“Daughter of Dunhuang” Fan Jinshi donated 10 million to Peking University

“The donation I donate today is a contribution that I should make.” Her voice is not high, and her words are plain and earnest.
On May 4, the 125th anniversary of Peking University, “Dunhuang Daughter” Fan Jinshi alumni returned to Peking University and brought back 10 million RMB donations to set up the Fan Jinshi Education Fund to support the research of Dunhuang Studies at Peking University. At the donation ceremony, warm applause broke out again and again, and some students were moved to tears, and everyone admired Mr. Fan’s noble conduct.


Sixty years ago, Fan Jinshi, who graduated from the Department of History of Peking University, set off for the Northwest Desert without a nameless lake, and since then began to work for the Dunhuang cave cultural relics industry for most of her life; Today, she is still committed to promoting exchanges and cooperation between Peking University and the Dunhuang Academy…
At the donation site, Fan Jinshi sent her 125th birthday wishes to her alma mater, and hoped that Peking University would cultivate more outstanding talents to promote cultural self-confidence and self-improvement and create a new brilliance of socialist culture.
I am a student of Peking University, and thanks to the excellent academic style of ‘diligence, rigor, truth-seeking and innovation’ of my alma mater, and the sincere teaching and careful training of many senior teachers, I have the ability to make some contributions to the Dunhuang Grottoes. Today, I donate to the Peking University Education Foundation, which I should make to my alma mater. I hope that the establishment of the Fan Jinshi Education Fund will play a positive role in the development of Dunhuang studies at Peking University.
The funds donated include the “LUI Che Woo Prize – World Civilization Award” Positive Energy Award awarded by Fan Jinshi in 2019 (the total amount of the prize is 20 million Hong Kong dollars, half of which is donated to her alma mater and the other half to the Dunhuang Academy), and the “Ho Leung Ho Lee Science and Technology Achievement Award” in 2020 is 1 million Hong Kong dollars. On this basis, in order to make the principal of the fund reach 10 million yuan, Fan Jinshi donated her own savings for many years.
“We were proofreading the manuscript together and were delighted to witness and share the news of Mr. Fan’s award. Later, Mr. Fan told me that the money for the award was not hers, and that the prize money should be used wisely. Gu Chunfang, a professor at Peking University’s School of Arts, recalls that “Later, her idea of setting up a fund was also supported by her family.” ”
Fan Jinshi said this at the donation ceremony of Peking University:
People should not only plan for themselves, this bonus should be ‘taken in a way’, but also ‘used in a way’, and must be used for causes conducive to social development.
Like many similar moments before her, she dissipated the individual’s luster and left it to the collective and society.
The Lui Che Woo Prize – World Civilisation Prize recognises the outstanding achievements of the winners and organisations in building a better world, and the Positive Energy Award, which aims to “promote a positive outlook on life and enhance positive energy to inspire people”, Fan Jinshi blends half of her life with the historical and cultural treasure of Dunhuang, which is the most vivid and plain interpretation of the concept of the award.
“There is a way to use it”, for money and materials, Fan Jinshi always has the way in her heart. “Of course, the place to be used is not reserved for children and grandchildren.” She has always lived a simple life, always paying little attention to material money.
What she is worried about is the protection, research and promotion of the Dunhuang Grottoes, and the promotion of Dunhuang studies. When working, every year, she would take 10,000 yuan from her salary and donate it to the China Dunhuang Grottoes Protection Research Foundation for nearly 30 years; Each winning trophy, medal and prize money was also given to the Dunhuang Academy. In 2014, when Mr. Fan retired, she donated a lump sum of 450,000 yuan saved in her provident fund account.
What kind of person do you want to be in this life? The answer given by Fan Jinshi was simple and firm.
Mission: Life and the cause of Dunhuang are integrated
The teachers who taught us were all influential scholars in the field of history and archaeology in China, all of whom had deep feelings for their homeland, profound academic skills, and unique academic achievements.
In 1958, Fan Jinshi entered Peking University to study archaeology. On the shores of the unnamed lake, which is full of inclusive atmosphere, she immersed herself in a realistic and innovative academic atmosphere, received a top-notch archaeology education, was influenced by the spiritual culture of Peking University, and found the love of her life.
During this period, many of the teachers and seniors of Peking University’s archaeology major were pioneers and contributors who made significant contributions to the development of archaeological work in New China and the construction of archaeological disciplines. Mr. Su Bingqi’s “Teachings on Temporary Travel” and Mr. Su Bai’s “Seven Lectures on Dunhuang” had an important impact on Fan Jinshi’s life choices, nourishing her Dunhuang love and unswerving rooted spirit.
Before leaving, Mr. Su Bingqi specially told her: “When you go to Dunhuang, you must know that you have to write an archaeological report, and writing an archaeological report is an important matter of archaeology. For example, if you study the history of the Han Dynasty, people will ask, have you read the “Shiji”, have you read the “Book of Han”, will not ask if you have read so-and-so’s article, archaeological reports are like “Twenty-four History”, very important, must be done well. ”
With the knowledge and teachings imparted by Master Peking and the mission of a Peking University graduate, Fan Jinshi went to Dunhuang.
