The Research Institute of Chinese Non-orthodox Culture (RICNC) of Sichuan University was established in June 1999, based on the Research Institute of Buddhist Literature and Philology established in June 1996, ever since then, Professor Xiang-Chu had been its chief director. In September 2000, the institute was denominated Key Research Institute by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. RICNC’s research colleagues mainly come from the staff of Sichuan University majoring in Chinese Classic Documents (which is authorized National Key Subject ), Chinese Classic Literature, and Chinese Philology, while several colleagues are employed from other universities and research institutes all over the country. Some of the most famous scholars among the staff are: Professor Xiang-Chu, Professor Zhou-Yukai, Professor Xie-Qian, Professor Zhang-Yong, Professor Yu-Liming, and Professor Jiang-Zongfu.
The staff mainly contribute in three fields: vernacular language, popular literature, and secular beliefs.
With many important research papers and works published in the fields of Dunhuang popular literature and Buddhist popular literature, RICNC has long established its tradition in the field of popular literature. E.g., professor Xiang-Chu has published Dunhuang Wenxue Congkao, Wangfanzhi Shi Jiaozhu, Hanshan Shi Zhu, Tangdai Baihuashipai Yanjiu,etc. And Professor Zhou-Yukai has published works in the fields of Zen master’s gathas and literatures. All these work have received high praise among scholars all over the world and were highly praised by the Ministry of Education of PRC. The on-going programs include: (1) the study of different branches of popular literature in the history, dealing with vernacular poems, vernacular sayings, vernacular songs, etc. (2) the studying of the relationship between Buddhism and Chinese poems, with the approach of synchronic and diachronic analysis employed.
Benefited by the good tradition of vernacular language study established several decades ago by former scholars who ever worked in Sichuan University, the colleagues endeavor to probe various aspects of vernacular languages, such as the phonology, vocabulary, grammar, rhetoric, and the writings. Especially in the study of Dunhuang vernacular language and Buddhist vernacular language, items of literature, documents, and language are taken into account as a whole, resulting in the progress in this fields and catching the attention of scholars. Some of the published works about the language of Chinese Buddhist scriptures by Professor Dong-Zhiqiao and Professor Yu-Liming are well-known in and outside China. Professor Zhou-Yukai’s Chanzong Yuyan and Professor Zhang-Yongquan’s Dunhuan Suzi Yanjiu are also the most famous works in this field. The study of the language of Daoist scriptures had recently started, too.
The study of secular beliefs sponsored by RICNC’s young scholars is also taking the lead among many other research groups, although this field is rather new. The research program is consisted of three parts: (1) branches of Chinese secular beliefs, (2) secular beliefs and Chinese literature, and (3) secular beliefs and Chinese society, with problems of religious and literature are involved as well as those of history and society. Professor Zhang-Yong’s Fudashi Yanjiu, Professor Liu-Changdong’s Jintang Mituo Jingtu Xinyang Yanjiu, Professor Dong-Zhiqiao’s Guanshiyin Yingyanji Sanzhong Yanjiu, Professor Yin-Fu’s Zhongguo Dizang Xinyang Yanjiu, Professor He-Jianping’s Zhongguo Weimo Xinyang Yanjiu are some of the outstanding works published.
Looking ahead, RICNC’s colleagues have full confidence for the future. On the one hand, the good tradition long established by scholars in Sichuan University will be carried on. On the other hand, new approaches and new paths are due to be found in the coming decades. RICSC aims to establish itself as a charming centre of study, a charming centre of academic communication, as well as a charming centre of scholar training.