Dr. Lennert Gesterkamp

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"

Dr. Lennert Gesterkamp is a sinologist and Chinese art historian with a special focus on Daoist art, text, and ritual and the understanding of Chinese culture from the perspective of East-West cultural exchanges. He received his sinological and Chinese art historical training at Leiden University (MA and PhD) and SOAS (MA), after which he completed postdoc researches in Taiwan at the Academia Sinica, in China at Zhejiang University, and in the Netherlands at Utrecht University. He published the first monograph study on Daoist art in the West, The Heavenly Court: Daoist Temple Painting in China, 1200-1400 with Brill in 2011, and published some three dozen articles in English and Chinese on Chinese art, Daoism, and East-West interactions.

At the IKGF, his project is titled Tokens of Destiny: Casting Golden Dragons and Jade Slips in Daoist Ritual and Archaeology. It deals with a famous Daoist ritual called tou longjian 投龍簡, which involved the casting of three sets of golden dragon and a jade slip into a grotto, earth, and river or lake, representing the Three Offices of Heaven, Earth, and Water that decided over a human’s destiny. A century ago in 1919, Éduoard Chavannes studied and translated the ritual and several inscriptions, but in recent decades, Chinese archaeologist have unearthed numerous golden dragon and jade slips, giving us a new opportunity to study the ritual and relate it to the actual objects. Because the ritual was usually performed on behalf of the emperor, the dragons and inscribed slips not only can give new insights on an emperor’s personal ideas and beliefs, they also make it possible to further place them and the ritual in a larger historical context. The research will first give an overview of the historical development of the Daoist ritual of ‘casting dragons and slips,’ and then discuss the archaeological objects relating them to their historical events. In concurrence with the IKGF research project on ‘Fate, Freedom, and Prognostication,’ the project will finally link the ritual and objects to ideas and concepts of destiny in Daoism, arguing that destiny in Daoism is considered largely a bureaucratic affair and should therefore be resolved bureaucratically.

You can contact Dr. Lennert Gesterkamp at: lennert.gesterkamp@fau.de
For his publications, see: https://uni-erlangen.academia.edu/LennertGesterkamp

Ming period Golden Dragon unearthed from Wudangshan, dated 1399.