When he first arrived in Dunhuang, “inside the cave was the world of immortals and art halls, but outside the cave were flying sand and rocks, yellow sand was all over the sky”, but the difficult living conditions in the Gobi did not make Fan Jinshi retreat. Deep in the desert, she watched the vicissitudes of history and culture in the Mogao Grottoes; In the Gobi, she guarded the causes and conditions of Buddha’s good deeds throughout the ages, and passed on through the Buddha’s successive generations. Over the decades, she has visited every cave in the Mogao Grottoes, seen every mural and every painted sculpture.
Fan Jinshi regards the protection, research, promotion and management of Dunhuang’s cultural heritage as a lifelong career.
In 1987, the Mogao Grottoes were approved as one of the first World Heritage Sites in China.
All six standards of the World Heritage Site are met by the Mogao Grottoes. I think we must protect the Mogao Grottoes so that the protection and management are truly in line with international standards and concepts.
When Dunhuang applied for the World Heritage Site, the application materials were all handwritten by Fan Jinshi, and under one stroke, it was Fan Jinshi’s combing of Dunhuang’s history, the presentation of the current situation and the prospect of the future. To truly protect the Mogao Grottoes, legislation and conservation planning are also needed. Under her promotion, the Regulations on the Protection of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in Gansu Province were promulgated and implemented in 2003, and the Dunhuang Academy also compiled the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Protection Master Plan with three internal and external institutions.
In 2011, the first volume of the Complete Works of Dunhuang Grottoes and the Archaeological Report of Caves 266-275 of Mogao Grottoes were officially published, which is the first scientific and academic cave archaeological report in China. In order to make the cultural relics information of Dunhuang Grottoes permanently preserved and used forever, Fan Jinshi led the team to start the construction of “Digital Dunhuang”. After more than 30 years of exploration, the Dunhuang Academy has established a systematic “digital Dunhuang” resource library, and Dunhuang culture and art have truly gone out of the cave and to the world.
In addition to archaeological research and conservation, Fan Jinshi was also responsible for the management of the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang during her tenure as director of the Dunhuang Academy. From logistics to general affairs, from the taste of meals in a canteen to the team management and coordination of the entire institute. She attaches great importance to talents, strives to improve the accommodation environment of employees, and strives for opportunities for researchers to study abroad. Fan Jinshi is well aware of the dean’s responsibility, and makes every effort to create a better research and living environment for researchers, but only keeps simplicity to herself. Fan Jinshi has been doing this kind of work for 17 years.
During her decades of rooting in Dunhuang, whether it was management work or research work, Fan Jinshi has adhered to the principles of rigor, honesty and responsibility, she said:
This is the principle of being a person and doing things taught to me by Peking University.
Choose one thing in life, and the heart will return to Dunhuang. Fan Jinshi handed over half of her life to the quicksand of Dunhuang and the light and shadow that disappeared in a hundred miles of the Thousand Buddha Caves, waiting for spring after spring in the Mogao Grottoes in a seemingly desolate scenery of life.
Inheritance: The spiritual tradition of Peking University cannot be forgotten
It was the spirit and learning style of my alma mater that deeply immersed my thinking, became the nourishment for my growth, nourished my life, and taught me how to think about and do a good job in the cause of the world-famous, broad and profound Dunhuang Grottoes; Let me not forget to serve the motherland and the Dunhuang Grottoes cause I am engaged in, which is a heavy responsibility, and I must not slack off in the slightest, and I must do my best to do it.
During the days and nights in the desert, while burying her head in her work, Fan Jinshi always had a wisp of love in her heart, spanning thousands of miles and dozens of years, connecting Dunhuang and Beijing, Mogao Grottoes and Unnamed Lake.
Over the years, Fan Jinshi has always cared about her alma mater. This spiritual tradition is also passed on because of this——
She witnessed and shared some important moments with Peking University: in 2018, Fan Jinshi wrote a commemorative article “From Peking University to Dunhuang” for the 120th anniversary of Peking University, which contains her deep affection for her alma mater; On December 18, 2018, at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up, Fan Jinshi was awarded the title of “Reform Pioneer”. The next day, she returned to her alma mater to have a discussion with teachers and students, recalling her relationship with Dunhuang.
On December 19, 2018, Fan Jinshi, who won the title of “Reform Pioneer”, held a symposium at Peking University to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up
She follows the development of the discipline of archaeology at Peking University. In 2022, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Archaeology Laboratory under the Gate of Chinese Studies at Peking University and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of archaeology professional education in the Department of History, Fan Jinshi sent a congratulatory letter to recall her experience in the Department of Archaeology of Peking University, and sent sincere blessings to her alma mater and the School of Archaeology and Museum.
