Christian Designs Found in Tomb Stones of Eastern Han Dynasty

When studying a batch of stone carvings of Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.) stored and exhibited in the Museum of Xuzhou Han Stone Carvings, Christian theology professor Wang Weifan was greatly surprised by some stone engravings demonstrating the Bible stories and designs of early Christian times.

Further studies showed that some of these engravings were made in 86 A.D., or the third year under the reign of "Yuanhe" of Eastern Han Dynasty, 550 years earlier than the world accepted time of Christianity's entrance into China.

The 74-year-old professor, who is also a standing member of the China Christian Council, showed reporter a pile of photos of Han stone carvings and bronze basins taken by him. He also compared the designs on them with that of the Bible, composed of fish, birds, and animals demonstrating how God created the earth.

Designs on these ancient stones displayed the artistic style of early Christian times found in Iraq and Middle East area while bearing the characteristics of China's Eastern Han times.

The stone carvings, being important funeral objects, are mainly found in four cities, and Xuzhou is one of them. It is reported that by now more than 20 intact Han tombs have been found, from which nearly 500 pieces of engraved stones were discovered.

It is globally accepted that Christianity was first carried into China by a Syrian missionary Alopen in 635 A.D. the ninth year under the reign of "Zhenguan" of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.).

Some experts once raised doubts that Christianity may have entered China in an early time as the Eastern Han, but lack evidence. Nevertheless, professor Wang's discovery serves to strongly back up the theory and the earlier works of his own.

( People's Daily August 1, 2002)