Sinology in general use is the study of China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and things related to China, but, especially in the American academic context, refers more strictly to the study of classical language and literature, and the philological approach. Its origin, says one recent survey, "may be traced to the examination which Chinese scholars made of their own civilization."

Sino- is derived from Late Latin
Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...

 Sinae from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 Sinae from the Arabic Sin which in turn may derive from Qin, that is, the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

. Other explanations deduce that a Biblical reference to the land of Sinim
The land of Sin , also known as Sinim , is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in the Book of Isaiah 49:12: "Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim."Though some scholars have claimed it as a variant name for not-so-distant...

 since it was otherwise unknown, must refer to China.

In the context of area studies
Area studies
Area studies are interdisciplinary fields of research and scholarship pertaining to particular geographical, national/federal, or cultural regions. The term exists primarily as a general description for what are, in the practice of scholarship, many heterogeneous fields of research, encompassing...

, the European and the American usages differ. In Europe, sinology is usually known as Chinese Studies whereas in the United States Sinology is a subfield of Chinese Studies. The Australian scholar Geremie R. Barmé offers a "New Sinology," one which "emphasizes strong scholastic underpinnings in both the classical and modern Chinese language and studies, at the same time as encouraging an ecumenical attitude in relation to a rich variety of approaches and disciplines, whether they be mainly empirical or more theoretically inflected."

A China watcher is a person who monitors current events and power struggles in the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...


During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, China Watchers centered in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, especially American government officials or journalists. Mutual distrust between the United States and the PRC and the prohibition of travel between the countries meant they did not have access to press briefings or interviews. They therefore adopted techniques from Kremlinology
Kremlinology is the study and analysis of Soviet politics and policies based on efforts to understand the inner workings of an opaque central government. The term is named after the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian/Soviet government. Kremlinologist refers to academic, media, and commentary experts...

, such as the close parsing of official announcements for hidden meanings, movements of officials reported in newspapers, and analysis of photographs of public appearances. But in the years since the opening of China, China watchers can live in China and take advantage of normal sources of information.


In the Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n Sinosphere
In areal linguistics, Sinosphere refers to a grouping of countries and regions that are currently inhabited with a majority of Chinese population or were historically under Chinese cultural influence...

, the studies of China-related subjects began early. In Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, sinology was known as kangaku ( "Han Studies"). In China, the studies of China-related subjects is known as Guoxue (国学/國學 "National Studies"), and sinology is translated as Hanxue (汉学/漢學 "Han Studies").

In the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, some researchers would date the origins of sinology as far back as Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 and Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

 in the 13th and 14th century, but the systematic study of China began in the late 16th century, when Jesuit missionaries
Jesuit China missions
The history of the missions of the Jesuits in China is part of the history of relations between China and the Western world. The missionary efforts and other work of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, between the 16th and 17th century played a significant role in continuing the transmission of...

 based at St. Paul's College, Macao
St. Paul's College, Macao
St. Paul's College of Macau also known as College of Madre de Deus was a university founded in 1594 in Macau by Jesuits at the service of the Portuguese under the Padroado treaty. It claims the title of the first Western university in the Far East."St...

, notably Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

, introduced Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 to China. The first Sinologist of Eastern Europe was Nicolae Milescu
Nicolae Milescu
Nicolae Milescu was a Moldavian writer, traveler, geographer, and diplomat. Milescu spoke 9 languages: Romanian, Latin, Greek, Modern Greek, French, German, Turkish, Swedish and Russian...

 (1636–1708). Early sinological research often concentrated on the compatibility of Christianity with Chinese culture.

During the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, sinologists started to introduce Chinese philosophy, ethics, legal system, and aesthetics into the West. Though often unscientific and incomplete, their works inspired the development of Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", and pronounced ) refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences...

 and a series of debates comparing Chinese and Western cultures. At that time, sinologists often described China as an enlightened kingdom, comparing it to Europe, which had just emerged from the Dark Ages. Among those European literati interested in China was Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, who wrote the play L'orphelin de la Chine inspired by the Orphan of Zhao
Orphan of Zhao
The Orphan of Zhao, or Orphan of the House Tcho is a Chinese play of the Yuan Dynasty, attributed to someone named Ji Junxiang , about whom almost nothing is known. Based on an episode in Shiji, the play has its full name The Great Revenge of the Orphan of Zhao Family .It is the first Chinese play...

, Leibniz who penned his famous Novissima Sinica (News from China)and Vico.

In 1732 a missionary priest of the Sacred Congregation "De propaganda fide" from the kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

, Matteo Ripa (1692–1746), created in Naples the first Sinology School of the European Continent: the "Chinese Institute", the first nucleus of what would become today's Università degli studi di Napoli L'Orientale, or Naples Eastern University. Ripa had worked as a painter and copper-engraver at the Manchu
The Manchu people or Man are an ethnic minority of China who originated in Manchuria . During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels , they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which...

 court of the emperor Kangxi between 1711 and 1723. Ripa returned to Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 from China with four young Chinese Christians, all teachers of their native language and formed the Institute sanctioned by Pope Clement XII
Pope Clement XII
Pope Clement XII , born Lorenzo Corsini, was Pope from 12 July 1730 to 6 February 1740.Born in Florence, the son of Bartolomeo Corsini, Marquis of Casigliano and his wife Isabella Strozzi, sister of the Duke of Bagnuolo, Corsini had been an aristocratic lawyer and financial manager under preceding...

 to teach Chinese to missionaries and thus advance the propagation of Christianity in China.

