The Immovable Steles at Yangshan Quarry, China



“Stele” – a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected as a monument, very often for funerary or commemorative purposes

From wiki:

After Zhu Yuanzhang (the Hongwu Emperor) founded the Ming dynasty in 1368, the city of Nanjing became the capital city of his empire. The Yangshan quarry became the main source of stone for the major construction projects that changed the face of Nanjing.[4] In 1405, Hongwu’s son, the Yongle Emperor, ordered the cutting of a giant stele in this quarry, for use in the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum of his deceased father. In accordance with the usual design of a Chinese memorial stele, three separate pieces were being cut: the rectangular stele base (pedestal), the stele body, and the stele head (crown, to be decorated with a dragon design). After most of the stone-cutting work had been done, the architects realized that moving stones that big from Yangshan to Ming Xiaoling, let alone installing them there in a proper way, would not be physically possible. As a result, the project was abandoned.[3] In place of the stele, a much smaller tablet (still, the largest in the Nanjing area), known as the Shengong Shengde (“Divine Merits and Godly Virtues”) Stele was installed in Ming Xiaoling’s “Square Pavilion” (Sifangcheng) [3] in 1413.[6]

The three unfinished stele components remain in Yangshan Quarry to this day, only partially separated from the living rock of the mountain. The present dimensions and the usual weight estimates of the steles are as follows:

The Stele Base (32°04′03″N 119°00′00″E), 30.35 m long, 13 m thick, 16 m tall,[3] 16,250 metric tons.[7]
The Stele Body (32°04′07″N 119°00′02″E), 49.4 m long (this would be the height, if the stele were to be properly installed), 10.7 m wide, 4.4 m thick,[3] 8,799 tons.[7]
The Stele Head (32°04′06″N 119°00′02″E), 10.7 m tall, 20.3 m wide, 8.4 m thick,[3] 6,118 tons.[7]
According to experts, if the stele had been finished and put together, by installing the stele body installed vertically on the base, and topping with the stele head, then it would have stood 73 meters tall.[3] For comparison, the Shengong Shengde Stele actually installed in Ming Xiaoling is 8.78 m tall (6.7 m body + crown, on top of a 2.8 m tall tortoise pedestal).[6] The Song-dynasty (early 12th century) Wan Ren Chou (“Ten Thousand Men’s Sorrow”) Stele in Qufu, which is thought to be one of the tallest in China, is 16.95 m tall, 3.75 m wide, 1.14 m thick.[8][9][10]




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