Ancient books' list gets longer

By Wang Kaihao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-05-31 07:51:17

Ancient books' list gets longer

A scripture housed in a Tibetan monastery is one of the new entries added to the list of key ancient Chinese books. Provided to China Daily

The official list of ancient Chinese books was recently expanded.

Last week, the Ministry of Culture released the updated list of key ancient texts in Beijing. It includes more than 900 new sets of books - 754 in Mandarin, 166 in non-Han languages and 14 in foreign languages - taking the existing list to a total of 12,274 sets.

In China, ancient books are defined as those published before the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), including written records on various types of materials like oracle bones and bamboo slips.

The first list of national-level ancient books was released in 2007, when the National Center for Preservation and Conservation of Ancient Books was established in Beijing.

The new entries were selected from among 7,381 samples following a two-year review.

"All in all, we have updated the list four times, and we thought the most important books might have already been included," says Li Zhizhong, head of the chief expert panel of China's ancient book protection. But there are more books out there.

He cites the examples of bamboo slips of Warring States Period (475-221 BC) housed at Tsinghua University and those from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) collected by Hunan University in Central China's Changsha city, which are among highlights this time for being "incomparable".

The updated list includes three stone rubbing facsimiles from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) on Lanting Xu, a 4th-century calligraphy work, commonly seen as among the best in Chinese fine art. The works are now housed in Chinese University of Hong Kong, also becoming the first ancient books from Hong Kong to be inscribed in the list.

Forty-three copies of chronological recordings of Qing Dynasty emperors and a compilation of their edicts from Northeast China's Liaoning Provincial Archive were also included in the latest list.

"Though the number of books added in the latest version of the list is smaller as compared with earlier versions, the quality is improving."

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