Syriac and Chinese Names on the Xian-Fu Stone

Syriac Names on the Xian-Fu Stone

Syriac and Chines names under Chinese graffiti

There are 77  Syriac names inscribed on the Xian-Fu Stone. Seven are titled clergy and 70 are in the main lists.


The big discovery is that the Chinese names that follow are often place names. For example, Ephrem is identified as from Fu-lin which means Syria or Bethlehem (Hirth), or Judea (Saeki, Kircher). Other names indicate places in China where there probably were churches. Unlike Saeki, Pelliot, Herot, and others I do not believe these to be the Chinese names for the Syriac priests and monks.

Bakos is from Ch’eng-ching (see 12). This led me to search for a sacred site in the Chungqing area where there might be a probable location for a Jing Jiao Church. (See chapter on Sacred Sites: Search for a Jing Jiao Church)

What is misleading on the stone inscriptions is that the Chinese names lead with the word “seng” for priest  or monk. But it could just as easily be translated “priest of ….” Combined with the Syriac it would read (Syriac) Father Bakos, (Chinese) Priest of Ch’eng Ching. I count sixty two place names among the Chinese names that follow the Syriac and eight missing or illegible names.

The Stone mentions that there were churches in ten provinces and regions of China during the Tang Dynasty. I have searched thousands of pages hoping to find a record of these locations. All along it has been staring me in the face. It is on the Stone.

This should open a vast area of research for archaeologists, historians, and students of Chinese religious history.

[The Following are written in Syriac, running down the right and left sides of the Chinese inscription above].

1.  “Adam, Deacon, Vicar-episcopal and Pope of China (Sianistan).

2. In the time of the Father of Fathers, Mar John Joshua, the Universal Patriarch.”

[The Following is in Syriac at the foot of the stone].

“In the year of the Greeks one thousand and ninety-two, the Lord Jazedbuzid, Priest and Vicar-episcopal of Cumdan the royal city, son of the enlightened Mailas, Priest of Balkh a city of Turkestan, set up this tablet, whereon is inscribed the Dispensation of our Redeemer, and the preaching of the apostolic missionaries to the King of China.”

[After this, in Chinese characters, follows: ]

3. “The Priest Lingpau.”

[Then follows in Syriac:]

4. “Adam the Deacon, son of Jazedbuzid, Vicar-episcopal.

5. Mar  Sergius, Priest and Vicar-episcopal.

6. Sabar Jesus, Priest.

7. Gabriel, Priest, Archdeacon, and Ecclesiarch of Cumdan and Sarag.”

[The following subscription is appended in Chinese :]

“Assistant Examiner: the High Statesman of the Sacred rites, the Imperially conferred purple-gown Chief Presbyter and Priest Yi-li.”

[On the left-hand edge are the Syriac names of seventy Christians, most have Chinese names. ]

Left side top row

1. Mor Johanon Bishop (Bishop Yao-Lun)

2. Ishok Priest (Priest Jih-chin)   僧日进(seng1 ri4   jin4)

3. Joel Priest (Priest Yao-yueh)  僧遥越(seng1 yao2  yue4)

4. Micael Priest (Preist Kuang-ch’ing僧广庆(seng1 guang3 qing4 )

5. Giwargis Priest (Priest Ho-chi)僧和吉(seng1 he2 ji2)

6. Mahadad of Goshnasaf   Priest (Preist Hui-ming) 僧惠明(seng1 hui4 ming2)

7. Mashihadad Priest  (Priest Pao-ta) 僧宝达(sengq1 bao3 da2)

8. Ephrem Priest  (Priest Fu-lin) Syria. According to Saeki the name is the equivalent of Da Qin.               fu2 lin2     古代对古罗马的称谓

9. Aba Priest (missing name)

10. Dawid Priest (missing name)

11. Mosha Priest (priest Fu-shou)  僧福寿(seng1 fu2 shou4)

Second Row

12. Bakos Priest  (Priest Ch’ung-ching) 僧崇敬(seng1 Chong2  jing4)

13. Elia Priest of Judea (Priest Yen-ho)yan2   he2  唐朝的年号?

14. Moshe Priest of Judea (missing name)

15. Abdisho Priest and monk (missing name)

16. Shemoun Priest of Sepulchre (missing name)

17. Johanis Deacon and helper  (Priest Hui-t’ung)   僧惠通(seng1 hui4  tong1)

Third Row

18. Aaron  (Priest Ch’ien-yu)  僧乾祐(seng1 qian2 you4)

19. Petros Priest Yuan-i)  Royal Quarter? 僧元一(seng1 yuan2 yi1)

20. Job (Priest Ching-te) 僧敬德(seng1 jing4 de2)

(jing4 de2) 21. Luke (Priest Li-chien)   僧利见(seng1 li4 jian4)

