Chen Yuan 陳垣

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Chén Yuán 陳垣 (1880-1971)
Chén Yuán 陳垣
  • Style name 號:Yuán'ān 圓庵
  • Courtesy name 字: Yuán'ān 援庵
  • Pen names 筆名: Qiānyì 謙益; Qiányīng 錢罌; and others
  • Student name 學名: Xīngfān 星藩
  • Born November 12, 1880 in Xīnhuì county 新會縣, Guǎngdōng 廣東
  • Died June 21, 1971

Chén Yuán 陳垣 (1880-1971) was a founding figure in the history of religion in China, author of several studies on Chinese Buddhism, and a former head of Fǔrén University 輔仁大學.



Chén received a classical education as a child but failed to pass the civil service exams. In 1905 he established Shíshì huàbào 時事畫報 (The Illustrated Times) in Guǎngzhōu 廣州, and two years later entered a medical school. After the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911 he was selected as a representative to the National Assembly 國會 in Běijīng 北京. In 1919 he became a Protestant Christian, and in 1921 became vice-minister of the Ministry of Education, but soon left to pursue scholarship, gaining fame as a historian with his Yuán yělǐkěwēn kǎo 元也里可溫考 (Investigation into Christianity during the Yuan Dynasty), written in 1917 and later published by Commercial Press 商務印書館 in 1923.

In 1911 Chén had helped Mǎ Xiàngbó 馬相伯 and Yīng Liǎnzhī 英斂之 establish a Catholic University in Běijīng. The school was founded in 1925 as Fǔrén shè 輔仁社, but when Yīng died the following year, Chén was asked to join as an administrator. After the school gained official status in 1929 as Fǔrén University 輔仁大學, Chén served as president.

After the establishment of the People's Republic, Chén was praised by Máo Zédōng 毛澤東 as a "national treasure". In 1952 he continued to serve as president when Fǔrén merged with Beijing Normal University 北京師範大學, and formally joined the Communist Party in 1959. Chén was put under house arrest during the Cultural Revolution, and died at home in 1971.

Important Works

Note that many of these works circulated in manuscript or article form before they were formally published.

  • Yuán yělǐkěwēn kǎo 元也里可溫考 (A Study of Christianity during the Yuán Dynasty). Shànghǎi 上海: Commercial Press 商務印書館, 1923.
  • Kāifēng Yícìlèyèjiào kǎo 開封一賜樂業教考 (A Study of Judaism in Kāifēng). Shànghǎi 上海: Commercial Press 商務印書館, 1923.
  • Dūnhuáng jiéyú lù 敦煌劫餘錄 (Record of Dūnhuáng Remains). Publications of Academia Sinica Institute for History and Philology 國立中央研究院史語言研究所專刊. Běijīng 北京: Academia Sinica Institute for History and Philology 國立中央研究院史語言研究所, 1930.
  • Qīngchū sēngzhèng jì 清初僧諍記 (Record of Monastic Criticisms in the Early Qīng). Běipíng 北平: Lìyún shūwū 勵耘書屋, 1934-1944.
  • Shìshì yínián lù 釋氏疑年錄. (Record of Suspect Dates for Buddhist Monks). Běipíng 北平: Fǔrén University 輔仁大學, 1939.
  • Míngmò Diān Qián Fójiào kǎo 明季滇黔佛教考 (A Study of Buddhism in Yǔnnán and Guìzhōu in the Late Míng). Fǔrén University Collectanea 輔仁大學叢書. Běipíng 北平: Fǔrén University 輔仁大學, 1940.
  • Zhōngguó Fójiào shǐjí gàilùn 中國佛教史籍概論 (General Treatise on Historical Materials of Chinese Buddhism). 1942.



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