Art/ Collection/ Art Object

東周 篆書石鼓文 舊拓本
Inscriptions on the Stone Drums (Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th century B.C.)

Unidentified Artist
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
17th century
Set of rubbings in ten sections mounted as a pair of handscrolls; ink on paper
Image (scroll a): 16 1/2 × 257 1/4 in. (41.9 × 653.4 cm) Image (scroll b): 16 3/4 × 265 5/8 in. (42.5 × 674.7 cm) Overall with mounting (each) H. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wan-go H. C. Weng, 1992
Accession Number:
1992.166.1a, b
Not on view
Written Chinese evolved slowly over more than two millennia before arriving at a modern, "regular" script (kai shu) in the third century A.D. The oldest script type, known as "seal" script (zhuan shu), developed gradually during the Shang, Zhou, and Qin periods (ca. 1500–206 B.C.) and is characterized by curvilinear picturelike forms executed in strokes of even thickness.

Inscriptions on the Ten Stone Drums, which record royal hunting expeditions, were probably engraved by one of the early dukes of the Qin state and constitute the earliest monumental seal-script texts of any length to survive. The script represents a transitional style between the "large-seal" script found on Shang and Zhou bronze vessels and the standardized "small-seal" script employed in official documents of the Qin dynasty (221–206 B.C.). The drums, discovered near Baoji in Shaanxi Province in the seventh century A.D., were moved to the imperial palace in Kaifeng by Emperor Huizong (r. 1101–25). When Jurched Jin troops captured the Song capital in 1127, the drums were moved again to Beijing, where they are now in the Palace Museum.

The tradition of making ink rubbings of stone- and wood-carved inscriptions was a precursor to printing in China and made possible the wide dissemination of calligraphic models.
Marking: Scroll .1a : two seals of Weng Fanggang (1733–1818), one seal of Ruan Yuan (1764–1849), two seals of Weng Tonghe (1830–1904); one seal of Weng Wan-go (1918– ).
Scroll .1b: two seals of Weng Tonghe and one seal of Weng Wan-go.
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