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"A Passage to Jao Tsung-i" exhibition opens with 200 precious exhibits

“A Passage to Jao Tsung-i — Fusion of Art and Scholarship” exhibition opened today (December 13) at the Exhibition Hall of Hong Kong Central Library. More than 200 precious items of the renowned scholar’s works, paintings, calligraphy, poetry, manuscripts, letters, photos, his rare book collections and qin collections are on display to showcase Professor Jao’s brilliant achievements in various academic fields, literature and art.

Officiating at the opening ceremony were the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang; the Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Professor Xu Jialu; the Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, Mr Gao Siren; the Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Mr Li Gang; the Director of the Palace Museum, Beijing, Mr Zheng Xinmiao; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho; Professor Jao Tsung-i; Mr Li Ka-shing; the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong, Professor Lap-chee Tsui; the Acting Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mr Chung Ling-hoi; the Director of Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole of The University of Hong Kong, Professor CF Lee; representative of “Lim Por Yen Academic Fund” of The University of Hong Kong, Mr Peter Lam Kin-ngor; and Presidents of Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole Fan Club, Mr Chan Wai-nam, Mr Simon Suen, Mr Gabriel Yu and Ms Ko Pui-shuen.

The exhibition, part of a series of activities to celebrate the 90th birthday of Professor Jao, is jointly presented by the Hong Kong Public Libraries of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole of The University of Hong Kong.

The exhibition is categorised into: “Painting and Calligraphy”, “The Wisdom Path” and “His Academic Research and Daily Life”. It will run from tomorrow (December 14) to January 4, 2007. Admission is free.

As a renowned contemporary sinologist and world-acclaimed artist, Professor Jao has spent more than 70 years in academic research and artistic creation. A versatile scholar, poet, calligrapher and painter, he has contributed to every field of humanities including archaeology, literature, ancient history, paleography, philosophy, fine arts and musicology. Even at the age of 90, he is still energetic and active in art creation and academic research.

Professor Jao has created his own style of painting and calligraphy. His calligraphy exhibits a unique quality with reference to inscriptions on tombstones of Han, Northern Wei and Tang Dynasty as well as manuscripts of Song and Late Ming Dynasty.

In the area of painting, he draws on the brush and ink technique of the great masters. He travels extensively to sketch nature. His figure painting connotes the inspiration of Dunhuang caves while his flower and bird painting evolves distinctively with a flavour of his own.

About 50 exquisite pieces are included in the “Painting and Calligraphy” section. Works include “Landscape in Rain”, “Avalokitesvara under Purple Bamboo”, “Lotus on Silver Water”, “Buddha in Gold-line Sketch Style”, “Sixth Patriarch” and “Four-character Couplet in Seal Script”.

One of Professor Jao’s masterpieces was his calligraphic work of “Heart Sutra”. Set in the form of a figure eight, symbolising infinity, a copy of the professor’s “Heart Sutra” will be presented together in the exhibition with photographs of the impression of “Heart Sutra” by a French photographer Paul Maurer.

Professor Jao completed his father’s academic work “A History of Literature and Arts of Chaozou” at the age of 16 and his work “The Geography of Chuci”, in 1946 made him famous.

He devoted a great deal of time and effort to teaching at The University of Hong Kong (1952-1968), the National University of Singapore (1968-1973) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1973-1978). Simultaneously, he was involved in various scopes of academic research with inspiring achievements in oracle bone inscriptions, Dunhuang studies, Confucian classics studies, musicology, religious studies, Chuci, historiography, history of East and West cultural exchange and others. His pioneering spirit evokes numerous new directions of studies for latecomers.

Professor Jao is closely connected to many scholars overseas and has been lecturing in Japan, India, France and the US. His achievements and extraordinary contributions have brought him numerous academic honours - the “Prix Stanislas Julien” from College de France, the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and Officier de L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture, France; the Award of Special Contributions to the Protection and Research on Dunhuang Relics from the Gansu Provincial People’s Government and the National Bureau of Relics, China as well as the Grand Cercis Chinensis Medal by the HKSAR Government.

Upon retirement in 1979, he continued his academic and research endeavors with remarkable achievements in various areas. In 2003, The University of Hong Kong established Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole with an objective of continuing the spirit of Jao. His major works including “The Xubaizhai Collection of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy”, “A Thorough Study on Diviners of the Yin Dynasty” and “Collected Works of Jao Tsung-i” were being published during this period.

Other than the prominent published works of different periods, the daily life of Professor Jao is revealed in his collection of literature, creation of arts and poetry and manipulation of Qin.

A pamphlet on Professor Jao and his works on display is available while two tie-in talks on his achievement, conducted in Cantonese, will be held on December 22 at 6.30pm and December 23 at 3pm at the Lecture Theatre of the Hong Kong Central Library.

For programme information, call 2921 0285 (Hong Kong Public Libraries) or 2241 5598 (Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole, The University of Hong Kong).

Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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