mainly display ancient works of calligraphy, historical records and stone carvings.
Exhibition Hall One mainly displays the text of twelve Confucian classics carved on 14 steles. The twelve works include the Analects of Confucius, the Books of Changes, the Books of Songs and some others. These twelve classics are must-do readings for intellectuals of China's feudal society. The stones were engraved over 2,000 years ago when printing was not yet invented. In order to preserve these works well and pass them down to later generations, the rulers ordered them to be carved on these stones.
Hall Two exhibits calligraphy steles written by the prominent calligraphers of China's ancient Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). The Tang Dynasty witnessed a flowering of creativity in many fields. Chinese classic calligraphy reached its golden age during this time. Visitors will find works of Ouyang Xun, Yan Zhenqing, Zhang Xu and many other noted ancient calligraphers in this hall.
Hall Three also exhibits works of calligraphy. These steles were inscribed with five varieties of calligraphy, seal characters, official script, regular script, running hand and cursive hand.
From these steles, visitors can have a clear idea of the development of Chinese writing. Chinese calligraphy forms an important part in China's magnificent culture, so these stone tablets are of great importance to explore China's long and magical ancient culture.
Hall Four contains various stone sculptures. 200 works from the Han Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty are displayed, including portraits of Confucius, Buddhist scriptures from the Tang Dynasty and much more.
Hall Five, Hall Six and Hall Seven are also well worth a visit. Hall Five displays steles engraved with historical records from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) to the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial age. Many famous and significant poems are displayed in Hall Six and Hall Seven.