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Four Great Academy of Classical Learning

Updated: 2014-11-28 16:56:28

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Chinese academy first emerged in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was popular in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It usually has three architectural characteristics: being located beside mountains or along rivers, featuring three architectural parts respectively for lecturing, book collecting and ritual performance, and boasting large quantities of inscriptions by famous man of letters. The Four Great Academies inChinaare:YueluAcademyinHunanProvince,BailudongAcademyinJiangxiProvince,SongyangAcademyinHenanProvinceandSuiyangAcademyinHenanProvince.


BailudongAcademy(WhiteDeerCaveAcademy) was the most famous of the four biggest academies in ancientChina, and enjoys high prestige in the Chinese history of education. The Bailudong (WhiteDeerCave) Academy, well preserved today, was the place where Li Bo (773-831), a famous scholar of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), studied and lived. The academy was developed by Zhu Xi (1130-1200), a scholar of Neo-Confucianism during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and enjoyed fame as an important educational center for feudal Chinese culture for several hundred years.


The Yuelu Academy of Classical Learning, one of the oldest academies inChina, is located on the eastern foot ofYueluMountainsinChangsha,HunanProvince. It was established in the 976 during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) with the funds from the government. At its prime period when Zhuxi, a famous neo-Confucian in the Song Dynasty, gave lectures here, its students accounted about 1,000. The academy existed through the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and was transferred to Hunan Institute of Higher Learning in 1903. After the Revolution of 1911, it became the Hunan Higher Learning Normal School and in 1926, officially namedHunanUniversity. Serving as an institute for 1,000 years, theYueluAcademyis honored as a "One-thousand-year-old Academic Institution".

Zhu Xi and Zhang Shi, both well known Confucian scholars lectured at the academy. In 1903, the academy became a university and in 1925,HunanUniversitywas established at this site. The traditional architecture and calligraphy inscriptions found throughout the grounds attest to the historical and cultural importance of this center of learning.


Located at the foot of Mt. Songshan 80 km away from the southwest ofZhengzhou, theSongyangAcademywas firstly built in the 8th year (484) of Emperor Taihe's reign of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534).

TheSongyangAcademyis the famous higher college for its Confucian philosophy in ancientChina. In the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the masters Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi, who are good at Confucianism, had given lectures in the academy. Besides, Sima Guang, Fan Zhongyan, Han Wei, Li Gang, Zhu Xi and Lu Hui of the same period had also given lectures here.

The building of the academy is old and elegant. There are over 100 rooms covering more than 10,000 square meters. The center axis consists of 5-yard groups. At the west side, there are two high and old cypresses named Great General and Second General, they are the oldest cypresses with over 4,000 years of history. At the southwestern side of the academy gate stands a Tang Tablet, erected in 744 of the Tang Dynasty (618-907); it is the largest stele in Henan Province and famous in Chinese handwriting history.


The ancient site of theSuiyangAcademywas located in today'sShangqiuCountyinHenanProvince. It has long been destroyed.

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