The East Asia Collections of the Bavarian State Library comprise around 320,000 original volumes in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
[OPACplus of the Bavarian State Library]

The Chinese collection, which on a global scale is regarded as one of the most important ones outside of China, comprises around 230,000 printed volumes, as well as 3,000 manuscripts. Amongst the most valuable are about 20 printings from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), as well as more than 100 printings from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The Japanese collection consists of roughly 90,000 printed volumes. For this collection, two major purchases were especially important: In 1972, 190 printings from the pre-Meiji period were acquired in Holland. From 1986 onwards, 709 further ancient Japanese titles in 2,654 volumes were taken over from an excellent Japanese scholars’ library.

The small Korean collection comprises about 610 volumes which were printed before 1900. The majority of the latter ones dates back as far as the 17th century.

[Oriental and East Asia Department of the Bavarian State Library]

Digitization before 2011

Since 2005, East Asian titles (requested in the context of Digitization on Demand (DOD), as well as some selected from exhibitions) have been digitized by the Munich Digitization Center (MDZ), which is part of the Bavarian State Library.

DFG project for digitizing Chinese manuscripts and printings (2011-2015)

The oldest Chinese printings and manuscripts (originating from the 7th to the mid-17th century) were comprehensively catalogued and fully digitized between 2011 and 2013. In this project, which was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), more than 5,000 fascicles, 29 leporelli and 10 scrolls were digitized and around 390,000 single images were produced.

In detail, the items include:
- About 20 printings dating back to the time between 975 and 1368: They represent some of the most valuable items held by the Bavarian State Library. The majority of the printings are Buddhist texts, many of which were part of early canonical editions that are no longer available as a whole today, while some fragments are scattered all across the world.
- More than 100 printings from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) which cover the wide spectrum of the rich Ming Dynasty’s printing history (printings of imperial princes, printing projects stretching across two dynasties etc.).
- About 20 missionary printings of Western missionaries dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Their mostly scientific-mathematical content reflects a special feature of Chinese book history.
- Amongst the selected titles, there are also 25 manuscripts, including three highly sumptuous scrolls from Dunhuang (dating back to the Tang Dynasty, 618-907).

Between 2013 and 2015, another 6,000 fascicles and 10 scrolls (with a total number of approximately 580.000 single images) will be comprehensively compiled and fully digitized. This second project is also funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and covers Chinese printings and manuscripts originating from the mid-17th century to the end of the 18th century.

Apart from this website, all titles are accesible via the online catalogue (OPACplus) of the Bavarian State Library, the Bavarian Library Network (Gateway Bayern), WorldCat, the East and Southeast Asia Virtual Library CrossAsia, Europeana, the Union Catalog of Chinese Rare Books of the Taiwan National Central Library as well as via search engines like Google.

All scrolls and leporelli can be viewed in stepless zoom. In each digitized volume, important structural features (e.g. chapter headings/numbers, prefaces and epilogues, illustrations or ownership seals) are mapped onto bookmarks which allow for convenient access to structural and content-related elements of the digitized items. This structural data is embedded in the search engine.

Digitization following the Public-Private-Relationship with Google

Since 2013, this page also contains digitized versions of Chinese and Japanese printings from the 18th and 19th century, created in the context of the Public-Private-Partnership between the Bavarian State Library and Google.

By the end of 2015, all copyright-free Chinese titles and most of the copyright-free Japanese titles of the Bavarian State Library are expected to be fully digitized. Then one of Europe’s major collections of ancient Chinese printings and manuscripts will be freely accessible from all over the world.

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