Documentary: Caodaism - Spirit-Writing and Revelation in a Vietnamese New Religion (2019)

Length: 32min 02sec

In this documentary, Prof. Dr. Janet Hoskins, Professor of Anthropology and Religion at the University of Southern California, provides an introduction to the history of Caodaism and its link to the practice of spirit-writing. Caodaism is a Vietnamese new religion that emerged in Southern Vietnam in the 1920s. Its early religious scriptures were revealed through a slightly adapted form of Chinese spirit-writing and ascribed to different deities of the Sino-Vietnamese pantheon and other religions. Caodaism turned into a large religious organization but was repressed by the Communist government after 1975 due to its linkages to the former South Vietnamese government. However, it survived in the diaspora and underwent a revival in Vietnam in recent years.

Keywords: IKGF, Conference, Spirit-Writing, Divination, Vietnam, Caodai, Spiritism, Colonialism, Diaspora
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Janet Hoskins
Language: English
Nature of Event: Conference


Documentary: Spirit-Writing in Chinese History (2019)

Length: 32min 56sec

On June 25-26, 2019, a conference on “Spirit-Writing in Chinese History” took place at the IKGF. In this documentary, some of the participants present their own work on the practice of spirit-writing but also discuss the state of research more generally. Due to a growing number of important studies that came out in recent years, we now have a better understanding of the emergence of spirit-writing, its technical varieties and its evolution until this day. Apart from its use for divination and amusement, the practice gradually became a highly routinized technique for the revelation of book-length scriptures. As such, it played an important role in the religious lives of both Chinese literati and commoners and is still widely practiced in Chinese-speaking communities today.

Keywords: IKGF, Conference, Spirit-Writing, Divination, Gender, Chinese Literati, Sichuan
Speakers: Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner, Dr. Hu Jiechen, Prof. Dr. Elena Valussi
Language: English
Nature of Event: Conference


Documentary: The Mural of Longthorpe Tower (2017)

Length: 15min 56sec

Dr. Bee Yun, a current Fellow at the IKGF, speaks about medieval murals in the vaulted Great Chamber of the Longthorpe Tower in Peterborough, England. These murals are parts of a fresco cycle of the fourteenth century. Dr. Bee Yun researched the murals in the course of his research on the medieval symbolism of fortune and fate and endeavored to decipher the images. He summarizes his results with the aid of some images of these murals.

Keywords: IKGF, Video, Art, Medieval Studies, Fresco, Fortune
Speakers: Dr. Bee Yun
Language: German (with English subtitles), English
Nature of Event: Lecture


Documentary: Master Lin’s Luópán (2017)

Length: 25min 32sec

Dr. Stephan N. Kory, a current Visiting Fellow, explains the different components of a feng shui compass and their function. It is the primary tool used in the Chinese mantic art of fengshui, geomancy, or topomancy The Chinese luópán is a self-registering orientor, a mirror of space and time, and a dynamic model of a locative cosmography. The 18 rings of Master Lin Mingdes luópán are used to measure the conditions of a site. The measurements are then interpreted to prognosticate the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of a site, particularly as it pertains to persons associated with it. The underlying concept is that the fate or the mandated life trajectory of a person is fixed according to contingencies, like the position of an ancestors grave or the layout of a house or business.

Keywords: IKGF, Video, Compass, Geomancy, Fengshui, Luópan
Speakers: Dr. Stephan Kory
Language: German (with English subtitles), English
Nature of Event: Lecture


Documentary: An Astrolabe in Focus (2016)

Length: 7min 41sec

Dr Thomas Eser speaks about the huge and unique collection of astrolabes at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg, which is the biggest one in the German speaking area. These astrolabes are from different periods. The astrolabe showed in the documentary was designed by the mathematician Johannes Praetorius for Melchior Ayrer, a physician in Nuremberg. In the 1560s, he collected scientific instruments.
In the second part of this documentary, former Visiting Fellow Dr Josefina Rodriguez Arribas explains the different components of an astrolabe and their function. She shows that these devices are not only for scientific use, but also pieces of art.

Keywords: IKGF, Video, Art, Medieval Studies, Science, Astrology, Astrolabe, Josefina Rodriguez Arribas, Thomas Eser
Speakers: Dr. Josefina Rodriguez Arribas, Dr. Thomas Eser
Language: German (with English subtitles), English
Nature of Event: Lecture


The Epistemology of Prognostic Disciplines in the Middle Ages (2014)

Length: 37min 49sec

In his lecture, Alexander Fidora gives an introduction in two models of sign-based-knowledge in the Middle Ages. He distinguishes by reference to the Aristotelian and Augustin Model between natural signs, for example from the field of medicine or meteorology, and instituted signs, to which he allocates astrological and divinatory signs.