In 1814, a chair of Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 and Manchu
Manchu language
Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

 was founded at Collège de France
Collège de France
The Collège de France is a higher education and research establishment located in Paris, France, in the 5th arrondissement, or Latin Quarter, across the street from the historical campus of La Sorbonne at the intersection of Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue des Écoles...

. Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat, who taught himself Chinese, filled the position, becoming the first professor of Chinese in Europe. By then the first Russian Sinologist, Nikita Bichurin, had been living in Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 for ten years. Abel-Rémusat's counterparts in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 were Samuel Kidd (1797–1843) and Wilhelm Schott (1807–1889) respectively, though the first important secular sinologists in these two countries were James Legge
James Legge
James Legge was a noted Scottish sinologist, a Scottish Congregationalist, representative of the London Missionary Society in Malacca and Hong Kong , and first professor of Chinese at Oxford University...

 and Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz
Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz
Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz was a German general linguist and sinologist. His Chinesische Grammatik , according to a critic, "remains until today recognized as probably the finest overall grammatical survey of the Classical Chinese language to date." Gabelentz was born in Poschwitz, near...

. Secular scholars gradually came to outnumber missionaries, and in the 20th century sinology slowly gained a substantial presence in Western universities.

In modern history, sinology has seen its influence in politics, due to its role in think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

s. The divide between the mainland People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and the Taiwan Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 has further added to the complexity of study. Funding for Chinese studies may come from a variety of sources; one prominent source, especially for Taiwan studies, is the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange is a private, non-profit organisation located in Taipei, Taiwan, that provides support for research grants on Chinese studies in the humanities and social sciences at overseas institutions. It was founded in 1989 and named...



  • Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient
  • Chinese Heritage Quarterly, China Heritage Project, Australian National University
  • Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
    Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
    The Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies is an English-language scholarly journal published by the Harvard-Yenching Institute. HJAS features articles and book reviews of current scholarship in East Asian Studies, focusing on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean history, literature and religion, with...

  • Journal of Asian Studies
    Journal of Asian Studies
    The Journal of Asian Studies is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Association for Asian Studies, covering Asian studies. The journal was first established in 1941 as The Far Eastern Quarterly, obtaining its new title in September 1956...

  • Journal Asiatique
    Journal asiatique
    The Journal asiatique is a French academic journal founded in 1822 by the Société Asiatique with the aim of promoting Orientalism and Oriental studies. The Journal asiatique has been published without interruption since 1822. It is presently published twice a year by the French National Centre for...

  • Late Imperial China
    Late Imperial China (journal)
    Late Imperial China is an academic journal established in 1981. The journal specializes in the Ming and Qing dynasties. It includes methodologically novel techniques in the study of political, intellectual, social, and gender history as well as historical demography. It often publishes work from...

  • Monumenta Serica
    Monumenta Serica
    Monumenta Serica – international academic journal of sinology . It is published by Monumenta Serica Institute in Sankt Augustin. The editor-in-chief is now Roman Malek....

  • Sino-Platonic Papers
    Sino-Platonic Papers
    Sino-Platonic Papers is a scholarly monographic series published by the University of Pennsylvania. The chief focus of the series is on the intercultural relations of China and Central Asia with other peoples....

  • T'oung Pao
    T'oung Pao
    T’oung Pao , founded in 1890, is the first international journal of sinology.It was originally named T’oung Pao ou Archives pour servir à l’étude de l’histoire, des langues, la geographie et l’ethnographie de l’Asie Orientale . It is published by the Leiden publisher E. J...

  • Toho Gakuho
  • Toyoshi Kenkyu

Further reading

  • Barrett, Timothy Hugh, Singular Listlessness: A Short History of Chinese Books and British Scholars (London: Wellsweep, 1989). 125p. "Published in its original form in F. Wood, ed., British Library Occasional papers, 10: Chinese studies [1988], p. 9-53.".
  • Cayley, John & Ming Wilson ed., Europe Studies China: Papers from an International Conference on the History of European Sinology, London: Han-Shan Tang Books, 1995.
  • Honey, David B., Incense at the Altar: Pioneering Sinologists and the Development of Classical Chinese Philology, New Haven: American Oriental Society, 2001. (See also E.G. Pulleyblank
    Edwin G. Pulleyblank
    Edwin George Pulleyblank FRSC is a sinologist and professor emeritus of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia...

    's review of the work in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 122, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep., 2002), pp. 620–624, available through JSTOR
    JSTOR is an online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides its member institutions full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society...

  • Mungello, David E., Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology, Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985.
  • Yang Liansheng , Excursions in Sinology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969).
  • Zurndorfer, Harriet Thelma, China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works about China Past and Present, Leiden : Brill Publishers, 1995. ISBN 9004102787.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.