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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 9815664

Rubbings from China in the Rübel Collection, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University,


Rubbings, mostly ink on paper, from sites and stelae in China.


  • 1800-1935

Language of Materials


Physical Description

Box count is approximate.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use. Please contact Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and/or publication of materials subject to copyright requires written permission from a) the copyright owner, his/her heirs or assigns and from b) the Fine Arts Library, owner of the original material.


91 linear feet
194 boxes (2602 items)

A collection of rubbings, largely done in ink on paper, from sites and stelae in China, including both images and text. The rubbings were made during the Ming dynasty to approximately the 1940's, and represent examples of Chinese art and calligraphy from Zhou through Qing periods. They are taken from bronzes, jades, stone carvings, stelae, calligraphy models, tomb epitaphs, cave temples, paintings, pictorial bricks, and tiles.

Highlights of the collection include rubbings from Xiaotangshan stone chamber, Wu Liang shrine in Shandong Province dating from the Han Period (206 BCE-220 CE), the Forest of Stelae at Xi'an, and Buddhist grotto sites in Gongxian and Longmen in Henan Province dating from the Northern Wei period (386-534 CE).

Biographical / Historical

These rubbings were presented to Harvard by scholars and collectors Langdon Warner, Lawrence Sickman, Hamilton Bell, Adrian Rübel, and others. Langdon Warner collected many rubbings in north and northwest China during two Fogg Museum-sponsored expeditions in 1923-1924 and 1925, and he donated others between the 1950s and the 1970s. Seals on some of the rubbings indicate various sources, including the collectors Ruan Yuan (1764-1849) and Duan Fang (1861-1911), and the Graduate School at Beijing University.


Arranged by medium of the work from which each rubbing was made; subarranged by site.

Each rubbing has a unique alphanumeric identifier.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from: Harvard University. Dept. of Fine Arts in 1984 when the department's Rübel Asiatic Research Bureau was absorbed by: Harvard University. Fine Arts Library.

Related Materials

Other significant collections of Chinese rubbings may be found in: Harvard Yenching Library; Academia Sinica, Taipei; National Library, Beijing; Peking University, Beijing; Xi'an Beilin (Stele Forest); Field Museum, Chicago; University of California at Berkeley; Kyoto University

Separated Materials

Several scrolls of rubbings are housed separately in the Sackler Museum.

Processing Information

In 1988 the collection was inventoried by Jiang Zudi of Beijing University and Yen-shew Chao of Harvard's Fine Arts Library. In July 2007 a project was completed to catalog and digitize each rubbing through the efforts of Miao-Lin Hsu, cataloger in the Fine Arts Library and the Digital Imaging and Photography Group of Harvard College Library. As part of the same project, conservators Heather Hendry and Sarah Reidell of Harvard University's Weissman Preservation Center surveyed the collection; unfolded and flattened rubbings as needed; mended tears, splits and losses; and added backing material as necessary for stability. Cynthia Winters, Preservation Supervisor in the Fine Arts Library, flattened and rehoused the smaller rubbings.

Rubbings from China in the Rübel Collection, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University: Finding Aid
Fine Arts Library, Harvard Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Fine Arts Library Repository

The Fine Arts Library is among the leading libraries in the world for the study of art, architecture, and visual culture from antiquity to the present. Since 1895, FAL has served the needs of the visual arts community at Harvard, providing research and curricular support for all areas in the history of art, architecture, photography, and the decorative arts. FAL's archival collections may be consulted in the Special Collections Study Room by appointment only.

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