Four Wooden Tablets in clerical script

Maker(s)
Colophon: Colophon by Zhang Heng (1914-1963)
Historical period(s)
Han dynasty, 42 BCE
Medium
Ink on wood
Dimensions
H x W (a.): 23.5 cm (9 1/4 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of John M. Crawford, Jr.
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1981.4a-e
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Calligraphy
Type

Four tablets

Keywords
China, Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), semi-cursive script, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Before the use of paper became widespread around the second century A.D., Chinese texts were written primarily on narrow tablets or strips of bamboo and wood. The strips were bound together at top and bottom with cords so they could be rolled for easy storage. Most wooden tablets from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.--A.D. 220) have been discovered in the arid northwestern regions of China. The largest single group, consisting mainly of official registers, legal documents, letters, and military dispatches, was unearthed in 1930 at Juyan in Gansu Province, north of the old Silk Road. These four tablets, each originally part of a separate document, probably come from Juyan.

Published References
  • Betty Ecke. Chinese Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Philadelphia, PA. .
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 2, p. 22-23.
  • Jao Tsung-I. On Some Wooden Tablets from Chu-yen. no. 1. pp. 93-96.
  • "居延漢簡(肆)." The Documents of The Han Dynasty on Wooden Slips from Edsen-Gol (IV). vol. IV, Taipei, Taiwan. p. 257-258.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage conditions apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.