Who’s who in Guangdong literati and gentry

The Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS) has launched the world’s first research repository that focuses on Guangdong literati and gentry to promote Guangdong culture to the global audience.

The “Digital Repository of Rare Books, Calligraphy, and Paintings of Guangdong Literati and Gentry from the Ming Dynasty to the Republican Era” showcases valuable collections of Guangdong cultural legacies from the CUHK Art Museum and the CUHK Library. It also presents the profiles of 100 significant personalities drawing on a wide range of textual and visual materials.

With new ways to visualise the digitised data, the repository introduces a new perspective to the study of Guangdong literati and gentry during the period, serving as an important platform for encouraging interdisciplinary research and promoting the culture of Guangdong to the global audience.

The ICS hosted a three-day international conference on Lingnan Culture and the World in hybrid mode on 23–25 November, where the repository was launched.

The officiating guests were Ms Lillian Kiang, chief executive officer of Bei Shan Tang Foundation which has generously supported the development of the repository over the past years; CUHK Provost Professor Alan Chan Kam-leung; Professor Max Tang Xiaobing, dean of Faculty of Arts and director of the Institute of Chinese Studies; Professor Josh Yiu Chun-chong, director of the CUHK Art Museum; Ms Li Lai-fong, Associate University Librarian of CHUK; Professor Lai Chi-tim, Project Leader of the Repository and Executive Associate Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies.

The repository and the conference are both outcomes of a Collaborative Research Fund project examining Lingnan culture between 1821 and 1949, led by Professor Lai along with eight other interdisciplinary scholars from CUHK and other local universities.

“The project aims for a breakthrough in uncovering a cluster of crucial Cantonese literati, whose thoughtful reception of the global knowledge and culture and re-examination of Chinese traditions shed new light on our understanding of the multifaceted Lingnan culture in the worldwide context,” said Professor Lai.

The conference engaged 28 scholars in various field of Chinese studies in nine panel presentations and discussions. The group shared insights and research on a board range of topics on Lingnan culture, from literary traditions, translingual practice, Cantonese opera, linguistics, to Lingnan religions, scientific knowledge, material culture, and institutions. The event attracted more than 800 online views from all over the world.


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