Theoretically, ink rubbings are secondary to the steles they come from, but they served as primary sources for epigraphers who were more interested in literati inscriptionality than they were in the three-dimensional monumentality of the steles. In this shifting status of the two media, textual form and calligraphic style play a subtle yet critical role in the appreciation of inscriptions. Beginning in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, scholars in China and Korea exchanged rubbings of ancient steles to build friendships. Conflicting interpretations, however, arose when discussing the calligraphic style of Korean inscriptions. Chinese fascination with Korean steles is understood as part of their investigation into the remnants of Chinese heritage on the Korean peninsula. Korean scholars, in turn, attempted to suggest that Korean culture kept abreast with that of China from early times onward. Using two case studies of the Mujangsa and Hwangch’oryŏng Steles, this article discusses how self-serving agendas motivated scholars of both countries.

You do not currently have access to this content.