Li Shutong (1880-1942), originally from Pinghu County, Zhejiang Province, was born on October 23, 1880 (Lunar September 20 in the sixth year during the reign of Emperor Guangxu in Qing Dynasty) in a rich merchant family at Dizang Lane, Hedong, Tianjin (presently Lujia Lane, Liangdian Street, Hebei District), and peacefully died in Quanzhou on October 13, 1942. He once had a name of Chengxi at his childhood, with the meaning that "peach and plum do not speak, yet a path is born beneath them". He also went by the names Wentao and Shutong, but was most commonly known by his Buddhist name, Master Hong Yi.
Li Shutong was a pioneer of China's new cultural movement, and also a famous artist, educator, thinker and innovator in modern history. As an early enlightener of the New Culture Movement in China, he had scored the higher achievements in music, drama, fine arts, poetry, seal cutting, bronze inscription, calligraphy, education, philosophy, law and many other cultural fields. He cultivated a large number of talents in different fields, including Feng Zikai, a renowned painter, and Liu Zhiping, a musician.
In 1918, Li Shutong was ordained as a monk in Hangzhou Hupao Temple with Hong Yi as his Buddhist name and Yan Yin as his religious name. As one of the most outstanding monks in the history of modern Chinese Buddhism, he was regarded as the Master of Nanshan Ritsu and the Master of the Eleventh Generation of Ritsu, and enjoyed prestigious fame both at home and abroad. His life was appraised by Mr. Zhao Puchu that "he was scintillating with wisdom and talents to be admired by the people, while he was noble-minded and pure with a profound influence to the world".