The Zhaoling Museum
The Zhaoling Museum is built on the site of the tomb of Li Ji, a minister to three emperors in the Tang Dynasty. Li Ji was named Xu Shiji originally, aliased Maogong. He took part in the Wagang Peasant Insurrection Army at the age of 17. Later he capitulated to Li Yuan, assisting Emperor Li Shimin, and Li Zhi, in governing the country. He was appreciated by Tai Zong for the great feats he had performed in numerous battles. On the occasion that he was ill, Tang Taizong even served him personally. After Li Ji's death, Tang Gaozong had Li Ji's tomb built into three gO-metre-high hillocks representing mountains of Yinshan, Tieshan and Wudejian, the bottoms of which were joined together. And the three peaks form the shape of an inverted Chinese charac-ter "~"(pin), which is in praise of his achievements in defeating Tujue ( a nomadic tribe then). There is a 5. 6-metre-high stone tablet in front of the tomb,with a 1. g-metre-long large stone tor-toise as its base and six dragons carved on the top. The article on the tablet was composed by Li Zhi (Gao Zong) himself. When Wu Zetian came into power, Xu Jinye, the grandson of Li Ji, raised a rebelion. Not only was Li Ji deprived of his aristocratic title, but al-so his tomb was uncovered and his coffin was cut into pieces. After Wu Zetian had died, Tang Zhongzong recovered Li Ji's title and re-built his tomb. Now here is the tomb rebuilt after Li Ji had been re-habilitated,with a couple of stone figures on the facade, three cou-ples of stone sheep on the left and stone tigers on the right. Besides Li Ji's tomb, there are also two exhibition rooms for stone tablets and exhibition halls for antiques, carvings and paint-steles have great value in the art of calligraphy;therefore this muse-um is also called "The Stone Tablets of Zhaoling Mausoleum". It was fashionable to install steles before tombs in the Tang Dynasty. It was unique to the rank and the great number of the satellite tombs of Zhaoling, leaving a large scale of first-class tablet inscriptions. Tang Taizong and Tang Gaozong were fond of callig-raphy. On the initiative of the two emperors, the calligraphic art was becoming better and approaching perfection day by day. Every inscription here is the superb work of the calligraphy. For most of the steles were inscribed originally and they were not later carved or imitated. The way of inscribing the tablet at that time is:grinding the stone flat first, then writing the article in red on the flat stone. This is called "Shu Dan". (Now the way of inscribing is writing the article on the paper and sketching it by the stonemason on the stone. ). So the strokes are very clear without losing shape at all. The Inscriptions of Zhaoling have had much renown ever since be-fore, just for its assemblance of the cream of the calligraphy in the early Tang Dynasty, the Stone Tablets of Zhaoling are first class in China.From the work of the epigrapher in the Song Dynasty, there had been over 80 tablets around Zhaoling. Also somebody had sold the books of rubbings in a set named "The Rubbings of Zhaoling". But it was pity that the books did not get careful protection in old China, so there were only 22 types left until 1949. In the recent 40 years, with the efforts of the archaeologists and the general survey of the antiques, mord than 20 steles have been found gradually and over 20 epitaphs unearthed, forming the present scale of the Stone Tablets of Zhaoling.

Exhibition Room I
Over 20 tablets on display here are the better part of the well-known Stone Tablets of Zhaoling. Tl~ese are all the steles of the fa-mous people's tombs with large shapes, and delicate engravings, written by the famous calligraphers in the early Tang Dynasty. The regular script was fashionable at that time. The most famous callig-raphers such as Ou Yangxun, Chu Suiliang, Yu Shinan and Xue Ji were called "the Four Masters in the Early Tang Dynasty". Here we can appreciate the standard work of their manuscripts. For in-stance,the article for Fang Xuanling was written by Chu Suiliang, with elegant and plump strokes. And the article for Wen Yanbo was written by Ou Yangxun with vigorous strokes and characters in best frame, which is also the last manuscript Ou Yangxun left for world.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   




The blemish of this great work is that all the tablets in this room were damaged more or less. These treasures of art suffered the severe damage in the twenties of this century. The wars broke out among the warlords and nobody cared about the steles at all. Some illegal booksellers, concluding with the local officials, sold the rubbings of these steles with the price as high as 2,000 taels of sil-ver. In order to get more profit from it, they even destroyed the key words after rubbing, such as the time, the names of the persons and the places, which made it impossible to rub the complete arti-cles any more. The criminals later followed suit so that some of the steles were broken into pieces.
Exhibition Room l
These tablets and epitaphs on display were newly discovered or reunearthed in the recent 40 years. On this room there are 40 tablets and 20 epitaphs, which are not only valuable texual materials for the study of the Chinese'calligraphy, but also rare written data for the further research of the Tang Period. Because these inscrip-tions not only offered detailed records about the ranks, positions, important contributions of the buried and the years of their out-standing services, but also eulogized their virtues and achievements. These records were closely related to the significant events at that time,such as political, economic and military affairs. In order to help know about the intactness of the stone carvings system before the satellite tombs in Zhaoling, the Museum inte~t-tionally retains the original state and locations of Li Ji's tomb-stone and the stone carvings around it. Li Ji's tomb-stone was written by Emperor Gao Zong personally. He appreciated Wang Xizhi's callig-raphy very much, and his style was deeply affected by his elegant, free and easy style. The tomb-stone, 5.56 metres in height, and 15 tons in weight (not including the tortoise seat), stands erect in the centre of the museum.
Exhibition Room for Unearthed Relics and Paintings In recent scores of years, dozens of satellite tombs have been excavated one after another around Zhaoling Tomb. Although some 0f them were robbed in early years, a large number of relics were still unearthed in them, including murals, tomb guardians, gold and silver wares, bronze mirrors, pottery figures and so on. San Liang Jin De Royal Crown was the only Tang crown discovered so far. Both this and a sword were unearthed from Li Ji's tomb. It is said that this was reburied after Emperor Tang Zhongzong re-dressed and rehabilitated him.
Among the unearthed relics, pottery figures are the largest in quantity. These were the earliest of Tang figures, which have life-like images, various shapes and postures, bright and sprightly coloured. And the manufacturing of these painted and glazed pottery figures were very special. In the process of making them, the first step was to make the molds out of porcelain clay. After the molds were fired into the desired shapes, and painted with lead glaze, they were fired again until they turned into glazed figures. The glazed pottery figures unearthed in Zhaoling are in beautiful shapes and various postures, looking happy and gay. The different kinds of hair styles, dresses and adornments reflect the material civilization and the rich and colourful cultural life at that time. For instance, the standing pottery male figures wearing long gowns with turn-down collars, the standing pottery lady figures wearing robes with turn-down collars and the lady figures on horse-backs, wearing bol-wer hats, ect. Besides, there are pottery figures of various chara-teristics, heavy beards, big noses, sunken eyes, wearing bowler hats and garments unbuttoned. Obviously this is the image of the minorities in the western frontier..But the camels carrying water calabashes, pheasants and hares depict the scene of merchants trudging over a long distance on the Silk Road. The painted and glazed pottery figures were fashionable only in the early Tang, and were the peculiar products of this period as well. They offered valu-able factual materials for the study of the culture and art of this pe-riod.