Breathing new life into a masterpiece, April 22

22 Apr 2014

It is the largest collection of books in Chinese history, stretching back almost 400 years to the reign of Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong. Now a reproduction of the Siku Quanshu, or the Complete Library in the Four Branches of Literature, can be seen at the Tianning Temple in the city of Yangzhou, with a digital version also created to help preserve the masterpiece. Comprising more than 3,400 titles and totalling about 2.3 million pages, the Siku Quanshuwas bound in 36,861 volumes and covers philosophy, history, classics and literature. Scribes copied the originals by hand, starting in 1772 and finishing nine years later. There were originally seven copies, but only three have survived China’s turbulent history. Xinhua photographers captured some of the work.