Rare ancient books debut at Tianjin Museum to mark 105th anniversary
Published: Sep 05, 2023 10:24 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Tianjin Museum

Photo: Courtesy of Tianjin Museum

This year marks the 105th anniversary of the Tianjin Museum, which is a national key unit for the protection of ancient books. 

The museum recently launched its first specialized exhibition of ancient texts since its establishment, inviting the public to explore a world of historical and intellectual wonders.  

The exhibition, Misty Radiance: A Collection of Ancient Texts at the Tianjin Museum, set to run until November 30, features more than 100 ancient rare books selected from its collection of 53,000 copies, 78 of which are being exhibited for the first time. 

Ranging from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the exhibition includes representative works of ancient books, such as The ­Lotus Sutra, a key work in Mahayana Buddhism; and Ben Cao Gang Mu, or Compendium of Materia Medica, an ancient Chinese classic on medicine.

There are various ancient books, covering philosophy, literature, history, geography, politics, economics, military strategy, science and medicine. 

They serve as a testament to the development of ancient Chinese civilization and are a valuable repository for the intellectual thought of ancient Chinese people.

Over the course of history, ancient Chinese books have experienced significant changes and developments. Books on exhibition have used different forms of binding, and various printing techniques, including woodblock printing, movable type printing and lithography, showing how technology has evolved over the centuries.

Since ancient times, Chinese society has valued education and culture. Over the centuries, scholars and citizens alike have committed to collecting and preserving books, which remains an ongoing tradition. The exhibition displays physical objects, photos, videos of restoration tools and restored books to decipher the process of preserving and restoring ancient books, demonstrating how this cultural heritage has been passed on along the journey through time.