The Full Wiki

Stele: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stela N from Copán, Honduras, depicting King K'ac Yipyaj Chan K'awiil ("Smoke Shell"), as drawn by Frederick Catherwood in 1839

A stele (pronounced /ˈstiːliː/, older /ˈstiːl/, from Greek: στήλη stēlē; plural: stelae /ˈstiːlaɪ/, στῆλαι stēlai; also found: Latinised singular stela and Anglicised plural steles) is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief (bas-relief, sunken-relief, high-relief, and so forth), or painted onto the slab.

Contents

History and function

Stelae were also used as territorial markers, as the boundary stelae of Akhenaton at Amarna,[1] or to commemorate military victories.[2] They were widely used in the Ancient Near East, Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, and, most likely independently, in China and elsewhere in the Far East, and, more surely independently, by Mesoamerican civilisations, notably the Olmec[3] and Maya.[4] The huge number of stelae surviving from ancient Egypt and in Central America constitute one of the largest and most significant sources of information on those civilisations. An informative stele of Tiglath-Pileser III is preserved in the British Museum. Two stelae built into the walls of a church are major documents relating to the Etruscan language.

The erection of steles was popular in China and consisted of rectangular stone tablets usually inscribed with a funerary, commemorative, or edifying text. Although the earliest steles, inspired by Buddhists, date to the first half of the fifth century, this visual form did not come into general use until the last years of the fifth century, and this custom prevailed until the end of the sixth century. From then on the design of steles drifted away from pure Buddhist influence and became wordy displays of script mostly eulogistic or commemorative. They were placed in front of tombs to announce the name of the person buried there, often to provide details of the deceased’s life, or were provided to commemorate a particular incident or event and to give details of the purpose of the occasion.

Erecting steles at tombs or temples eventually became a widespread social and religious phenomenon. Emperors found it necessary to promulgate laws, regulating the use of funerary steles by the population. The Ming Dynasty laws, instituted in the 14th century by its founder the Hongwu Emperor, listed a number of stele types available as status symbols to various ranks of the nobility and officialdom: the top noblemen and mandarins were eligible for steles installed on top of a stone tortoise and crowned with hornless dragons, while the lower-level officials had to be satisfied with steles with plain rounded tops, standing on simple rectangular pedestals.[5]

A number of such stone monuments have preserved the origin and history of China's minority religious communities. The 8th-century Christians of Xi'an left behind the Nestorian Stele, which survived adverse events of the later history by being buried underground for several centuries. Steles created by the Kaifeng Jews in 1489, 1512, and 1663, have survived the repeated flooding of the Yellow River that destroyed their synagogue several times, to tell us something about their world. China's Muslim have a number of steles of considerable antiquity as well, often containing both Chinese and Arabic text.

Thousands of steles, surplus to the original requirements, and no longer associated with the person they were erected for, have been assembled in Xi'an's "Stele Forest" Museum, becoming a popular tourist attraction. Elsewhere, many unwanted steles can also be found in selected places in Beijing, such as Dong Yue Miao, the Five Pagoda Temple, and the Bell Tower, again assembled to attract tourists and also as a means of solving the problem faced by local authorities of what to do with them. The long, wordy, and detailed inscriptions on these steles are almost impossible to read for most are lightly engraved on white marble in characters only an inch or so in size, thus being difficult to see since the slabs are often ten or more feet tall. Very seldom are the inscriptions memorable or of any interest.

Unfinished standing stones, set up without inscriptions from Libya in North Africa to Scotland were monuments of pre-literate Megalithic cultures in the Late Stone Age. The Pictish stones of Scotland, often intricately carved, date from between the 6th and 9th centuries.

An obelisk is a specialized kind of stele. The Insular high crosses of Ireland and Britain are specialized stelae. Likewise, the Totem pole of North and South America is a type of stelae. Gravestones with inscribed epitaph are also kinds of stelae.

Most recently, in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, the architect Peter Eisenman created a field of some 2,700 blank stelae.[6] The memorial is meant to be read not only as the field, but also as an erasure of data that refer to memory of the Holocaust.

Notable individual stelae

Chinese ink rubbings of the 1489 (left) and 1512 (right) stelae left by the Kaifeng Jews.

Gallery

See also

Bibliography

  • John Boardman ed., The Cambridge Ancient History, Part 1, 2nd Edition, (ISBN 9780521224963 | ISBN 0521224969)
  • Christopher A. Pool, Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica, Cambridge University Press, 2007 (ISBN 9780521783125)
  • Karen E. Till, The New Berlin: Memory, Politics, Place, University of Minnesota Press, 2005

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ Memoirs By Egypt Exploration Society Archaeological Survey of Egypt 1908, p. 19
  2. ^ e.g., Piye's victory stela (M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol 3, The University of California Press 1980, pp.66ff) or Shalmaneser's stela at Saluria (Boardman, op.cit, p.335)
  3. ^ Pool, op.cit., p.265
  4. ^ Pool, op.cit., p.277
  5. ^ de Groot, Jan Jakob Maria (1892), The Religious System of China, II, Brill Archive, pp. 451-452, http://www.archive.org/stream/religioussystem01groogoog#page/n105/mode/1up .
  6. ^ Till, op.cit., p.168
  7. ^ Shahar, Meir. The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008 (ISBN 0824831101), pp. 35-36

External links

Advertisements

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

(There is currently no text in this page)


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|Stela N, depicting King K'ac Yipyaj Chan K'awiil ("Smoke Shell"), as drawn by Frederick Catherwood in 1839]]

A stele[1] is a stone or wooden slab, mostly taller than it is wide, that is erected for commemorative purposes. Mostly it is decorated with the names and titles of the person that shall remind of. This is inscribed, carved in relief or painted onto the slab.

Contents

History and function

Stelae were also used as territorial markers, as the boundary stelae of Akhenaten at Amarna,[2] or to commemorate military victories.[3] They were widely used in the Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, and, quite independently, in China and some Buddhist cultures, and, more surely independently, by Mesoamerican civilisations, especially the Olmec[4] and Maya.[5] The huge number of stelae that survive from ancient Egypt and in Central America are one of the largest and most significant sources of information on those civilisations.

Unfinished standing stones, set up without inscriptions from Libya in North Africa to Scotland were monuments of pre-literate Megalithic cultures in the Late Stone Age.

An obelisk is a specialized kind of stele. The Celtic high crosses of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are specialized stelae. Likewise, the Totem pole of North and South America is a type of stelae. Gravestones are also kinds of stelae.

In 2004 the architect Peter Eisenman created a field of some 2,700 blank stelae, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin[6] to memory of the Holocaust.

Notable individual stelae

Gallery

Other pages

Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found

Bibliography

  • John Boardman ed., The Cambridge Ancient History, Part 1, 2nd Edition, (ISBN-13: 9780521224963 | ISBN-10: 0521224969)
  • Christopher A. Pool, Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica, Cambridge University Press 2007 (ISBN-13: 9780521783125)
  • Karen E. Till, The New Berlin: Memory, Politics, Place, University of Minnesota Press 2005

Footnotes and references

Other websites


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message