The bold strokes of calligraphy, the discreet beauty of water lily paintings, the indelible ink composition of wild pine, cypress and a simple yet thought-provoking poem... Wandering from one exhibition room to another, ascending a majestic staircase from one floor to another, you find yourself drawn deep into the Jao Tsung-I Academy Macau, named after the contemporary sinology scholar, artist, and recipient of the Order of Arts and Letters of France’s Ministry of Culture. A new site developed on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the inscription of The Historic Centre of Macau on the World Heritage List, the Academy is now open for visits.
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Chinese music performance at the Jao Tsung-I Academy Macau
Just off Tap Seac Square is a series of Portuguese bordeaux and yellow buildings, adjacent to the Macau Central Library. Number 95, formerly a residential building, is where the Jao Tsung-I Academy is located. The neoclassical edifice, constructed in 1921, is still in an excellent state of preservation, and it was declared a protected heritage in 1984 for its strikingly original arch-and-column façade and its generally sound architectural conditions.
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Inside the Academy
1984 was also an important date for Professor Jao. That year, he set up the department of Chinese literature and history for the University of Macau’s graduate school, establishing a foundation not only for furthering related studies, but also cultural exchange. Professor Jao donated 30 of his calligraphies and paintings to the Museum of Art Macau's permanent collection in 2011, then another 160 artworks and academic pieces to the city in 2013.
But you don’t have to be an expert in Chinese studies nor an avid art collector to appreciate Professor Jao’s works. Come to see beautifully restored architectural features, such as the elaborate studs, latticework and the serene courtyard. Listen to a session of live Chinese chamber music showcasing ancient instruments like the pipa, erhu and the guzheng.
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Jao Tsung-I, 'Golden lotus with silver leaves with five-character couplet,' 2013, courtesy of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government
Now 99 years old, Professor Jao has witnessed perhaps the most dramatic century in the history of Hong Kong and Macau in their transformations from colonial fishing villages to international hubs. Throughout wartime and modern economic growth, his writings have served as valuable archives and a vivid reminder of the importance of preserving and promoting Chinese art and culture in all their dynamic forms.
The pride and joy of the professor and for all those who love Macau’s unique European and Chinese identity, the Jao Tsung-I Academy is not only dedicated to sinology, but it is also an eye-opening experience in The Historic Centre of Macau.
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