Prof. the Honourable Jao Tsung-I, GBM, a world-renowned sinologist and Wei Lun Honorary Professor of Fine Arts at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has been named Associate Foreign Member of Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Institut de France. The induction ceremony was held today (19 September) at Lee Hysan Concert Hall on CUHK campus. Prof. Michel Zink, Permanent Secretary, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres of Institut de France presented the academician's sword, certificate, presidential decree and medal to Professor Jao at the ceremony. The Associate Foreign Membership is the highest honour among overseas academicians of Institut de France. Professor Jao is the first-ever Asian sinologist to be awarded this honourable title.
Prof. Franciscus Verellen, Academician of Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Institut de France; Prof. Michel Zink, Permanent Secretary, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Institut de France; Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President, CUHK; Prof. Leung Yuen-sang, Head of Chung Chi College and Dean of Faculty of Arts, CUHK; and Prof. Jenny So, Professor of Fine Arts and Director of Art Museum of Institute of Chinese Studies, CUHK, attended the ceremony with about 200 local and overseas dignitaries from academic, fine arts, cultural and religious sectors to send their warm congratulations to Professor Jao.
Prof. Joseph Sung said, 'CUHK has long enjoyed close ties with Professor Jao for more than 60 years. We are honoured to be able to learn from Professor Jao's wisdom in his capacity as a teacher, and a staunch supporter. The university campus is also richly endowed with the beautiful paintings and calligraphy of Professor Jao. I wish to thank Prof. Franciscus Verellen and Prof. Michel Zink most sincerely for honouring us with presence and adding to the lustre of the occasion. It is hoped that our two institutions may continue our friendship and connection could be further enhanced and strengthened, contributing to the benefits of our cultural and academic pursuits.'
Prof. Jenny So, Professor of Fine Arts and Director of Art Museum of Institute of Chinese Studies, CUHK, delivered a vote of thanks on behalf of Professor Jao, 'I have established close academic connection and friendship with the sector of French sinology for over half a century, since I first met renowned French sinologist Prof. Paul Demiéville in the 1950s. I am deeply honoured to be conferred the Associate Foreign Membership by the Institut de France.' Professor Jao also thanked Prof. Franciscus Verellen and Prof. Michel Zink for flying all the way from France to CUHK to officiate at the Induction Ceremony, as well as Prof. Joseph Sung and CUHK for providing the venue and make it one of the celebratory events of the 50th anniversary of CUHK.
Achievements of Prof. Jao Tsung-I
Professor Jao commands an academic repertoire of great extent covering Dunhuang studies, oracular bone inscriptions, the study of ci, historiography, bibliography, the study of chu ci, archaeology, epigraphy, regional folklore studies, historical musicology, comparative linguistics, comparative cultural studies, the history of exchange between China and the world, the history of religion, regional history, translation, and the history of painting and calligraphy. Professor Jao has published over 80 books and more than 500 treaties to date.
Professor Jao is also an artist of the first rank, and his talents are not confined to any single discipline. He is a most competent poet, calligrapher, painter, and performer on the qin. His literary creativity has brought forth writings of great refinement and intense intellectual interest in all the major genres, including the poem, the essay, the ci and the fu, and many of these have been compiled into collections. Apart from publishing over twenty collections of his works in belles-lettres, he has also given painting and calligraphy exhibitions in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Beijing.
Professor Jao has received many important honours and awards in the cultural and academic fields, including the Prix Stanislas Julien, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres, Institute de France (1962), Academician of the Ecole francaise d'Extreme Orient in France and Honorary Member of the Societe Asiatique in Paris, Academician of the International Academy of Sciences for Europe and Asia; Honorary Doctor of Letters conferred by many local and overseas universities. He is also the first Chinese who received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in humanities by the École Pratique des Hautes Études in France; awarded Officier de L'ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture in France, the Grand Bauhinia Medal by the Hong Kong SAR Government; a special prize for special contributions to the protection of Dunhuang relics by the Cultural Heritage Bureau of the People's Republic of China and the People's Government of Gansu; Honorary Award by Hong Kong Arts Development Council and China Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chinese National Academy of Arts. In 2013, Professor Jao received the Award for Outstanding Contributions to China Studies by World Forum on China Studies. In 2011, Professor Jao was appointed the 7th President of the Xiling Society of Seal Art. In the same year, the International Astronomical Union approved the denomination of the minor planet, numbered 10017, discovered by the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing as 'Jao Tsung-I', in order to pay tribute to the marvelous accomplishment of Professor Jao and his great contribution to the cultural development of China and the world.
Relationship between Professor Jao and CUHK
Professor Jao first came to teach at CUHK in 1952, and then served as the Chair of Chinese and the Chairman of the Chinese Department in 1973. He is currently Wei Lun Honorary Professor of Fine Arts in the Institute of Chinese Studies and the Department of Fine Arts, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, as well as adviser of the Institute of Chinese Studies. Over the years, he has generously donated a significant quantity of books, paintings and calligraphic works to the University, and provided invaluable advice on promoting academic development at the University. In 2003, Professor Jao was conferred a Doctor of Literature, honoris causa, by CUHK.
About Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Institut de France
Founded in 1663 on an initiative by Colbert, the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres is one of the five Academies of the Institut de France. The Academy represents a very long tradition of scholarship and its international influence has inspired invaluable support. It plays an essential role in the advancement of historical, archaeological, and philological scholarship. According to its charter, the Academy 'is primarily concerned with the study of the monuments, the documents, the languages, and the cultures of the civilizations of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the classical period, as well as those of non-European civilizations.' The active involvement of the Academy as well as that of its individual members in the progress of the humanities through the study of everything that is related to human activity and creativity, places it in a privileged position within the current academic community.
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