Keywords: IKGF, Medieval Studies, Divination, Astrology
Speakers: Prof. Alexander Fidora
Language: English
Nature of Event: Documentary, Lecture


Practice of Divination: The Tibetan Zhang Zhung Ju thig Divination System (2014)

Length: 38min 43sec

During the research stay of former IKGF visiting fellow, Prof. Dr. Donatella Rossi (Sapienza Univ. of Rome), who worked on the ancient Tibetan Zhang Zhung Ju thig divination system, Tibetan Bon-master Lopon Trinley Nyima Rinpoche was invited to a two-week research visit at the IKGF. Since 1992, Venerable Trinley Nyima Rinpoche has been the appointed Lopon (Head Teacher) of the Bon Dialectic School in Dolanji, India, which is the Bon religion’s major institution of higher education in exile. During his stay, a video featuring an interview on Zhang Zhung Ju thig and other Tibetan divination methods, as well as an actual divination carried out by him, was produced.

Keywords: IKGF, Video, Tibetan Studies, Divination, Lopön Trinley Nyima Rinpoche, Donatella Rossi
Speakers: Lopön Trinley Nyima Rinpoche, Prof. Dr. Donatella Rossi
Language: Tibetan (with English subtitles)
Nature of Event: Lecture


Practice of Divination: The Book of Changes (2013)

Length: 35min 53sec

Keywords: IKGF, Video, Chinese Studies, Divination, Wenzhi Zhang, Xiaokun Song
Speakers: Prof. Wenzhi Zhang, Xiaokun Song
Language: Chinese (with English subtitles)
Nature of Event: Dialog


Gao Xingjian - A Documentary (2012)

Length: 31min 05sec

At the IKGF a conference with and about Nobel laureate in literature Gao Xingjian took place from 24-27 October 2011. By documenting Gao´s visit of several days and through Michael Lackner’s interview with him, Gao’s artistic transposition and personal attitude towards fate and freedom are revealed. Gao’s writing, painting, and cinematic art reflect his inner and outer journey into exile – an exile that is fated. During the conference, several parts of the opus of the laureate were exhibited. The Museum Tucherschloss in Nuremberg presented in a special exhibition the artist’s ink on rice paper paintings, the E-Werk in Erlangen showed his films (“La silhouette sinon l’ombre”, “Après le déluge” and “Snow in August“), and the City Library in Nuremberg gave a reading on his novel “Soul Mountain”. Academics, translators and artists, such as Mabel Lee, Wang Liying, Kwok-kan Tam, Renate Reifenscheid, and John McDonald, describe their impressions of Gao´s opus.
At the IKGF a conference with and about Nobel laureate in literature Gao Xingjian took place from 24-27 October 2011.

Keywords: IKGF, Chinese Studies, Documentary, Erlangen, Konferenz, Michael Lackner, Mable Lee, Gao Xingjian
Speakers: Gao Xingjian, Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner, Prof. Mable Lee
Language: English, French, Chinese
Nature of Event: Documentary, Conference


Three Disciplines at One Table (2012)

Length: 22min 22sec

In the discussion led by Lothar von Falkenhausen, three eminent scholars of Early Chinese history meet. Three fields of specialty are involved: early material culture and archaeology (von Falkenhausen), early Chinese philology and oracle bone inscriptions (Kenichi Takashima) and early intellectual history (Michael Puett). Together, the three scholars debate on the Shang and Zhou dynasties: while Ken Takashima focuses on divinatory texts of the 13-11 centuries B.C. and their diction, Michael Puett considers the Western terms of “Fate, Freedom and Prognostication” in the context of Early China. In cooperation with both, Lothar von Falkenhausen attempts better to understand and classify the divinatory material objects of early Chinese archeology.

Keywords: IKGF, Chinese Studies, Erlangen, Prognostication, Shang dynasty, Zhou dynasty, Archaeology, Ken Takashima, Michael Puett, Lothar von Falkenhausen
Speakers: Prof. Ken Takashima, Prof. Michael Puett, Prof. Lothar von Falkenhausen
Language: English
Nature of Event: Round Table