Franciscus Verellen, born in Sydney, Australia, in 1952. Ph.D. from the Université de Paris VII. Associate Professor of Sinology at the École Française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris.
Fellow (1 September 1996 - 30 June 1997)
My NIAS fellowship in 1996/97 enabled me to lay the groundwork for my contribution to a joint project with Professor Kristofer Schipper of Leiden University on the early history of the Taoist Heavenly Master movement in China. A comprehensive study of the surviving corpus of Heavenly Master writings from the 2nd to 5th centuries AD and a range of historical source materials was combined with research into two specific areas:
- the legend of Zhang Daoling, from the dual perspectives of his roles as a local culture hero and the founder of a supra-regional church;
- the movement's self-definition, in terms of dogma, social organisation, and liturgical institutions, as gleaned from the early scriptural remains.
Preliminary results were presented as lectures at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne) and the University of Oxford, and in the form of an article to appear in the 1997 festschrift for Léon Vandermeersch (École Française d'Extrême-Orient). Proximity to Leiden also provided opportunities for lectures on related subjects in interdisciplinary contexts (Chinese literature, art history). Finally, the haven of NIAS made it possible to see two conference volumes, on the "Cult of Sites" and the "Cult of Saints in China", through their various editorial phases. They are to be published in Paris and Taipei, respectively, in 1997 and 1998.