Fu Ge Song (Ode to Fu Ge) 郙閣頌. The full name is Li Xi Xi Li Bridge Fu Ge Song 李翕析里橋郙閣頌. The stele is 171 cm in height, 126 cm in width, characters in 19 columns and each column holds 27 characters. The stele was made in 172 CE. It was erected in the west bank of Jialing River 嘉陵江, Lueyang County 略陽縣, Shannxi Province 陝西縣. The place was formerly called Xili (析里).
As the stele has been severely corroded, most of the characters are blurry and some characters have been missing.
Xili (析里) was a town located to the west of the Han River (漢水). The currents here were fast and the roads were always flooded especially during the autumn rainy seasons. Water surged and the turbulent waves blocked the roads. Xili (析里) was situated between two provinces Liangzhou (凉州) and Yizhou (益州). Travellers had to pass through Xili to go to the state capital (州府) to pay taxes or to do other businesses. Their trips are hazardous.
The road (or more precisely the passage way) called Fu Ge (郙閣) was the most hazardous. The roads were made up of old plank passage ways, as high as 300 metres above the river, carved along the steep cliffs. Bridges were supported by as many as 10,000 pillars. Some parts of the precipitous plank road were so narrow that carriages with their horses could hardly pass through. Travelers needed to get off the carriages and walk cautiously to avoid falling down to the water below. The roads were always congested with carriages as many as a few thousand. Accidents did happen, carriages together with the goods fell into the river causing the loss of lives and commodities. The situation was tragic and painful.
At that time, the prefect of Wudu County (武都郡太守), Li Xi (李翕) took office in 170 AD. He was dedicated to the welfare of the people and he looked after the poor and the needy. He ordered Chou Shen(仇審) to upgrade the hazardous roads to make them safe and stable. He also built the Xili (析里) Bridge which was a meticulous project involving precise craftsmanship. Prefect Li Xi also ordered to abandon the old, dangerous, plank road with thick canopy that passed through the Sanguan (散關) and to open up a new road which was dry, flat, paved and without covered with thick canopy.
Before Prefect Li arrived as the administrator, life was hard because the land was hilly, barren and not fertile. Moreover, the town was often invaded by foreigners and people lost their properties. People have been displaced and many people lived in poverty. Prefect Li Xi looked after the welfare of the people. Under his good and effective administration, the standard of living of the citizen has greatly been improved. The treasury of the country was full, and the people rejoiced and enjoyed peace and prosperity.
Scholars added characters to the gaps. The characters in orange are the suggested missing characters.
The following is from Feng Yunpeng & Feng Yunxuan’s Jin Shi Suo 馮雲鵬(晏海)、馮雲鹓(集軒) 金石索
The ‘Ode to Shimen’石門頌, ‘Ode to Xi Xia’西狹頌 and ‘Ode to Fu Ge’郙閣頌 are known as the ‘Three Odes’ of Han Dynasty calligraphy. Both Ode to Xi Xia and ‘Ode to Fu Ge’ praised the administration and construction of roads and bridge of Prefect Li Xi. The original stone inscriptions of Fu Ge Song has been badly eroded and many characters were lost. The characters are quaint (古樸) and the style is plain (簡樸) and unrefined (粗糙). At the first glance, people may not like the style, but over time, people would appreciate its uniqueness and aesthetic values.
The following is my copy of the Fu Ge Song. Some missing characters have also been added to the best of my knowledge. Each of those characters in small red regular scripts are enclosed by a square □ . Those substitute characters may be far from perfect, but I will keep trying to improve and update those missing characters.
The following is a glossary of the characters according to their radicals (部首)
I would like to thank Mr Jerry Li for his invaluable advice and his kind support and encouragement.
黃公渚 (1966) 兩漢金石文選評注 香港太平書局
俞丰 (2009) 經典碑帖釋文譯注, 上海書畫出版社 , ISBN 978-7-80725-846-9
Ouyang Z S, W C Fong, Y F Wang (2008) Chinese Calligraphy, Yale University, ISBN 978-0-300-12107-0