17. Headstone of Huang, with Chinese Inscription
Yuan dynasty (1272—1368)
Quanzhou Maritime Museum
Ricci 17 KP 015 Z23
This simple tombstone was discovered in 1947 and is a good example of the cultural adaptation undertaken by members of the Christian community in Quanzhou during the Mongol period. The depiction of an open canopy over a cross on a lotus flower is found on several other tombstones from the city and is unique to Quanzhou. The iconographic motif of the open canopy is taken from Buddhist art where it appears over a Buddha or Bodhisattva. It draws attention to the royalty and divinity of the figure protected by it.
While many of the inscribed tombstones in the Epigraphical Gallery of the Quanzhou Maritime Museum are of a monumental nature and in Syro-Turkic, a number are of a plain design with inscriptions in Chinese or Phags-pa, the official script invented for the Mongol dynasty. On this stone, Chinese characters are inscribed in two open scrolls terminating in lotus flowers, reading Virtuous (sic) Esquire Huang aged ninety-three. It is clear from the name that the deceased was of Chinese origin, and suggests that not only Turkic-speakers from Central Asia but Chinese from the local population belonged to the Church of the East community at Quanzhou.