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Title: Rare Books: a Quintessential Selection from the National Palace Museum Collection

The National Palace Museum houses a collection of rare books, numbering over 203,000 volumes, from the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties.  Mainly formed and assembled by the Qing court, the collection is impressive in both quality and quantity.

When the Manchu came to rule over the Han China, the new dynasty also took over the entire court library left by the defeated Ming.  The palace collections further expanded in scale and contents.  Compilations of imperial writings and various other works were commissioned per imperial orders; great effort was put in to actively pursue the Song and Yuan rare books.  Collated by court scholars for imperial perusal only and titled collectively Tianlu Linlang (Resplendent Voluminosity), these rare books reveal the extent of Qing emperors’ cultivated erudition.  Twists and turns in history have made the once exclusive sets an important part of the National Palace Museum’s collections.

Other sources also contributed to the Museum’s rich collection of rare books, including Ming imprints and maps taken over from the former Peking Library, unusual Chinese originals and Japanese imprints gathered by Yang Shoujing, an assistant to the late Qing's envoy to Japan; Song and Yuan works donated by individuals, local gazetteers transferred from the Department of Defense, and various Qing anthologies bequeathed by the Sun Yat-Sen Library of Hong Kong.  Except for a few that used to be in the court collections and then scattered outside, most of these are manuscripts or imprints produced by private or commercial operations.  Their varieties are a valuable complement to the Museum’s court-based collection.

The section ''Rare Books: a Quintessential Selection from the Museum Collection'' consists of the following seven segments: ''Gems of the Wuying Palace Editions'', ''Treasuries of the Wenyuan Pavilion'', ''Fine Editions of the Wanwei Biecang Library'', ''Works from the Peking Library'', ''Rare Books of the Guanhaitang Library'', ''Invaluable Donations”, and “Dragon Sutras.''  With the vast collection of volumes in their fine binding, the multi-block color-printing techniques, and the many other ingenious devices employed by private print houses, the featured items provide historical perspectives into the rare books housed in the Museum, and, as a whole, into the aesthetic, cultural, artistic, and bibliophilistic aspects in the world of rare books.

Treasures in the Wuyin Palace

Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng (New Window)
Qinding Wuyingdian Juzhenban Chengshi (New Window)

Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng
Completed Collection of Graphs and Writings of Ancient and Modern Times
Edited on imperial order by Jiang Tingxi, et al., Qing dynasty
Wuying Palace imprint of bronze movable type, 1726, Qing dynasty


Qinding Wuyingdian Juzhenban Chengshi
Printing Procedures of the Wuying Palace
Written by Jin Jian, Qing dynasty
Wuying Palace imprint of wood movable type, 1773, Qing dynasty

Dixue (New Window)

Imperial Learning
Written by Fan Zuyu, Northern Song dynasty
Miniature manuscript by Prince Yongrong, 1775, Qing dynasty


Gems of the Wenyuan Chamber

Qinding Siku Quanshu (New Window)
Qinding Buhui Xiao Yuncong Lisao Quantu (New Window)

Qinding Siku Quanshu
Complete Library of the Four Treasuries
Catalogue, Classics, History, Philosophy, and Anthologies
Written on imperial of Emperor Qianlong, Qing dynasty
Handwritten edition of the Wenyuan Hall, 1773-1781, Qing dynasty


Qinding Buhui Xiao Yuncong Lisao Quantu
Supplement to Xiao Yuncong's Illustrations to Encountering Sorrow
Illustrated by Xiao Yuncong and supplemented on the imperial order of Emperor Qianlong, Qing dynasty
Handwritten dition of the Wenyuan Hall as part of the Siku Quanshu Library, 1773-1781, Qing dynasty


Tianlulinlang: The Treasure-Collection of Rare Books

Qinding Tianlu Linlang Shumu Houbian (New Window)
Kongshi Liutie (New Window)

Qinding Tianlu Linlang Shumu Houbian
Supplement to the Catalogue of the Tianlu Linlang Library
Compiled on imperial order by Peng Yuanrui, et al., Qing dynasty
Compiled on imperial order by Peng Yuanrui, et al., Qing dynasty


Kongshi Liutie
Six Wrintings by Master Ko
Written by Kong Chuan, Song dynasty
Imprint by Han Zhongtong of Quanzhou, 1166, Southern Song dynasty

Wanwei Biecang Xubian Shumu Tiyao (New Window)

Wanwei Biecang Xubian Shumu Tiyao
Annotations to the Supplemental Catalogue of the Wanwei Biecang Library
Written on the imperial order of Emperor Jiaqing, Qing dynasty
Handwritten red-lined edition of inner court, 1796-1820, Qing dynasty


Beiping's Rare Books & Maps Ensemble

Yongle Dadian (New Window)

Yongle Dadian
Vast Documents of the Yongle Era
Complied by Xie Jin, et al., Ming dynasty
Manuscript copy of inner court, 1522-1572, Ming dynasty



Rare Books Collection from Yang Shoujing

Kingin Zuroku (New Window)

Kingin Zuroku
Catalogue of Japanese Coins
Edited by Kondō Morishige (1771-1829)
Color imprint of 1810, Japan



Various Precious Arts Donated to the Museum

Xinbian Zhuru Pidian Gujin Wenzhang Zhengyin (New Window)
Su Wenzhong Gong Shiji (New Window)

Xinbian Zhuru Pidian Gujin Wenzhang Zhengyin
New Edition of Ancient and Modern Literary Writings Annotated and Commentated by Confucian Scholars
Edited by Liu Zhensun, Southern Song dynasty
Imprint of 1265-1274, Southern Song dynasty
Donated by Shen Zhongtao


Su Wenzhong Gong Shiji
Collection of Poems by Su Shi
Written by Su Shi, Northern Song dynasty; commentated by Ji Yun, Qing dynasty
Black-and-red imprint by the Yunyu Print House, 1869, Qing dynasty
Donated by Qin Xiaoyi


The Tibetan Dragon Sutra

Tibetan Dragon Sutra (New Window)

Tibetan Dragon Sutra
Section of Collected Sutras
Handwritten in gold ink during the reign of Emperor Kangxi, Qing dynasty (Phu case)



Tripitaka in Manchu

Manchu Tripitaka (New Window)

Manchu Tripitaka
Imperial in red ink imprint of 1790, Qing dynasty