Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'eng (Completed Collections of Graphs and Writings of Ancient and Modern Times)
Although "Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'eng" is traditionally said to have
been compiled under imperial auspices by the official Chiang T'ing-hsi,
it actually reflects the work of the Fukien official Ch'en Meng-lei.
So impressed was the K'ang-hsi Emperor by the scope of the project that
he personally titled it. Begun in 1700, it was not finished until 1726.
"Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'eng" is composed of 10,000 volumes, and the
table of contents itself comprises 40 of them. The first printing was
the Wu-ying Hall edition, done in moveable copper type for a total of
64 imprints. Later printings resulted in wider circulation.
The encyclopedia consists of 6 series, 32 divisions,
and 6,117 sections. Each section is divided according to subject, summary,
illustration, table, biography, art, poetry, records, odds-and-ends, and others. Taken from a wide range
of texts, it is the
largest and most ambitious project of its kind to survive today. Scholars have estimated that it contains about 170,000,000 characters, making it truly a grand synthesis of earlier learning.