Stele of Fu

The Stele of Fu, engraved based on Emperor Kangxi’s calligraphy, is inside the Cave of Secret Cloud. The stele is 7.9 meters long and has a history of nearly 400 years. On the ground in front of the stele, there is a Chinese chessboard made of gravels; the lines of the board are still legible today.

Emperor Kangxi is an accomplished calligrapher, but his inscriptions are quite few. Therefore, this “Fu” is extremely precious. Moreover, the brushwork of this calligraphy is quite vigorous and the design is so smart that the character can be interpreted as many lands, many children, many talents and longevity. Consequently, it is praised as the “Best Fu of the world”.

Since the Stele carries Emperor Kangxi’s calligraphy, and that it is interpreted as “bring in good fortunes and extend longevity”, it had always been a national treasure for the Qing Empire and preserved in the Forbidden City. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the stele secretly disappeared. The emperor could not dismiss it from his mind, as Emperor Kangxi (his grandfather) was the one he admired the most. However, when Emperor Jiaqing (son of Emperor Qianlong) was enthroned and asked his father about the matter, Emperor Qianlong, after a moment of silence, replied with eight words: “Bu Yi Zhi Xiang, Fu Ze Wan Min” (It is at the Prime Minister’s. Let it bring good fortunes to the people). Another legend has it that Emperor Qianlong bestowed the “Best Fu of the world” to his favorite minister Heshen. Heshen had people transported thousands of eroded limestone, and built a giant stone dragon in his Garden. This dragon is just on Beijing’s Dragon Vein. Heshen preserved and enshrined the “Fu” in this dragon cave, and named it “Dong Tian Fu Di” (meaning “a cave of good fortunes”). From then on, Heshen enjoyed good fortunes and success in his career, serving as an important minister for three Emperors and even richer than the Emperors.

The dragon vein and tail hide in the cave of the Verdant Rock, and the Stele of Fu is placed exactly in the middle of the dragon vein. When Emperor Jiaqing searched Heshen’s mansion and confiscated his property, he planned to take the stele away. But if doing so, the dragon vein would be destroyed and good fortune would be reduced, which is the biggest taboo to the ancient people. Therefore, the Emperor asked people to seal it up with stones, in order to keep others from seeing the Stele and taking good fortune away. In 1962, with the approval of Premiere Zhou Enlai, Prince Kung’s Mansion was renovated. In this process, the archaeologists accidentally found this precious stele of Fu in the Cave of Secret Cloud. Learning about this, Premiere Zhou gladly named it the “Best Fu in China” which is also known as the “Best Fu of the world”.

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