The cliffside inscriptions at the Seven Star Crags scenic area are one of the rare large cliffside inscription groups in China.
The cliffside inscriptions at the Seven Star Crags scenic area can be found on the northern outskirts of Zhaoqing. They are one of the rare large cliffside inscription groups in China. In the Seven Star Crags, the cliff area is less than 1.5 square kilometers, but 523 inscriptions have been carved since the Tang Dynasty. They are densely distributed on the cliffs and well preserved. There are many styles of handwriting in Chinese and foreign languages. They are fine stone carving artworks and also important material objects for studying the politics, economy and culture of every dynasty since Tang.
Among the cliffside inscriptions in the Seven Star Crags, the oldest one is Li Yong’s Duanzhou Stone Room Note. This stone inscription is l.07 meters high and 0.79 meters wide. The text, title and signature consist of 18 lines and 386 characters. The date on the inscription is the “25th day of the first month in the 15th year of the Kaiyuan Period (727)”. Because there is a horseshoe stamp on the left of the center of the stone inscription, it is also called a horseshoe tablet. Horseshoe stamps first appeared in the early Song Dynasty. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, 319 characters were visible. Today, 273 characters are clearly visible. Another 31 characters are unclear, but still identifiable. After Li Yong made his mark there, scholars visiting the Seven Star Crags liked writing poems and created inscriptions or painting on the cliffs of the Seven Star Crags to describe the scenery and express their feelings.
Of the 523 stone inscriptions, four were written during n the Tang Dynasty, 80 in the Song Dynasty, 13 in the Yuan Dynasty, 146 in the Ming Dynasty, 117 in the Qing Dynasty, 10 in the Republic of China, 109 in the modern days and 44 in an unknown era. Most of them are on Shishi Crag, Yuping Crag and Apo Crag. Shishi Crag has the most stone inscriptions, as many as 333, accounting for 63.6 percent of the total stone inscriptions in the Seven Star Crags.
In terms of language, the stone inscriptions in the Seven Star Crags are dominated by Chinese though there are also Tibetan and Spanish words. The calligraphic styles of Chinese characters include the traditional seal, and official, regular, running and cursive scripts. Here you can find the works of many famous calligraphers. They form a unique calligraphy treasury in South China. You can find the regular script of Li Yong in the Tang Dynasty, the running script of Guo Xiangzheng in the Song Dynasty, the seal script of Wu Guifang and Zhu Wan in the Ming Dynasty, the seal script of Hong Yixuan in the Qing Dynasty, the official script of Li Jian and Chen Gongying in the Qing Dynasty, and the cursive script of Qi Ying in the Qing Dynasty.
Cliffside inscriptions in the Seven Star Crags contain poetry, travel notes, historical facts, antithetical couplets and paintings. Poetry is dominant. Shishi Crag alone has 206 poems and has been called “a thousand-year poem corridor”. The cliffside inscription group in the Seven Star Crags is the best in South China in terms of the quantity, density and quality of stone inscriptions. It records the geographic environment, mountain and river vicissitudes, major historical events, religious beliefs, temples, buildings, rocks, soil and dynasty changes of Zhaoqing. Because of its rich history, the government of Guangdong province listed it as a cultural heritage site under provincial protection in l962.