Stele of the Xuanmi Pagoda


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In 841, a stupa was constructed at the Anguo Monastery, in the Tang dynasty capital of Chang’an, to preserve the ashes of the great Buddhist monk Duan Fu (d. 807). A massive stone stele was erected on site to commemorate the creation of the stupa and to celebrate Duan’s accomplishments. The prominent official and calligrapher Liu Gongquan inscribed the text. Liu’s strongly angular, stately characters are well-suited to the sacred task of commemoration. The stele is considered a key example of the aesthetic superiority of Tang calligraphy, and it is still widely copied by calligraphy students today.

Stele of the Xuanmi Pagoda, Twentieth-century rubbing of a stele carved in 841; ink on paper, China

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