Nestorian Stele

Beilin Museum ("Forest of Steles"), Xi'an

This stele displays a Nestorian cross (closeup). Written in Chinese and Syriac, it records the existence of Nestorian Christianity during the Tang dynasty when "The religion spread throughout the ten provinces ... [and] monasteries abound in a hundred cities." It was carved in 781 AD. Nestorianism continued to flourish in China until the great persecution of "foreign religions" in the mid-ninth century. At that time, Christianity virtually disappeared from the Chinese heartland, although continuing in the Uigur, Turkish, and Mongol peripheral regions.

Nestorians believed that Christ has two natures, one human and one divine. This view was condemned as heretical by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, leading to a schism between Nestorian and Orthodox Christianity.