Fine Arts Library

Asian Rubbings


Sheng yin si shi liu zun zhe xiang di shi. The rubbing of the figure is a seated lohan (Buddhist saint) with manuscript.

The Fine Arts Library currently houses 2,602 individual East Asian rubbings, the majority of which are from China. The rubbings were made from ancient stone stelae, tomb tablets, Buddhist and Daoist scriptures on stelae and rocks, as well as inscriptions and designs copied from bronze vessels, jade objects, ceramics, tomb bricks, and roof tiles, objects dating from the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BCE) to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 CE).

Scholars have found these documents useful for studies in Chinese history, biography, epigraphy, Buddhist and Taoist art, fine arts, and calligraphy. The most significant rubbings in the collection are those from Xiaotangshan (孝堂山) stone chamber, Wu Liang shrine(武梁祠)in Shandong Province dating from the Han Period (206 BCE–220 CE), the Forest of Stelae at Xi’an (西安碑林), and Buddhist grotto sites in Gongxian (巩县) and Longmen (龙门) in Henan Province dating from the Northern Wei period (386–534 CE).

Many of these rubbings were presented to Harvard by scholars and collectors Langdon Warner, Lawrence Sickman, Hamilton Bell, and C. Adrian Rübel. Langdon Warner himself collected many rubbings in north and northwest China during two Fogg expeditions in 1923–1924 and 1925.

The entire collection of Chinese rubbings has been cataloged and digitized. Records and images are added to Harvard's HOLLIS Images and HOLLIS.


Stele of "Chunhua ge fa tie", (Model-Letter Compendia of the Chunhua reign)-- 2nd. volume: the famous officials Rubbing C-143.