Tomoyasu Iiyama - Adjunct Researcher, Waseda Institute for Advanced Study
In the history of epigraphic study in China, which traces its history back to the eleventh century or much earlier, the 1980s was undisputedly one of the pivotal turning points. The influx of young aspiring scholars to the post-Cultural Revolution Chinese academia, who enthusiastically conducted extensive fieldwork across China to uncover epitaphs, sculptures, and other forms of stele inscriptions, marked a new phase in the scholarship of Chinese history. Their plentiful findings led to the publication of hundreds of new epigraphic collections since the 1990s, which ushered in the emergence of a group of scholars working on social history (mostly during the late imperial period) mainly based on epigraphic sources. This talk aims to provide those who plan to conduct an epigraphic field research in North China with the basic knowledge concerning the way to locate and understand the current condition of the steles, preparatory works in library, social and historical contexts behind the extant steles, and the copyright issue of stele inscription. In doing so, it also discusses the ongoing changes in epigraphic research in mainland China, such as the new Cultural Relic Preservation policy and its influence, the recent emergence of private museums as a major body of stele collectors, and the rise of extensive stele transcription projects at major universities. The changes collectively appear to be heralding in a new phase of epigraphic field trip, which may requires us of a different approach to epigraphic sources.
Tomoyasu Iiyama is an Adjunct Researcher at Waseda Institute for Advanced Study, Tokyo, Japan, who has worked on northern Chinese social history during the Jin-Yuan-Ming and published Northern Local Literati: Civil Service Examination and Its Social Influence in North China, 1127-1368 (in Japanese) in 2011.