Chapter VI The robust clerical script
Section I   An Overview of Clerical Script
Clerical script (隶书in Chinese, reads as “lì shū”, also known as “official script”) came into being in the Qin Dynasty when a prisoner Cheng Miao (程邈, chéng Miǎo, dates of birth and death not available) tried to simplify Xiao Zhuan and worked out 3,000 clearical script characters in ten years time and these new type of characters pleased the emperor as they were easier to write, hence, Cheng was padroned. It became a most popular way of writing in the Western Han period, with the widely spread practice of stele inscriptions, clerical script reached its artistic zenith in the Eastern Han period. Early clerical script was not too far away from Xiao Zhuan. It was stereotyped in the Eastern Han period when its body began to be flatened and horizontal strokes became cursive.
There have been quite a number of outstanding stele inscriptions in clerical script that have been imitated for generations, the following are most representative:


《Cao Quan Stele》(曹全碑,Cáo Quán Stele)of the comeliness type.It was erected in 185 to honor Cao Quan,Magistrate of Hexian County, who faught against farmers’ uprsing. It is 273 cm high, 95 cm wide. It has 20 lines, in each line there are 45 characters.It is now housed in Xian Stele Forest.



《Heng Fang Stele》(衡方碑,Hēng Fáng Stele) of the orderly type, (part of it as the picture on the right) rected in 168 to mark the achievement of Commander Heng Fang. It has20 lines with 36 characters in each line.It is now being kept at Taian Daimiao Temple.







 《Ritual Utensil Stele》(礼器碑, Lǐ Qì Stele) of the robust type, carved in 156 to record how the Prime Minister of Lu, Han Chiexempted Confucius’ family from laboring for the government and how he had ritual utensils made for the temple of Confucius. It is 227.2 cm in height and 102.4 cm in width. It has 16 lines with 36 characters in each line on the front, there are also inscriptions at the back. It has been regarded as the classic of all Han stele inscriptions and of very high artistic value. It is being kept at Qufu Confucius Temple.



《Zhang Qian Stele 张迁碑,Zhāng Qián Stele》of the dignified type,erected in 186 to praise Zhang Qian’s deeds as an envoy to countries to the immediate west of China. It has 16 lines with 42 characters in each line. It is now being kept at Taian Daimiao Temple.



 《Stone Gate Eulogy》(石门颂,Shí Mén Sòng)of unrestrained type, Carved in 148 on cliffside to praise Yang Mengwen who built a passage on the Mountain in Shanxi Province. It is 261 cm long and 205 cm wide with 20 lines, each line has 30 or 31 characters. It is now  being kept at Hanzhong Museum. 

Section II Structure and Composition of Li Shu
The most striking change is that cursive horizontal strokes appeared, the start of a horizontal stroke looks like a head of a silkworm, and the finish like a tail of a wildgoose.While the whole structure of a character is somewhat flatened,radicals and the main part in Li Shu can be obviously distinguished.
The composition of an entire piece of Li Shu involves three parts, the text, the inscription and seals of the calligrapher or sender, which can be arranged as the following:
(1) rows are close to each other while characters are kept apart; (2) both rows and columns are densely placed; (3) characters are close to each other while rows are kept apart; (4) no fixed space between rows or columns.
Proper space must be left for inscription and seals. The drafting of the inscription, the kind of script to be used, its size and location, and types of seal have to be considered carefully.
Li Shu has been regarded as a modern script and a turning point in the long evolution of Chinese characters, it was evolved from Xiao Zhuan and led the characters into the regular script. It should be noted that Li Shu is still being used today quite extensively, because of its variable strokes, orderly structure, dignified and artistic appearance.
Extensive reading (4)
Confucius Temple—a Museum of Li Shu Stele
Confucius Temple in Qufu of Shangdong, together with Confucius Residence and Confucius Forest, is listed as a World Cultural Heritage by UNISCO. In 478 BC, Duke Ai of the State of Lu turned Confucius former residence into a temple, a venue to hold sacrificial ceremonies. In the Han Dynasty, sacrifice for Confucius was a state affair. The temple had been gradually enlarged to its present scale, which is 1.300 meters long and 150 meters wide on a land of 327.5 mu. There had been 12 emperors who made 19 trips to pay tribute to Confucius. On Setemper 28, 1999, a grand memorial ceremony was held in the temple to mark the 2,550th birth day of Confucius.
Over 1,000 steles are being kept in the Confucius Temple, 《Bei Bi Stone Carving》,《Wufeng Stone Carving》, 《Yiying Stele》,《Ritual Utensils Stele》and 《Kongzhou Stele》are amont them. The temple has collected 6 Western Han steles, 18 Eastern Han steles and 4 Northern Dynasty (386-581) steles. So, the temple has been reputed as a museum of Han Dynasty Li Shu.


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