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Individuals, Human Groups and Society in Early Medieval China

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Seal of the Gyalrong Kingdom, 18th century
The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove and Rong Qiqi, Southern Dynasties painted brick, discovered in 1960 in a tomb, Jiangsu province

Directors : François Martin † (EPHE), Damien Chaussende (CNRS)

Participants : Alexis Lycas (EPHE), Béatrice L’Haridon (Paris-Diderot), Catherine Despeux (INALCO), Chen Jianmei (Zhejiang University), Costantino Moretti (EPHE), Frédéric Obringer (EHESS), Jean-Pierre Drège (EPHE), Jean-Noël Robert (Collège de France), Pablo Blitstein (INALCO), Pan Junliang (EPHE), Pierre Marsone (EPHE), Pénélope Riboud (INALCO), Romain Graziani (ENS Lyon), Rainier Lanselle (Paris-Diderot), Shao Baoqing (Bordeaux 3), Sylvie Hureau (EPHE), Valérie Lavoix (INALCO), Zhang Huiming (post-doctoral student, CRCAO), Isabella Falaschi (Lille 3), Joachim Boittout (ENS Lyon)

The main purpose of this program is the creation of a biographical dictionary ; its originality lies in that it will focus not only on individuals but also on human groups.

This Dictionary of Individuals and Human Groups in Early Medieval China (tentative title) will consist of around five hundred entries and will cover the period from the disintegration of the Chinese empire at the end of the Han dynasty (2nd century) to its reconstitution under the Sui Dynasty (6th century). The majority of the entries will concern individuals. But its originality lies in that the dictionary will also include a certain number of general or thematic and more elaborate entries.

Entries relative to each emperor will provide a summary of their reign, thus the dictionary will also serve as a history textbook.

The user will thus be able to go from one entry to another and explore the period covered by the dictionary and related topics. In order to increase the dictionary’s appeal to a wider public, in addition to offering essential knowledge, it will also provide anecdotal content.

The dictionary will also feature detailed indexes as well as a selected bibliography.

The aim is to create a tool that combines serious documentation with pleasant reading. Early Medieval China presents a number of similarities with the contemporary period of the Roman Empire and the Barbarian Invasions —a period which is currently the object of renewed interest— thus the dictionary should be of use to all those who wish to further their knowledge of this rich period in Chinese history whether they be specialists in the field of Chinese studies or simply curious.

The first two years of the project (2010-2012) were devoted to establishing the entry list and style sheet ; 420 entries were completed by November ’15. The aim is to complete all the entries by 2016. 2016-2017 will be devoted to editing the work.
A number of public conferences in connection to the program have been organized since January 2012, in which the project’s participants gave lectures on different aspects of medieval Chinese history or culture :

- 27 January 2012 : François Martin, 
"Dynasty Changes in the Late Medieval Period"
- 17 February 2012 : Damien Chaussende
, "History and Historians in Early Medieval China"
- 29 mars 2012 : Romain Graziani
 "The Dangerous De-liaisons. Study of Xi Kang’s 嵇康 Break-off Letter to Shan Tao 山濤 (與山巨源絕交書)"
- 10 April 2012, Professor Michael Puett, guest speaker (Harvard) : "Sages, Interpretation, and Sources of Knowledge : Commentarial Practice in Early Medieval China"
- May 2012 : Pan Junliang, "The Master of Buddhist Incantations and Exorcism in Medieval China"
- 21 November 2012 : Sylvie Hureau, "
Buddhist Monks of the Six Dynasties period : Reflections on Huijiao’s Biographies of Eminent Monks"
- 30 May 2013 : Pablo Blitstein, "On the Question of Boundaries between the Official and Private Domains in Medieval China : Administrative Letters and Documents from the 5th to 7th century"

Downloadable documents :

notice brève 1 Liu Chuyu
notice brève 2 Yang Xuanzhi
notice moyenne 1 Yang Hu
notice moyenne 2 Sima Yi
notice longue Shen Yue
notice thématique 1 Maison de Wei
notice thématique 2 Huit princes