Whole sheet ink-rubbing of Yi Ying Bei. The size of the original stele is 260 cm x 129 cm. It contains 18 columns of characters, with 40 characters in each column. Some columns have fewer characters. This ink- rubbing shows a lot of omissions (i.e. the white areas). As time goes by, the original stele has severely eroded or has been damaged significantly. This rub-rubbing was made at a later stage, i.e. more recently.

 

Ink-rubbings of Yi Ying Bei cut and arranged into a book (or an album) according to the sequence of the text.  This makes it easier to read and to copy. These are the first 30 characters of the stele. Of some characters,  parts of them have been omitted due to damage. This is believed to be one of the best ink-rubbings of Yi Ying bei throughout history as the characters are clear and there are less damaged areas compared with other ink-rubbings. The owners stamped their seals in the spaces to show their ownership of this rubbing.  This ink-rubbing was made much earlier in history than the previous whole sheet rubbing.

 

Yi Ying Bei (乙瑛碑) is a stone tablet or stele created in 153 CE during the Eastern Han, Dynasty. It recorded how Yi Ying, the top official (equivalent to the Prime Minister) of the Lu (魯) state proposed installing an official in charge of the Confucius Temple (孔子廟) at Qufu (曲阜), Shandong (山東) province, the birthplace of Confucius (孔子).

The official looked after the Confucius Temple and took care for the vessels for sacrificial ceremonies.

Vessels for sacrificial ceremonies. They were used to hold meat, wine, flowers, candles, joss sticks, incense, etc. (Photo credits: Teacher Exemplar for a Myriad Generations, National Palace Museum)

The text also mentioned about asking the Emperor for fund to run the Confucius Temple. Livestock such as ox, goat, pig, dog, chicken were used for the sacrificial ceremonies. Rice and wine were also offered.

The characters on the stone tablet are square ands neat. This stele has been regarded as the best specimen of the clerical script (隷書). The work displays a proper combination of ‘bone’ (骨) and ‘flesh’ (肉) as well as a strict adherence to norms.

 

A copy of Yi Ying bei (乙瑛碑)

 

 

 

Text of Yi Ying Bei

司徒臣雄、司空臣戒, 稽首言: 魯前相瑛書言, 詔書崇聖道, 勉(學)藝。孔子作《春秋》。制《孝經》。(删述)《五經》。演《易.(繫)辭》, 經緯天地, 幽讚神明, 故特立廟。褒成侯四時來祠, 事已即去。廟有禮器, 無常人掌領, 請置百石(卒)史一人, 典主守廟。春秋饗禮, 財出王家錢, 給犬酒直。須報, 謹問。太常祠曹掾馮牟、史郭玄。辭對: 故(事, 辟雍)禮未行, 祠先聖師, 侍祠者, 孔子子孫、大宰、太祝令各一人, 皆備爵。太常丞監祠, 河南尹給牛、羊、彖、(雞)、(?)(?)各一, 大司農給米, 祠。臣愚以為如瑛言, 孔子大聖,則象乾坤, 為漢制作, 先世所尊, 祠用眾牲, 長(吏)備(爵。今)欲加寵子孫, 敬恭明祀, 傳于罔極。可許臣請, 魯相為孔子廟置百石卒史一人, 掌領禮器。出(王家钱, 给犬)酒直, 他如故事。臣雄、臣戒愚戇, 誠惶誠恐! 頓首頓首!死罪死罪! 臣稽首以聞。制曰:可。

元嘉三年三月廿七日壬寅奏雒陽宮。

司徒公河南(原武吴雄), 字季高。司空公蜀郡成都(赵戒), 字意伯。

元嘉三年三月丙子朔廿七日壬寅, 司徒雄、司空戒, 下魯相, 承書從事下當用者, (選年)卌以(上) , 經通一藝, 雜試, 通利, 能奉弘先聖之禮, 為宗所歸者。如詔書。

書到, 言: 永興元年六月甲辰朔十八日辛酉, 魯相平, 行長史事, 卞守長擅, 叩頭死罪, 敢言之司徒、司空府: 壬寅詔書, 為孔子廟置百石卒史一人, 掌主禮器, 選年卌以上, 經通一藝, 雜試, 能奉弘先聖之禮, 為宗所歸者。平叩頭叩頭, 死罪死罪, 謹案文書, 守文學掾魯孔龢、師孔憲、戶曹史(孔覽)等, 雜試。龢脩《春秋嚴氏經》, 通, 高第, 事親至孝, 能奉先聖之禮, 為宗所歸, 除龢補名狀如牒。平惶恐叩頭! 死罪死罪! 上司空府。

賛曰: 巍巍大聖。赫赫彌章。

相乙瑛, 字少卿。平原高唐人。令鮑疊, 字文公, 上黨屯留人。政教稽古, 若重規矩。乙君察舉守宅, 除吏孔子十九世孫麟廉, 請置百石卒史一人, 鮑君造作百石吏舍。功垂無窮, 於是始(?)。

 

Bibliography:

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

Wu, Sung-feng (2017) Teacher Exemplar for a Myriad Generations, Confucius in Painting, Calligraphy, and Prints through the ages, 萬世師表- 書畫中的孔子, National Palace Museum, ISBN 9789575627904

 

This page is dedicated to Rita, Jason and students of mine who have been working hard on Calligraphy.