22. Matti  (Priest Ming-t’ai) 僧明泰(seng1 ming2 tai4)

23. John  (Priest Hsuan-chen)僧玄真(seng1 xuan2 zhen1)

24. Yeshuameh  (Preist Jen-hui) 僧仁惠(seng1 ren2 hui4)

25.  John (Priest Yao-yuan)僧曜原(seng1 yao4 yuan2)

26. Sabryeshu (Priest Chao-te) 僧昭 德(seng1  zhao1 de2)

27. Yeshudad (Priest Wen-ming) 僧文明(seng1 wen2 ming2)

28. Luke (Priest Wen-cheng)僧文贞( seng1 wen2  zhen1)

29. Constantinus (Priest Chu-hsin)僧居信(seng1 ju1  xin4)

30. Noah (Priest Lai-wei)僧来威( seng1 lai2  wei1)

Fourth row

31.  Izadsafas (Priest Ching-chen)僧敬真( seng1 jing4 zhen1)

32. John (Priest Huan-shun)僧还淳(seng1 huan2  chun2)

33. Anoosh (Enoch) (Priest Ling-shou)僧灵寿(seng1 ling2   shou4)

34. Mar Sagis  (Priest Ling-te)僧灵德(seng1 ling2   de2)

35. Issak  (Priest Ying-te)僧英德(seng1 ying1   de2)

36. John (Priest Chung-ho)僧冲和(seng1 chong1    he2)

37. Mar Sargis (Priest Ying-hsu) 僧凝虚(seng1 ning2 xu1)

38. Pose (Priest P’u-chi)

39. Shemoun (Priest Wen-shun)

40. Isak (Priest Kuang-chi)

41. John (Priest Shou-i) Royal Quarter?


Right Side, Top Row

42. Jacob Priest (Venerable Yeh-chu-mo) 老宿耶俱摩(lao3 xiu3  ye1  ju4  mo2)

43. Mar Sargis Priest and Choripiscopos of Shiang-thusa  (Priest Ching-t’ung)僧景通(seng1 jing3    tong1)

44. George  Priest and Arch Deacon of Kumdan  and doctor of reading (Priest Hsuan-lan)) Korea?

45. Paul  Priest (Priest Pao-ling) Baoling alternate name. Old name for Foshan. Southern China.        僧宝靈(seng1  Bao3   ling2)

46. Shemoun Priest  (Priest Shen-shen)僧审慎(seng1 shen3  shen4)

47. Adam Priest (Priest Fa-yuan) Fuyin? 僧法源 (seng1 fa3  yuan2)

48. Elia Priest (Priest Li-pen)僧立本(seng1 li4  ben3)

49. Isak Priest (Priest Ho-ming)僧和明(seng1 he2  ming2)

50. John Priest (Priest Kuang-chen)僧光正(seng1 guang1  zheng4)

51. John Priest (Priest Nei cheng)Nanchang? 僧内澄(seng1 nei4 cheng2)

52. Shemoun Priest and Servant (missing name)

53. Jacob Reader (Priest Ch’ung-te)僧崇德(seng1 chong2 de2)

54. Ebdyesua (Priest Tai-ho)僧太和(seng1 tai4   he2)

55. Ishodad (Priest Ching-fu)僧景福(seng1 jing3   fu2)

56. Jacob (Preist Ho-kuang)僧和光(seng1 he2   guang1)

57. John (Priest Chih-te)僧至德(seng1 zhi4   de2)

58. Shubhaalmaran  (Priest Feng-chen)僧奉真(seng1 feng4   zhen1)

59. Mar Sargis (Priest Yuan-tsung)僧元宗(seng1 yuan2   zong1)

60. Shemoun (Priest Li-yung)僧利用(seng1 li4 yong4)

61. Ephrem (Priest Husan-te) 僧玄德(seng1 xuan2  de2)

62. Zakriah (Priest I-chi) 僧義济(seng1 yi4  ji4)

63. Koriakos (Priest Chih-chien)僧志坚(seng1 zhi4   jian1)

64. Bakus (Priest Pao-kuo)僧保国 (seng1 bao3  guo2)

65. Emanuel (Priest Ming-i)  僧明一(seng1 ming2   yi1)

Third Row

66. Gabriel (Priest Kuang-te) 僧广德(seng1 guang3   de2)

67. John (no Chinese name)

68. Shlemoun (Priest Chu-shen)僧去甚(seng1 qu4  shen4)

69. Ishak  (no Chinese name)

70. John (Priest Te-chien)僧德建(seng1 de2   jian4 )


The monument was damaged in 1859 with graffiti. According to Saeki:

This was erected in the 2d year of Kien-chung, of the Tang Dynasty [A.D. 781], on the 7th day of the 1st month, being Sunday.

Written by Lu Siu-yen, Secretary to Council, formerly Military Superintendent for Tai-chau; while the Bishop Ning-shu had the charge of the congregations of the Illustrious in the East.


The Nestorian Stele is also referred to as the Nestorian Monument, Nestorian Stone, Nestorian Inscription, or in its original Chinese title, Dàqín Jǐngjiào liúxíng Zhōngguó bēi大秦景教流行中國碑, literally “Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin.” For monograph length treatments of the Nestorian Stele, see Frits Vilhelm Holm, Paul Carus, and Alexander Wylie, The Nestorian Monument: An Ancient Record of Christianity in China (Chicago: Open Court, 1909); P. Y. Saeki 佐伯好郎, The Nestorian Monument in China (London: SPCK, 1916); P’an Shen 潘紳, Jing jiao bei wenzhu shi《景教碑文註釋》= The Nestorian Tablet at Sian Shensi: Text and Commentary by P’an Shen, a Scholar of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui (Shanghai: Sheng Kung Hui, 1925-1926); Feng Chengjun 馮承均, Jing jiao bei kao《景教碑考》= Nestorian Stele(Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1935; repr., Taipei:

About daleinchina

Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences.
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