Chinese bronze inscriptions and early Chinese culture and classics, Thu 18 April @6pm

Join us for the second lecture in our 2019 Distinguished Lecture Series when Professor Chen Zhi will give his lecture on Newly discovered bronze inscriptions of the late Shang and early Zhou dynasties and their significance for our understanding of early Chinese culture and classics

Chinese Bronze inscriptions first appeared in the Shang dynasty (17th-11th century B.C.); during the Zhou dynasty, the numbers of bronze ritual vessels with inscriptions increased exponentially. The Zhou bronze inscriptions extended to hundreds of characters. The contents mainly include eulogies of the Zhou ancestors and kings as well as historical records, which help us to fill significant gaps in our knowledge of Chinese history from late Shang through the Western Zhou dynasty (11th century-771 B.C.).

Focusing on recently discovered 11th century B.C. bronze vessels, Prof. Chen Zhi will lead the audience in reading the inscriptions to demonstrate the importance of these excavated texts as sources that require close reading. He will also re-interpret some of the texts of the transmitted Chinese Confucian classics, such as the Book of Odes, the Book of Documents, the Books of Etiquettes, based on the cross-references with these inscriptional documents.

One of these two bronze vessels, Ziyun Fuyi you (子㽙父乙卣), excavated from the tomb of Marquis of Haihun 海昏 (92-59 B.C.) of Western Han, apparently was a late Shang antique among the collection of the ill-fated monarch. The other Late Shang bronze Fu zun (婦尊) appeared on the antique market of Hong Kong in 2013. The content of the inscriptions on the Fu zun is about a royal wedding of a Shang King, possibly the notorious last ruler Zhou 紂 and one of his concubines.

Prof Chen will illustrate how the linguistic features of these inscriptional texts, such as the personal names of the Shang nobles, the terms of musical performance and instruments, and mentions of the sacrifices and etiquettes, etc can be analyzed to further our understanding of China’s ancient past.

Professor Chen Zhi holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Peking University and a M. Phil in Chinese Literature from Nanjing University. He also has a PhD degree in Chinese studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA. Professor Chen started his teaching at National University of Singapore, Middlebury College and the UW-Madison. He joined HKBU in 2000, and served as Acting Dean of Arts, Chair Professor in Chinese Literature and the founding Director of the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology. Currently he is concurrently appointed to the Vice President in Academic Affairs of BNU-HKBU United International College (UIC) at Zhuhai.

Professor Chen’s research interests lie in the areas of Chinese classics, bronze inscriptions, and ancient history of China. His publications include The Legacy of the Odes, Documents, Ritual Music (Chinese); The Shaping of the Book of Songs: From Ritualization to Secularization (English), Papers on Interdisciplinary Study of the Book of Odes (Chinese). He also has had dozens of papers in Chinese and English published in China, Taiwan, Europe and USA. Professor Chen is the editor of the Early China Book Series (Shanghai Classics), founding Chief Editor of the Bulletin of the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology (Chung Hwa), the founding Editor of the Jao Tsung-I Library of Sinology (De Gruyter), and the founding Associate Editor of Journal of Early Chinese Philosophers (Shanghai Classics).

Date: Thursday, 18 April 2019

Time: 6pm – 7:30pm.

Location: Confucius Institute for Scotland, Abden House, 1 Marchhall Crescent, Edinburgh. EH16 5HP

A drinks reception follows after the lecture and Q&A.

All Welcome. Booking is required!