Jao Tsung-I (born August 9, 1917 in Chaozhou, Guangdong) is a Chinese scholar, poet, calligrapher and painter. A versatile scholar, he contributes to every field of humanities, including archaeology, literature, philology, musicology and history. Currently he lives in Hong Kong. He has two daughters.
Born into a wealthy family, he is largely an autodidact. He began to publish scholarly works at a young age. Later he was invited to work as lecturer and researcher at different colleges in mainland. He moved to Hong Kong in 1949. During the following years, he taught in the University of Hong Kong, while learning Sanskrit from the Indian diplomat and China expert V. V. Paranjpe, who in turn learnt ancient Chinese from Jao. In 1959, he published Yindai zhenbu renwu tongkao (殷代貞卜人物通考 "Oracle Bone Diviners of the Yin Dynasty"), which later earned him the Prix Stanislas Julien from the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
From 1963 onwards, he travelled to different countries to research and teach, including India, France, Singapore, United States and Japan. Currently he is the Wei Lun Honorary Professor of Fine Arts and Emeritus Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Many of his works are pioneering. For instance, he is the first scholar to render the Babylonian epic Enûma Elish into Chinese, after learning the Akkadian language from Jean Bottéro while he was a visiting scholar in Paris (see his work Jindong kaipi shishi 近東開闢史詩 "Creation Epic of the Near East"), and the first one to make a comparative study of the oracle bone script and the Indus script (see his essay Tan Yindu Hegu tuxing wenzi 談印度河谷圖形文字 "On the Indus Valley Pictorial Characters").
Yu Qiuyu (余秋雨), a popular writer in mainland, once said publicly that "with the presence of Jao Tsung-I, Hong Kong would not be a cultural desert", reacting to the common opinion that the region is a utilitarian cultural desert (文化沙漠). His remark has become a catchphrase in the Chinese intellectual circle.
Je ne savais pas tout ca mais le batiment me plaisait, alors on est rentrées!Et voila ce qu'on a découvert.