She has condensed her half-century life experience into words and words, and conveyed the spirit and mission of Peking University people between short and long paper and concise words. In 2019, in her letter, she exhorted Peking University freshman Yin Yin to “be a Peking University person with a broad mind and benevolence”, and “ear to ear” at the freshman training camp, encouraging everyone to “always be on the road”; In 2020, she sent a message to the new students of the School of Archaeology and Museum of Peking University to strive to become archaeologists who integrate knowledge and action, and to have the mentality and preparation to immerse themselves in the hidden world, and integrate their personal pursuit into the sacred cause of archaeology.


“The spirit and academic style of Peking University, the importance of the Dunhuang Grottoes and my responsibility inspired me to devote myself to the protection, research and promotion of the Dunhuang Grottoes, and secretly determined to build Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes into a veritable World Heritage Museum. I walked around the Dunhuang Grottoes almost every day, not feeling lonely or regretful, because it was worth it. I have done one thing in my life, without complaint. I can’t forget the spiritual tradition of Peking University. ”
In this place, where the imprint for life was engraved, she sowed a seed that sprouted in Peking University and knotted in Dunhuang.
Continuation: Dunhuang Studies flourished in Peking University
Dunhuang Studies, known as “International Manifestation Studies”, mainly focuses on the two major aspects of Dunhuang Tibetan scripture cave documents and Dunhuang cave art, and is an interdisciplinary discipline involving religion, history, archaeology, art, language and literature, as well as unpopular fields.
Peking University is the birthplace of Dunhuang studies in China and one of the highlands of Dunhuang studies today. As early as the early 20th century, scholars from the Beijing Normal University Hall, the predecessor of Peking University, began to study Dunhuang Studies. In the following century, Xiang Da, Wang Chongmin, Ji Xianlin, Su Bai, Fan Jinshi, Rong Xinjiang and other Peking University scholars devoted themselves to the study of Dunhuang and achieved fruitful results.
In 2016, the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of Peking University was established, and Fan Jinshi was the first invited scholar of the Academy of Liberal Arts. She took the exam with her peers in the autumn of SeptemberPeng Jinzhang, the husband of the paleologist, came to Peking University to exchange and discuss with everyone, and also brought the “Millennium Dunhuang – Dunhuang Mural Art Exhibition”, an art feast from Dunhuang.
In addition to these public activities, in places invisible to the public, Fan Jinshi always did her best to promote and encourage the academic research of future generations, and worked tirelessly for Dunhuang learning. Gu Chunfang recalled writing to Mr. Fan asking for materials related to Dunhuang studies, and soon received a reply detailing the book in which the material was located, even the version and page number of the book.
The cultural documents in the Mogao Grottoes are rich and splendid, and the academic value and cultural nutrients are abundant. Peking University has a profound strength in the humanities, and many Peking University scholars have carried out research topics in the fields of Dunhuang history, language and writing, literature, archaeology, art, religion, ethnicity, folklore, science and technology, and cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries.
In the future, Dunhuang studies will expand deeper and wider, and it is urgent to comprehensively and deeply reveal the value and significance of Dunhuang documents and Dunhuang grottoes from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Integrating forces, in 2019, the Dunhuang Academy and Peking University jointly established the “Dunhuang Studies Research Center” to jointly cultivate high-level Dunhuang Studies research talents, and the Dunhuang Studies Research Center was headed by Fan Jinshi as the honorary director. Since the establishment of the center, relevant talent training, cultural and academic exchanges and scientific research work have been carried out intensively: in November 2019, a special seminar was held on the postgraduate training program of Dunhuang Studies; In November 2020, the “Dunhuang Studies Series” academic activities gathered scholars from various fields, and the scholars’ keynote reports and free discussions were splendid; In June 2021, the seminar on “Dunhuang Cultural Value System” was held in Peking University…
“Mr. Fan has repeatedly stressed that education and scholarship in institutions of higher learning are a powerful driving force for promoting Dunhuang studies and the cradle for cultivating the next generation of Dunhuang scholars.” Rong Xinjiang, director of the Dunhuang Studies Research Center and a liberal arts chair professor at Peking University, said.
Now, the “Fan Jinshi Education Fund” donated by Mr. Fan has become another important node of Peking University and Dunhuang Studies. The fund will be used for academic research, talent training, international exchanges and other aspects related to Dunhuang studies, as well as the development and construction of related academic institutions. With this as a support, the story of Peking University and Dunhuang is passed down from generation to generation.
How far is the shore of the unnamed lake to the Dunhuang desert? It is a long road of thousands of kilometers, a long farewell and longing that stretches for many days and nights; It can also be a stone’s throw away, a coordinated pulse that refines the Dunhuang civilization. From the speckled spark to the close exchange, the Dunhuang learning line quietly continued. In the future, more scholars and students will raise this torch and illuminate the memories of history.
After working all my life, I always involuntarily think about Dunhuang.
Thinking about the ages, but also paying attention to the present, what is it to keep the same? What Fan Jinshi says is what she does.
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