Hanlin Academy

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Hanlin Academy
翰林院
Hanlin Academy cropped.jpg
Active Tang dynasty, reign of Emperor Xuanzong–1911
Founder Emperor Xuanzong
Location
Hanlin Academy
Chinese 翰林院

The Hanlin Academy was an academic and administrative institution founded in the eighth-century Tang China by Emperor Xuanzong in Chang'an.

Contents

Membership in the academy was confined to an elite group of scholars, who performed secretarial and literary tasks for the court. One of its main duties was to decide on an interpretation of the Chinese classics. This formed the basis of the Imperial examinations, which aspiring bureaucrats had to pass to attain higher level posts. Painters working for the court were also attached to the academy.

Academy members

Some of the more famous academicians of Hanlin were:

Bureau of Translators

Subordinated to the Hanlin Academy was the Bureau of Translators (Chinese :四夷館/四译館; pinyin :Sìyí Guǎn/Sìyì Guǎn; Wade–Giles :Szu4-i2 Kuan3/Szu4-i4 Kuan3). [1] Founded by the Ming dynasty in 1407, after the first expedition of Zheng He to the Indian Ocean, the Bureau dealt with the memorials delivered by foreign ambassadors and trained foreign language specialists. It included departments for many languages [2] such as the Jurchen, [3] [4] [5] "Tartar" (Mongol), [6] [7] [8] [9] Korean, [10] Ryukyuan, Japanese, [11] [12] Tibetan, [13] "Huihui" (the "Muslim" language, Persian) [14] [15] [6] [16] [17] [18] Vietnamese [19] and Burmese languages, [19] [20] as well as for the languages of the "various barbarian tribes" (Bai yi 百夷, i.e., Shan ethnic groups on China's southwestern borders), "Gaochang" (people of Turfan, i.e. Old Uyghur language), [6] [17] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] and Xitian (西天; (Sanskrit, spoken in India). In 1511 and 1579 departments for the languages of Ba bai (八百; Lao) and Thai were added, respectively. [26] A Malay language vocabulary (Manlajia Guan Yiyu) 滿剌加館譯語 (Words-list of Melaka Kingdom) for the Malay spoken in the Malacca Sultanate was compiled. [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] A Cham language vocabulary 占城館 was created for the language spoken in the Champa Kingdom. [32] [33]

When the Qing dynasty revived the Ming Siyiguan 四夷館, the Manchus, who "were sensitive to references to barbarians", changed the name from yi 夷 "barbarian" to yi 彝 "Yi people", and changed the Shan exonym from Baiyi 百夷 "hundred barbarians" to Baiyi 百譯 "hundred translations". [34]

The later Tongwen Guan set up by the Qing dynasty for translating western languages was subordinated to the Zongli Yamen and not the Hanlin.

1900 fire

The Hanlin Academy in 1744, after a renovation under the Qianlong Emperor Hanlin Academy cropped.jpg
The Hanlin Academy in 1744, after a renovation under the Qianlong Emperor

The Beijing Hanlin Academy and its library were severely damaged in a fire during the siege of the Foreign Legations in Peking (now known as Beijing) in 1900 by the Kansu Braves while fighting against the Eight-Nation Alliance. On June 24, the fire spread to the Academy:

The old buildings burned like tinder with a roar which drowned the steady rattle of musketry as Tung Fu-shiang's Moslems fired wildly through the smoke from upper windows.

Some of the incendiaries were shot down, but the buildings were an inferno and the old trees standing round them blazed like torches.

An attempt was made to save the famous Yung Lo Ta Tien, but heaps of volumes had been destroyed, so the attempt was given up.

eyewitness Lancelot Giles, son of Herbert Giles [35]

Many ancient texts were destroyed by the flames. [36]

The Academy operated continuously until its closure during the 1911 Xinhai Revolution.

See also

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References

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Further reading

Foreign language vocabularies