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In: T'oung Pao
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From prehistoric bone flutes to Confucian bell-sets, from ancient divination to his beloved qin, this book presents translations of thirteen seminal essays on musical subjects by Jao Tsung-i. In language as elegant and refined as the ancient texts he so admired, his journey takes readers through Buddhist incantation, the philosophy of musical instruments, acoustical numerology, lyric poetry, historical and sociological contexts, manuscript studies, dance choreography, repertoire formulation, and opera texts. His voice is authoritative and intimate, the expert crafting his arguments, both accessible and sophisticated, succinct and richly tapestried; and concealed within a deft modesty is a thinker privileging us with his most profound observation. The musician’s musician, the scholar’s scholar, bold yet cautious, flamboyant yet restrained, a man for all seasons, a harmoniousness of time and place.
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The articles assembled in this volume present an important selection of Professor Jao Tsung-i’s research in the field of the early Chinese intellectual tradition, especially as it concerns the human condition. Whether his focus is on myth, religion, philosophy or morals, Jao consistently aims to describe how the series of developments broadly associated with the Axial Age unfolded in China. He is particularly interested in showing how early China had developed its own notion of transcendence as well as a system of prediction and morals that enabled man to act autonomously, without recourse to divine providence.
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Dunhuang: China’s traditional northwest frontier and overland conduit of exchange with the Old World. Jao Tsung-i: China’s last great traditional man of letters, polymath, and pioneer of comparative humanistic inquiry during Hong Kong’s global heyday. Jao and Dunhuang had a special relationship that this book makes accessible in English for the first time. Inside, Jao proposes an entirely new school of Chinese landscape painting, reconsiders Dunhuang’s oldest manuscripts as its newest research field, and explores topics ranging from comparative religion to medieval multimedia.
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This work is a translation of the Xiang'er commentary to the Daodejing and Jao Tsung-i's (1917-2018) supplemental notes and analysis. Jao Tsung-i offers a historically and hermeneutically rich study of the Xiang’er Commentary, discovered in the Mogao caves at Dunhuang in the final years of the Qing Dynasty, and its author Zhang Daoling. Opening a new and fascinating window into the early reception of the Daodejing, Jao Tsung-i also uncovers the important influence texts such as the Scripture of Great Peace (Taiping jing) had on Celestial Masters Daoism and the construction of the Xiang'er commentary.
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Abstract

The early genesis of musical compositions is often obscure, the more so the qin with its history of several thousand years. This paper takes important qin pieces whose titles and musical content express the flavour of Buddhist incantations and traces their origin from the very earliest days when Sanskrit texts first entered China to the subsequent dissemination of these documents and the role that the Song dynasty Chan Buddhist master Pu’an played in the process. The pivotal moment is the late Ming dynasty when the evolution of incantation into qin composition occurred, and mention of resultant incantatory elements present in the music is also made. An important undertone throughout is relish in the persistence of a pervasive underlying influence of Sanskrit-derived Buddhist text in Chinese culture.

Open Access
In: Harmoniousness: Essays in Chinese Musicology
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With its multiplicity of short-lived states, the political history of the period between the Tang and Song dynasties in the tenth century is both confusing and convoluted. This essay makes sense of this background in order to give a context to the pipa scores found in Dunhuang that constitute some of the most important early musical notations that survive. The principal sources that Jao Tsung-i deploys are the Dunhuang manuscripts themselves with which he was evidently intimately familiar. To add contemporary drama to his narrative, a strong subtext is acerbic dissection of opinions on the topic put forward by fellow scholar He Changlin 何昌林.

Open Access
In: Harmoniousness: Essays in Chinese Musicology
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This essay explains in detail ancient calculations performed in relation to bell tunings and the views of different authorities on them. Scientific and mathematical in its layout, it illustrates common features and recognises anomalies. Starting with the inscriptions on the bells in the Marquis Yi of Zeng’s tomb and their particular Chu nomenclature, the discussion moves swiftly into more familiar citational territory. The key Han dynasty scholarly triumvirate of Liu An 劉安, Jing Fang 京房, and Liu Xin 劉歆 emerges, but Qin bamboo slips excavated at Fangmatan and Ming dynasty Zhu Zaiyu 朱載堉 lend verve and veracity to both ends of the chronology. Later portions of the essay list seminal texts, glossed with critical analysis of their location in the canon.

Open Access
In: Harmoniousness: Essays in Chinese Musicology
In: Harmoniousness: Essays in Chinese Musicology
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Abstract

Sandwiched between the Tang and Song dynasties, the early tenth century was an unstable and pivotal epoch as short-lived regimes vied unsuccessfully for overall long-term control. From a musical perspective, two trends dominate and form the prevailing undercurrents of all subsequent developments: one is a search for genuine ancient musical practice and its implementation as an aspect of the consolidation of dynastic legitimacy; the other is the emergence and documentation of vernacular musical styles in keeping with the rise of an urban commercial class. This article examines both threads as well as the leeching of musical material between them.

Open Access
In: Harmoniousness: Essays in Chinese Musicology