China adds ancient manuscripts to state protection catalogue

(24 May 2016, Beijing, Xinhua) The Chinese government has added 899 valuable ancient manuscripts to the catalog under state protection.

They include oracles, manuscripts on bamboo strips and silk scrolls, ancient paper copies of tablet inscriptions, rare manuscripts in ethnic minority languages and in foreign languages such as Latin and English, said Zhang Zhiqing, deputy chief of the National Library of China, at a press conference here Tuesday.

The catalog of valuable manuscripts under state protection now totals 12,274 manuscripts. The government has announced manuscripts for the catalogue four times previously.

Although the number of manuscripts in this round is smaller than previous rounds, the quality is higher, said Li Zhizhong, head of an expert committee that reviews the candidates.

Among them, 59 ancient manuscripts are from Tibet. Tibetan temples, libraries and museums have been very active in applying for state protection and many of their collections are valuable and well-preserved, Li said.

There are also eight manuscripts owned by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the first time the list has included collections from Hong Kong.

The central government also selected 14 institutions as major guardians of rare ancient manuscripts, raising the total number to 180.

The Culture Ministry said it is working on a five-year plan for conservation of ancient manuscripts (2016-2020), with priorities given to legislation, establishing the institutions and mechanism for the survey and registration of rare manuscripts, and repair and digitization of rare manuscripts.

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