The Forest of Steles Museum (also called the Stele Forest or Beilin Museum) is a themed museum displaying Chinese stone steles, epigraphs and stone sculptures from past dynasties. Originally built in 1087, the Forest of Steles is China’s national treasure housing a large collection of the stone tablets throughout the history. The amount of exhibits is over 3,000 pieces which range from the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). As the huge collection looks like a thick forest, it is named as Forest of Steles.
Compared with other museums, one of the outstanding characteristics of Forest of Steles Museum is the large collection of inscribed tablets. Tablet inscriptions tell about the religions, life styles and historical facts of ancient times in a vivid way. They provide tourists with a grasp of the general outline of Chinese history and the interaction of China and other countries. For the fans of Chinese calligraphy, these inscriptions are of great interest as they are fine examples of the diverse styles of Chinese characters.
Classic of Filial Piety room is the most precious collection in the museum. The major exhibits in this room are the Kaicheng Classics, carved in 837 AD during the Tang Dynasty. This is a group of stone tablets inscribed 12 books. Ancient Chinese people carved such books in stone to prevent copying errors and thereby provided models by which students could check the accuracy of reproduced texts. The Kaicheng Classics are the best preserved set of classics on stones in China.