The so-called ancestral shrine is a place where our forefathers are offered sacrifices and worshipped, and often situated in the proximity of one’s home for periodical offering ceremonies to remember the ancestors by, and for keeping in contact with other kinsmen and women. During the Han dynasty, the ancestral shrine used to be called, the dining hall, the temple, the study, the refectory or the family room. 

The materials for building Han ancestral shrine can be roughly divided into the earth and timber structure, and the stone structure. Conservations of earth and timber shrines were rather difficult, and none remains extant up to this day. Ancestral shrines built of stones are simply called the stone shrine, or stone memorial. This type of shrines is mostly found in west of Shandong, north of Jiansu and Anhui provinces. To date the most intact establishment is Xiaotangshan Stone Shrine in Changqing, Shandong Province. The Wu Family Ancestral Shrine in Jiaxiang, Shandong is known for its copious repository of portraits and exquisite sculptures, and arguably the most valuable cultural relic of the stone sculpture art of the Han dynasty, rendering it a priceless historic research monument for studying the Han lifestyle, politics, customs, religious beliefs and arts.

The portraits at the Wu Family Ancestral Shrine were documented as early as those found in Jigulu (the Record of Ancient Documents) by Ouyang Xiu, and Jinshilu (the Record of Metal and Stone) by Zhao Mingcheng. Writer Hong Gua of the south Song dynasty catalogued part of the inscriptions, drawings and portraits in Lishi and Lixu, titled “The Wuliang Ancestral Shrine Portraits.” The shrine was submerged underground due to the flooding of the Yellow River, and was excavated by famed seal cutter, Huang Yi in the 51st year of Emperor Qianlong (1786) and returned to the archaeological spotlight. 

The Wu Family Ancestral Shrine lies in the north of Wuzhai Mountain in Zhifang Township, Jiaxiang County of Shandong Province. Built in the east Han era, the shrine was built entirely in stone. During the end of Qing dynasty and the early national government period, a handful of portraits and building stones from the graves of the Wu clan were shipped overseas. Currently the extant collection from the Wu Family Graves include: two stone watchtowers, a pair of stone lions, about 40 portraits in the shrine, and excavated articles from the 1st and 2nd grave.
This particular exhibition features mostly the portraits, stone carvings and books of rubbings of the Wu Family Ancestral Shrine. The showroom layout is largely a replica of stone vaults of the Shrine designed by Mr. Jiang Yingju; the exhibition is arranged with each stone recess as a unit, displaying portraits and books of rubbings in Wuliang Shrine, the anterior stone recess and the left recess. Some of the most mportant historic documents on Wurong Stele, Wuban Stele, and Wu Family Ancestral Shrine would also be on display。