A New History of the White Deer Grotto Academy


The White Deer Grotto Academy, located at the foot of Wulou Peak in Lushan (now Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province), was one of the four great academies of China and flourished for eight centuries. It can be traced to Li Bo around 785‒804, during the Tang dynasty, who founded the academy as a place for the pursuit of learning. The name originated from the founder’s pet, a white deer. In 940, during the Southern Tang, an official school, called Lushan guo xue, was established, but later it changed its name to the White Deer Grotto Academy. It was Zhu Xi (1130‒1200), the Neo-Confucian, who rebuilt and expanded the academy in 1179. The academy’s functions were instruction, collection and preservation of books, religious sacrifices, the development of curricula, and lectures by famous scholars. Over the centuries, more than ten versions of the history of the academy were composed, up to the Kangxi reign (1662‒1722). This presentation is of a Jiajing edition (1522‒66) issued by Zhou Guang, based on the version written by Li Mengyang (1472‒1530), a Chinese poet and official, who was well known for his literary achievements and was an influential leading member of the so-called Seven Earlier Poets. One of Li Mengyang’s achievements was the restoration of the White Deer Grotto Academy and the compilation of a new history of the institution. This copy has added pages of some other writing, possibly by Zhou Guang, in a different typeface. One of the additions describes events happening after the 20th year of the Jiajing (1541), after the death of Li and probably also that of Zhou. The first preface, dated 1511, was written by Li Mengyang, with an additional note, dated 1513, and the second one was by Zhou Guang, dated 1525, in which he gives the names of persons who participated in the reissue of this work.

Last updated: January 10, 2018