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The stele survives as two fragments. The right section is the larger of the two and bears an inscription of nine vertical lines consisting of 157 Chinese characters. The lower left section has forty-one Chinese characters in five lines. Well-preserved as if newly carved, the inscription is fashioned in the clerical script. The characters demonstrate the craftsman“s strength as he yielded his chisel. This stele is typical of pieces dated to the Han dynasty.
The larger section was discovered during the Daoguang reign (1821-1850) of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). First belonging to the collection of the late-Qing official Duanfang (1861-1911) from the Plain White Banner, the piece later belonged to Zhou Jimu (1893-1937). Ke Changsi (1899-1952) of Shandong Province was the original owner of the smaller section. As with the larger section, it, too, became a valued piece in Zhou Jimu’s collection.
Wu Shijian (1868-1934) first conducted research on the stele inscriptions and believed that the “Marquis of Xixiang” (Xixiang hou) mentioned in the text was Zhang Ji, the marquis of Xixiang of the Wei Kingdom (220-265). Therefore he titled the stele “Wei Kingdom Fragment Stele for the Elder Brother of the Marquis of Xixiang” (Wei Xixiang hou xiong canbei). Later Zhou Jimu, Yang Shuda (1885-1956), and Yu Jiaxi (1884-1955) questioned Wu’s account. Yang and Yu argued that the “Marquis of Xixiang” in the text was actually Zhang Jing, who was active in the reign of Emperor Huan (132-167) of the Eastern Han (25-220). Thus, the stele was retitled as “Memorial Stele for Lord Zhang, Han Dynasty Magistrate of Chiyang County” (Han Chiyang ling Zhangjun bei). Their argument has been widely accepted.
The ink rubbing of a third, missing fragment of the original stele has another seventy characters grouped in five lines.