A landmark intangible heritage project at the intersection between academic research, artistic innovation and digital technology


The “Remake Confucian Rites” project is a proud collaboration between the School of Creative Media (SCM) of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), Tsing Hua University (THU) in Beijing and “Jia Li Tang”, supported by the Moonchu Foundation (Hong Kong).
Led by the SCM’s Dean, Professor Jeffrey Shaw, this is the first collaborative project that the SCM is undertaking with THU’s Research Centre of Confucian “Li” and “Jia Li Tang”. The aim is to restore the Confucian Rites for research and educational purpose by means of innovative interactive design and advanced multimedia technologies and visualisation, and thereby make a historical contribution of global significance.
“Remake Confucian Rites” is a ground-breaking multimedia production that recreates the original Confucian Rites based on academic and artistic best practices. Using its state-of-the-art technical facilities and creative expertise, SCM is recording the live performances of these rituals and then later combining these within a virtual model of a historical Confucian temple. The actors’ exact movements are being scientifically documented using digital video and motion-capture technology, as well as other techniques such as turntable recordings of the actors, their costumes and the ritual utensils.
This final multimedia outcome will be an interactive DVD and on-line app that will be of outstanding educational value to university scholars and secondary school students in China and around the world. These landmark digital publications will explore innovative new visualisation and interaction design techniques to achieve the highest levels of interpretive appreciation and heritage significance. Not just the performance of the ritual, but the exact articulation of each movement and gesture will be able to be interactively studied by the viewer, as well as a detailed examination of the costumes, the ritual utensils and the temple architecture. The historically accurate costumes have been produced by the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.
Actors from the China National Peking Opera Company and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, under the direction of Confucian experts Professor Peng Lin and his doctorate researcher Mr Zhang Defu of the Research Centre for Chinese Ritual Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, are performing this Capping Rites for (the son of) a Common Officer, the coming-of-age ceremony which is described in chapter one of the Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial, or Yili. This represents one interpretative reading of the classic, as divergent interpretations have existed for centuries, but the digital “book” being produced will allow multiple interpretations to be inserted after this first reading, which will make this a new platform for scholarly disputation. Recording is taking place at CityU’s Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, where its Multimedia Theater has been transformed into a Hollywood-quality digital movie set.
“This is a seminal project,” Professor Shaw explained. “Never before have these ancient Confucian rites been filmed with such scrupulous attention to historical accuracy and re-formulated as a virtual multimedia educational and heritage resource.”
Confucianism has been at the heart of Chinese civilisation for thousands of years, and Confucian Rites can be said to be at the heart of Confucianism. The great scholar Qian Mu (founder of New Asia College of Chinese University) said if there was one word that summerises Chinese civilisation it would be the word li (rite). This project aims to make a major contribution to the contemporary revival of Confucian studies and provide a new level of understanding and appreciation that will inform the further evolution of Chinese culture.
“This pioneering project intends to recreate the original Confucian Rites based on academic research done by THU for the purposes of restoring traditional culture and values of Confucian philosophy. With the collaboration of CityU’s SCM, our vision is to provide the necessary foundation for “Li Yue” (rite and music) culture revival,” Mr Zhang said.
Notes to editors: Please download photos and caption at the following link:
Photo captions:
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The main cast members re-enact an ancient Confucian ceremony in the Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre.
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Mr Yuan Chen, the Research Centre Project Coordinator, explains details of the next scene to the actors.
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Preparing the set for the next scene.
The Officer’s son being dressed.
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The Officer’s son stands submissively.
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The live action sequences are integrated into a 3D wireframe temple model, which is based on drawings from the Confucian classics.
Media enquiries:
Sam Lam, School of Creative Media (Tel: 3442 2845 or 9600 8410; email: lam.sam@cityu.edu.hk)
Karen Cheng, CityU Communications and Public Relations Office (Tel: 3442 6805 or 9201 8895)


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