Ink rubbing of Ode to Shimen (石門頌), length:  261 cm, width 205 cm

Ode to Shimen (石門頌) was created during the Eastern Han dynasty in 148 AD in memory of the government official YANG Meng-wen (楊孟文) who was credited with the repairing and re-opening of the once blocked major pathway of Baoyedao (褒斜道) to the western part of the country.

Before the reopening of major pathway, travellers had to take other narrower and dangerous pathways through the deep valleys full of perilous steep boulders, wild beasts, venom snakes and thick vegetation. Many wagons loaded with goods fell off from these hazardous pathways and even empty wagons had difficulties in passing through.

Yang, against his opponents in the government, appealed to the Emperor to repair Baoyedao pathway. The Emperor agreed and commanded Yang to be in charge of the project. The broken bridges at Shimen (石門) were repaired. The pathway was widened.  People rejoiced and praised Yang for his contribution.

A copy of the whole text

故司隸校尉楗爲楊君頌

()靈定位,川澤股躬。澤有所注,川有所通。余(斜)谷之川,其澤南隆。八方所達,益域為充。

高祖受命,興於漢中。道由子午,出散入秦。建定帝位,以漢詆焉。後以子午,途路歮(涩)難,更隨圍谷,復通堂光。凡此四道,垓(閡)鬲(隔)尤艱。至於永平,其有四年,詔書開余(斜),鑿通石門。中遭元二,西夷虐殘。橋梁斷絕,子午復循。上則縣(懸)峻,屈曲流顛(巔)。下則入冥,廎(傾)寫輸淵。平阿湶泥,常蔭鮮晏。木石相距,利磨确磐。臨危槍碭,履尾心寒。空輿輕騎,遰㝵(碍)弗前。惡蟲囗(憋)狩(獸),虵(蛇)蛭毒囗(蟃)。未秋截霜,稼苗夭殘。終年不登,匱餒之患。卑者楚惡,尊者弗安。愁苦之難,焉可具言。

於是明知(智故司隸校尉楗為武陽楊君,厥字孟文,深執忠伉,數上奏請。有司議駮(駁),君遂執爭。百遼(僚)咸從,帝用是聽。廢子由斯,得其度經。功飭爾要,敞而晏平。清涼調和,烝烝艾寧。

至建和二年,仲冬上旬,漢中大守楗為武陽王升,字稚紀,涉歷山道,推序本原。嘉君明知(智),美其仁賢。勒石頌德,以明厥勳。

其辭曰: 君德明明,炳煥彌光。刺過拾遺,厲清八荒。奉魁承杓,綏億衙(御)彊(强)。春宣聖恩,秋貶若霜。無偏蕩蕩,貞雅以方。寧靜烝庶,政與乾通。輔主匡君,循禮有常。咸曉地理,知世紀綱。言必忠義,匪石厥章。囗(恢)弘大節,讜而益明。揆往卓今,謀合朝情。醳艱即安,有勳有榮。禹鑿龍門,君其繼縱。上順斗極,下答()皇。自南自北,四海攸通。君子安樂,庶士悅㢕。商人咸憘,農夫永同。春秋記異,今而紀功。垂流億載,世世嘆誦。

序曰: 明哉仁知(智),豫識難易。原度天道,安危所歸。勤勤竭誠,榮名休麗。

五官掾南鄭趙邵字季南,属(屬)褒中囗(晃)漢彊字產伯,書佐西成王戒字文寶,主。

王府君閔谷道危難,分置六部道橋。特遣行丞事西成韓朖(朗)字顯公,都督掾南鄭魏整字伯玉。後遣趙誦字公梁,案(按)察中曹卓行,造作石囗(積),萬世之基,或解高格,下就平易,行者欣然焉。

伯玉即日徒署,行丞事,守安陽長。

 

Appreciation of the characters

The brush work of the characters is both spontaneous and respectful of the conventional calligraphic rules. Variation in the density of strokes and their positioning also adds interest to the unique appearance of this engraving. The average width of the characters is about 8 cm. The length of the characters varies from about 2 cm to 10 cm or even more.

The characters were carved on the surface of a rugged cliff which was not flat.
a few characters carved on the cliff surface
The ink rubbing of the above characters

The last stroke of the character 命 on the ink rubbing is exceptionally long.

The character was carved near a crevice or fissure on the rock. No more characters could be carved below it. Therefore, the elongation of the last stroke might be due to erosion of the rock.

There was space for characters under the character in the second column, but there was none because the characters 高祖 Gaozu (the Emperor) had to be raised to the top of the next column to show respect.

Bibliography:

https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%9F%B3%E9%97%A8%E9%A2%82

https://kknews.cc/culture/92xvv5.html