(11 May 2023) The Library of Congress (LC) finished digitizing the Yongle Encyclopedia, “the largest reference work created in pre-modern China, and possibly the world. Digital publication of the 41 volumes held in the Library’s collections provides open access to one of the most extensive attempts in world history to capture the entirety of human knowledge in book form.”
The encyclopedia “represented an ambitious endeavor to record all forms of knowledge known to Chinese civilization at the time of the Yongle emperor’s reign. It was intended to be an easy-to-consult but comprehensive reference work.” Compiled between 1403 and 1408 for use by then-emperor Zhu Di, it was later hand-copied to duplicate it in full. Only 4% of the work survived to the modern day.
For more information, read the press release.