Jao Tsung-i, secondary personal name Gu’an, courtesy name Xuantang, and study name Lijushi, was born in Chaozhou, Guangdong in 1917. As a worldwide renowned scholar of Sinology, Professor Jao has been undertaking scholarly and artistic pursuits, with remarkable achievements and outstanding contributions in the whole field of the cultural sciences, including history, literature, language and lexicology, religion, philosophy, arts, as well as cultural relations between China and overseas. Professor Jao earned his reputation widely not only among his own generation, but also among the younger generations at home and abroad. Professor Jao is considered one of the most renowned giants in traditional Chinese literature of our time, with equal excellence in pre-Tang poetry, quatrain and octal. He is a particular expert in ci (a form of poetry) and master of all genres of classical prose, including saoti (verses in sao style), fu (prose-poem), pianwen (parallel prose) and sanwen (free prose). All these overwhelming skills make Professor Jao unparalleled in the Chinese literary arena of this age. Professor Jao is also an exceptional artist who acquires and establishes calligraphy, landscape and figure paintings of his own discipline. Professor Jao’s interests extend to as far as the musical world, with particular involvement in guqin (ancient Chinese Zither). With trio competence in literature, arts and academics, Professor Jao is indeed a rare personage in Macao, Hong Kong and mainland China in this contemporary era.
In the academic and cultural arenas, Professor Jao received numerous prestigious awards and honours, such as the Prix Stanislas Julien by College de France, Academician of the Ecole francaise d'Extreme Orient in France, Honorary Member of the Societe Asiatique in Paris and Academician of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences in Russia. He also received honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters or Doctor of Humanities from the following universities: The University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University, The Open University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, University of Macau, Soka University in Japan, University of Tasmania in Australia, and Shandong University. Professor Jao is also the first Chinese to receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from École Pratique des Hautes Études.
Other awards include the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture of France, the Life Achievement Award from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Grand Bauhinia Medal from the Hong Kong S.A.R. Government, the Award of Special Contributions to the Protection and Research on Dunhuang Relics from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China and the Gansu Provincial People's Government, the Lifetime Achievement Award in the 1st China Arts and Literature Award Ceremony by the Chinese National Academy of Arts, the 2nd World China Studies Contribution Award from the World Forum on China Studies, the Chen Yinke Award from the Sun Yat-sen University and the 3rd China Light - the Dissemination of Chinese Culture Person of the Year by the China Central Television of Beijing.
In order to pay tribute to Professor Jao’s significant merits and his great devotion to the proliferation of Chinese culture and even the development of human culture, the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing denominated a minor planet, numbered 10017, as “Jaotsungi” in 2011.
Professor Jao is now the Fellow of Central Research Institute of Culture and History, the Associate Foreign Member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres of the Institut de France, the 7th President of Xiling Seal Art Society, the Inaugural University Laureate of The University of Hong Kong, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Honorary Professor of the Institute of Chinese Studies, and Wei Lun Chair Professor of Fine Arts in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is also an honorary professor and consulting scholar in many prestigious institutes including The University of Hong Kong, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, Fudan University, Sun Yat-sen University, Huaqiao University, Yunnan University and East China Normal University. Other titles include Honorary Director of Tianyige Museum in Ningbo, and Honorary President of Sinology Studies College in Heilongjiang University.
(By courtesy of Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole, The University of Hong Kong)