Chen Xianxing et al. ed: ZHONGGUO GUJI GAO CHAO JIAO BEN TULU. (An Illustrated Catalogue of Old Chinese Manuscripts, Hand-copied Books and Annotated Texts). Shanghai, 2000. 21, 244; 245-624; 625-930, 54 pp. At least one and often more colour plates per item (see description for numbers of items). 3 vols. 29x22 cm. Cloth, in a cloth case.
An excellent, well-illustrated three-volume catalogue of some of the most interesting rarities in Chinese bibliography. All the items discussed are types of manuscript editions; each volume of the catalogue is devoted to a particular category. The first and third categories correspond to similar Western examples: manuscripts 'per se' and hand-annotated editions of (chiefly) printed books - both categories may be valuable not only for any intrinsic interest or rarity of the text, but also for the association of the author of the manuscript or the manuscript notations. The second category is less familiar in the West. Due to the nature of the Chinese script, and the relative expense of reprinting texts for which the woodcut blocks are lost, the practice of making manuscript copies of entire books was much more common and persistent than in the West. Whereas we associate the 'scriptoria' of monasteries with the middle ages, in China individual scholars are, to this day, wont to copy out the entire text of rare books, often for their own use, from library or private collection copies. Again, over time, some of these 'chaoben' become treasured for the fame of their once-humble copyists. The earliest manuscripts 'per se' in this catalogue date from the Yuan period, but volume two has a Northern Wei period manuscript from Dunhuang, reminding us that China also has its special tradition of Buddhist 'scriptoria'.
The catalogue is based on the fine collections of the Shanghai Library (which, with the Beijing Library, is a sort of second National Library of China), augmented with a number held elsewhere. There are 109 items treated in the first volume, 153 in the second and 113 in the third. All are illustrated in new, high-quality colour photography. Thorough and often highly detailed notes on each item follow the illustrations, including brief biographies of the authors. In Chinese only. Highly recommended, especially to any person or institution with a serious interest in Chinese bibliography and rare editions.
Subjects: Rare Books Printing
Available, as of: 21/09/2017
Was item 294 in printed List 189.
Record produced by Hanshan Tang Books, www.hanshan.com.