The Xi’an Beilin Museum, also know as the “Stele Forest,” boasts an impressive collection of over 1,000 stone stelae, many dating to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). The tablets were often erected at tombs and intricately carved to illustrate the person’s accomplishments and family connections. The collection is housed in a former Confucius Temple and the gift shop features ink rubbings of the stones, a process on display in one of the galleries. (Fake rubbings are also sold on the street in front of the museum.) The museum was deemed a Major Historical Site by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in 1961, saving the priceless artifacts from the destruction of the Cultural Revolution which reduced many of the country’s stelae to dust.
The museum also has a wonderful assortment of Buddhist statues, many of which were unwittingly discovered during the construction of local buildings including schools, military bases and even the airport. Can you imagine tripping on a priceless ancient Buddha head in your backyard?
Xi'an Beilin Museum Address: 15 Sanxue Jie, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China Entrance Fee: 45RMB