Asian and African studies blog

30 May 2013

Book containing 1000 beautiful paintings from the Song Dynasty period is donated to the British Library by Zhejiang University

The British Library’s Asian and African department is home to a vast collection of Chinese artefacts, books and manuscripts. These include the oldest items in the Library: the oracle bones – some 3500 years old, 18th-century Chinese books from Sir Hans Sloane’s own collections, and the Diamond Sutra – the earliest printed ‘book’ in the world, dated AD 868.

As of yesterday, these collections will now be joined by a new acquisition generously donated by Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. A host of delegates including Mr Jin Deshui, Chairman of University Council, and representatives from the Cultural Section of the Chinese Embassy in London, visited the Library in order to deliver an impressive set of volumes, which you can see below.

Picture of the donated books

The 21 volumes, entitled Complete Collection of Paintings of the Song Dynasty, fully exhibit in beautiful high-resolution images the approximately 1000 paintings produced during the Song dynasty, which ruled China between 960 and 1279.

Picture of the books on display

Over a three year period, Zheijang University painstakingly compiled the collection of paintings, with supporting text and documents, contacting different organisations who keep the originals of the paintings and organising for them to be photographed and brought together for the first time.

This donation, received gratefully by Caroline Brazier, Director of Collections at the British Library and me, will be a remarkable resource for researchers using the Library and we hope will bring many new discoveries around this fantastically rich period of art and scholarship.

Picture of books bening received by Caroline Brazier and Frances Wood

Frances Wood, Lead Curator of Chinese Studies


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