15 February, fourth year of the Yongping period, Northern Wei dynasty(AD 511)
Height of Epitaph Stone 108 cm, Width 78 cm, Thickness I2 cm
Excavated at Sima Yue's tomb, Meng County, Henan Province, 1979
This rectangular epitaph stone records the main events in the life of Sima Yue, his burial place and year of death. His biography is in the Beishi (History of the Northern dynasties), with additional details in the biography or Sima Chuzhi, in the Weishu (History of the Wei dynasty). Sima Yue was the third son of Sima Jinlong, King of Kang, grandson of Zhen King Sima Chuzhi. The biography records that Yue was in service as an official at the court of Emperor Xiaowen, and then promoted to Provincial Governor of Yuzhou (modern day Henan) because of his prowess in battle. He was held in high esteem by the people of Yuzhou.
Beheaded in an armed rebellion in AD 508, his head and body were dispatched to different locations. The epitaph and historical records largely accord with one another, though not all details are mentioned in the textual sources.
The calligraphy resembles that of the Weichi, Yuanxiang and Yang Dayan inscriptions, which are among the 20 works from Longmen. Robust shapes and solid composition give a sense of the work’s unyielding erudition and fluid poise. The epitaph stone is perfectly preserved, the characters extremely clear and the carving marks still visible; this is a handsome example of Wei dynasty stele.