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The Shigu Academy (Shigu shuyuan 石鼓書院)

Mar 11, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

The Stone Drum Academy (Shigu shuyuan 石鼓書院), also called Academy of Cultivated Talent Li (Li Xiucai shuyuan 李秀才書院), was one the the early Song period 宋 (960-1279) academies. The remains are to be found at the foot of Mt. Shigu 石鼓山 near Hengyang 衡陽, Hunan.

During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) there was a Daoist shrine in this place called Xungu Temple 尋真觀. Li Kuan 李寬 (called Li Xiucai, xiucai meaning metropolitan graduate) used this place to do his studies. In 997 Li Shizhen 李士真 erected a first school building on the site where Li Kuan's dwellings had been. In 1035 prefect (zhizhou 知州) Liu Yuan 劉沅 submitted a memorial to the throne and asked that Emperor Renzong 宋仁宗 (r. 1022-1063) might grant the academy official status, present it a name board, and some land the income of which could serve to fund the school. The court agreed, and the Shigu Academy became one of the four great academies of the Song period (sometimes the Songyang Academy 嵩陽書院 is included in this number instead). In 1185 the buildings were renovated, but the school was destroyed by a fire in 1259.

During the Chunxi reign 淳熙 (1174-1189) of the Southern Song 南宋 (1127-1279), judicional commissioner (tixing 提刑) Song Ruoshui 宋若水 asked the great master Zhu Xi 朱熹 to compile statutes for the Academy, the Hengzhou Shigu shuyuan ji 衡州石鼓書院記, in which clear regulations were laid for the procedures of the courses and the examinations. At that time Dai Xi 戴溪 was director (shanzhang 山長) of the Academy. He instructed his students in the Classic Lunyu 論語 "Confucian Analects", and the results of the discourse in the lectures was written down and compiled as Shigu Lunyu wenda 石鼓論語問答. Director Lin Geng 林畊 compiled a vast commentary to the Classic Shangshu 尚書 "Book of Documents" called Shangshu quanjie 尚書全解.

During the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) the Academy was not opened to the public, and the buildings were again destroyed before the foundation of the Ming empire 明 (1368-1644). The most important Yuan period directors were Deng Daren 鄧大任, Wang Fu 王複, Kang Zhuang 康莊 and Cheng Jingzhi 程敬直.

In 1413 prefect Shi Zhong 史中 rebuilt the school, which served as an educational place for wandering students. The complex was enlarged by Cai Runan 蔡汝楠 in 1549, and again in 1612. Zhen Ruoshui 湛若水 once came to the school as a visiting professor. Director Zhao Dazhou 趙大州 compiled new guidelines (guiyue 規約) for the school, in which he gave instructions to learning and teaching, and to the curriculum. He had also printed the proceedings Heng-Xiang wenbian 衡湘問辨 and Daji wenda 大極問答.

Under the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911), governor (xunfu 巡撫) Yuan Langyu 袁廊宇 asked the imperial court for supporting the refounding of the Academy, as a public institution. In 1668 prefect Zhang Qixun 張奇勳 enlarged the new school. The most important directors during the Qing period were Chen Shiya 陳士雅, Luo Ying 羅瑛 and Liu Zuhuan 劉祖煥. There are three different prints of a local gazetteer surviving, all with the title of Shigu shuyuan zhi 石鼓書院志. At the end of the Qing period the Shigu Academy was transformed into a middle school (zhongxuetang 中學堂) and was soon called Nanlu Normal University (Nanlu shifan xuetang 南路師範學堂).

Source:
Zhao Jiayi 趙家驥 (1996). "Shigu shuyuan 石鼓書院", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, ed. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 993.