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Temples and Religious Communities in Beijing, Imperial Capital from the 13th to the 20th century

par Lemardelé Élise - publié le

Responsables : Marianne Bujard

Disciplines Religious History and Epigraphy

Participants :

Full members

Françoise Wang-Toutain, Pierre Marsone


Luca Gabbiani (EFEO - CECMC, UMR 8173), Vincent Goossaert (EPHE - GSRL), Ju Xi (Beijing Normal University - Sociology Institute Religious Anthropology), Luo Wenhua (Palace Museum Research Center for Tibetan Buddhist Heritage), Wen Ming (Palace Museum Research Center for Tibetan Buddhist Heritage), Ma Yunhua (Palace Museum Research Center for Tibetan Buddhist Heritage), Guan Xiaojing (Institute of Manchu Studies), Wang Minqing (Institute of Literature - Buddhist texts and iconography), Wang Nan (Tsinghua University - School of Architecture), Wang Jun (Agence Chine Nouvelle)

Post-doctoral students

Xie Lingqiong (CECMC, UMR 8173), Wang Huayan (CECMC-CCJ, UMR 8173 )

Ph.D. Candidates

Lei Yang (EPHE - GSRL)


The “Temples and Religious Communities in Beijing, Imperial Capital from the 13th to the 20th century” project focuses on the circumstances of the coexistence of several distinct communities belonging to different religious and cultural traditions in a unified and central space, Beijing, the imperial capital for seven centuries. Examining the socio-religious structures of the city and the emperor’s role in it will shed light on the nature and functioning of what can be called a true religious pluralism, or even a regime of tolerance. Far from being a simple survey disconnected from contemporary realities, this research project aims to provide analytic tools that will improve our understanding of the challenges posed by the on-going crisis of nation-states in Europe and the cohabitation of populations with different and often conflicting cultural and religious backgrounds. The project brings together French researchers and PhD candidates from the EPHE, EHESS, EFEO and CNRS and their Chinese counterparts from several research institutions and universities who have been working together for more than ten years.

Scientific output and scientific activities

a. This project follows on from the “Epigraphy and Oral Memory of the Temples of Beijing : A Social History of an Imperial Capital” project, initiated in 2004 at the EFEO. Documentation of 1,500 temples of the city of Beijing and more than 600 commemorative inscriptions was brought together by a Franco-Chinese team. Supplemented by field surveys and the examination of imperial and republican archives as well as literary works, this material provides the basis for a long-term publication (eleven volumes) dedicated to the temples of Beijing and their history. Volume 4 (in two parts) is in press (1000 pages), volumes 5, 6 and 7 are being prepared and are to be published in 2018-2023.
b. The on-going field survey in Beijing brings together both Chinese and French teachers and students and provides a framework for training students through the Beijing EFEO Centre that will continue over the next few years.
c. The monthly seminar dedicated to the temple stelae of Beijing and bringing together about fifteen professors and students in Paris will continue its activity. The translation of the inscriptions will lead to the French-language publication of a compendium of epigraphic material in the Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, as well as a monograph on a Tibetan Buddhist imperial temple in Beijing that has been the subject of a long-term study : the Huguosi.
d. An international symposium entitled Sovereignty and Religious Patronage in Eastern Asia (XIII-XXth Century) will be organized in Beijing on October 25-27, 2018 by the Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes, the Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient and the Palace Museum Research Centre for Tibetan Buddhist Heritage. Bringing together some thirty European, Chinese and American participants, it will lead to the publication of the proceedings in 2020.