Biography

SAUMA Rabban (Lièbān Sǎomǎ 列班扫马)

Peter C. PERDUE Less well-known than his contemporary Marco Polo, Rabban Sauma was a Christian Uygur monk who traveled in the opposite direction as Polo, from China to western Europe. In France he presented to the king a proposal by the Mongol governor of Baghdad to form a Mongol-Christian alliance to recover Jerusalem from the Muslims. The alliance never materialized. […]

Mozi (Mòzǐ 墨子)

James D. SELLMANN The philosopher Mozi and the school he founded offered a popular alternative to Confucian teachings. Mozi was unique among ancient philosophers in his belief that if an idea has been handed down from the ancient sages but does not benefit the people, it should be rejected. The philosopher Mozi (Master Mo) was born in the state of […]

GU Yanwu (Gù Yánwǔ 顧炎武)

Yamin XU As a founding father of the school of Evidential Inquiry, Gu Yanwu abandoned the approaches of the Song and Ming neo-Confucianists and replaced them with a strong emphasis on scholarly textual criticism favored by Han dynasty scholars. Gu opened the path to a renaissance of studying the ancient Chinese classics, as well as advancing practical studies to deal […]

Dalai Lama (Dálài Lǎma 达赖喇嘛)

Dalai Lama (Dálài Lǎma 达赖喇嘛)

Alex McKAY Tenzin Gyatso (b. 1935), the fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetan Buddhists. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetan Buddhists. The present Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the fourteenth in a line of succession. He leads a Tibetan government-in-exile in India and is a spokesman for nonviolence and Buddhist […]

Xunzi (Xúnzǐ 荀子)

Xunzi (Xúnzǐ 荀子)

Nirmal DASS Painting of Xunxi, one of the most important Confucian thinkers. A key figure in Chinese philosophy, Xunzi is best known for his critique of Mencius’ concept of the essential goodness of humankind and for moving beyond Confucian ideals. For Xunzi, a rigid hierarchical social structure constrained by tradition, moral education, and threat of punishment is the necessary antidote […]

JIAN Zhen (Jiànzhēn 鉴真)

JIAN Zhen (Jiànzhēn 鉴真)

Nirmal DASS Historical illustration of Buddhist monks at worship, a scene that would have been familiar to Jian Zhen, a monk who traveled to Japan to propagate Buddhism. The school of Buddhism that Jian Zhen followed and preached was the Ritsu rite, which focused on the discipline of monasticism. Jian Zhen, a Buddhist monk who did much to bring Buddhism […]

VERBIEST, Father Ferdinand (Nán Huáirén 南怀仁)

VERBIEST, Father Ferdinand (Nán Huáirén 南怀仁)

Nirmal DASS Father Ferdinand Verbiest, from the manuscript Galerie illustrée de portraits de jésuites, by A. Hamy, 1893. One of a number of Jesuit missionaries who were sent to China from Rome in the seventeenth century, Father Ferdinand Verbiest was befriended by the K’ang-shi emperor and became one of the foremost astronomers and scientists in China. Father Ferdinand Verbiest was […]

Kumarajiva (Jiūmóluóshí 鸠摩罗什)

Kumarajiva (Jiūmóluóshí 鸠摩罗什)

Nirmal DASS Kumarajiva translated Budhist texts at the White Horse Temple in Luoyang, China. PHOTO BY FANGHONG. Kumarajiva translated into Chinese about one hundred Mahayana Buddhist texts written in Prakit and Sanskrit. Kumarajiva may be credited with bringing to China the critical texts of Mahayana Buddhism by way of his translation into Chinese of previously unavailable Prakit and Sanskrit works. […]

STUART, John Leighton (Sītú Léidēng 司徒雷登)

STUART, John Leighton (Sītú Léidēng 司徒雷登)

Nirmal DASS John Leighton Stuart, one of the United States’ most prolific diplomats in the pre-1949 period. John Leighton Stuart was an American missionary born in China. He was the founder and first president of Yenching University in Beijing and also served as the U.S. ambassador to China just before the Communist takeover. He was famously derided by Mao Zedong […]

ZHU Xi (Zhū Xī 朱熹)

ZHU Xi (Zhū Xī 朱熹)

Bryan W. VAN NORDEN Zhu Xi’s writings on neo-Confucianism became the foundation of China’s civil service exams for nearly six hundred years, and thus were the focus of study for generations of hopeful scholar-officials. Zhu Xi was perhaps the greatest neo-Confucian philosopher. His Collected Commentaries on the Four Books became the basis of the civil service examinations in 1315 until […]