Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chinese encyclopedias

Chinese encyclopedias are encyclopedias published in the Chinese language or encyclopedias about China and Chinese-related topics. In , encyclopedias are known as ''bǎikē'' or ''dàdiǎn'' , which literally means "book of a hundred subjects," and "great canon", respectively and can trace their origins to the late Han dynasty, in the third century CE. Encyclopedic works were published in China for well over one and a half thousand years before China's first modern encyclopedias were published after China's economic liberalization in the 1980s, during the . Several encyclopedias have been published in China since then, including several specialist and children's encyclopedias. The major title currently available - in both paper and online versions - is the ''Encyclopedia of China'' , published by Encyclopedia of China Publishing House. Since the 21st century, with internet use proliferating, a number of online encyclopedias have been started. The three largest online Chinese encyclopedias are Hoodong, Baidu Baike and Chinese Wikipedia.


The contribution from China to the history of encyclopedias is distinctive and covers almost two thousand years, longer than any other country or civilization in the world. Traditional Chinese encyclopedias differ from the modern encyclopedia in that they are mainly anthologies of significant with some aspects of the . Compiled by eminent , they have been revised rather than replaced over hundreds of years. In the main, they followed a form of arrangement; very often their chief use was to aid candidates for the .

The first known Chinese encyclopedia, the ''Huanglan'' , was prepared by order of the emperor about 220 CE, but no part of this work has survived. Part of the ''Bianzhu'' , prepared about 600, is still in existence. About 620 the ''Yiwen leiju'' was prepared by Ouyang Xun in 100 chapters divided into 47 sections. The ''Beitang shuchao'' of Yu Shinan was more substantial and paid particular attention to details of the organization of public administration. An annotated edition, edited by Kong Guangda, was published in 1880.

The ''Chuxueji'' was a modest work compiled about 700 by Xujian and his colleagues. A more important book was the ''Tongdian'' compiled by Du Yu , a writer on government and economics. Completed about 801, it contained nine sections: military, national defense, economics, law, government examinations and degrees, political geography, rites and ceremonies, and music. In 1273 it was supplemented by Ma Duanlin's enormous and highly regarded ''Wenxian tongkao'' , which included a good bibliography. Supplements to this work were published in the 17th, 18th, and 20th centuries. Under the order of the second Song emperor, Song Taizong, the statesman Li Fang organized the compilation of the vast '''' , which included extracts from many works of literary and scientific standing that are no longer in existence. In 1568-72 the ''Taiping yulan'' was revised and reprinted from movable type; a new edition revised by Yuanyuan appeared in 1812. The '''' , particularly strong in historical and biographical subjects, was almost as large as the ''Taiping yulan''.

The historian Zheng Qiao compiled the ''Tongzhi'' , an original work with a strong personal contribution; the printed edition was in 118 volumes. One of the richest and most important of all Chinese encyclopedias, the ''Yuhai'' , was compiled about 1267 by the renowned Song scholar Wang Yinglin and was reprinted in 240 volumes in 1738.

What was probably the largest encyclopedia ever compiled, the ''Yongle dadian'' , was issued at the beginning of the 15th century. Unfortunately, only a very small part of its 22,937 chapters has survived; these were published in 1963. A number of small encyclopedias were issued in the 16th century, but the next important event was the publication of the small but profusely illustrated ''Sancai tuhui'' , compiled by Wang Qi and his son Wang Siyi. In 1704-11 the Chinese literary encyclopedia ''Peiwen yunfu'' was compiled by order of the emperor Kangxi; this was supplemented by the ''Yunfu shiyi'' . Other works ordered by the emperor include the ''Bianzi leibian'' and the ''Zishi jinghua'' . In 1726 the huge ''Gujin tushu jicheng'' was published by order of the emperor Kangxi. Edited by the scholar Chen Menglei, it filled more than 750,000 pages and attempted to embody the whole of the heritage.

At the turn of the century, several encyclopaedias were issued. Wang Qi's ''Shiwu yuanhui'', which covered well over 2,000 topics, was compiled in 1796. Lu Fengzuo's ''Xiaozhilu'' is particularly valuable for its attention to technical terms, which previous works had ignored. Chen Wei's ''Jingzhuan II'' concentrated on history and the great , whereas Wang Chenglie's ''Qiming jishu'' is stronger in biographical material. Dai Zhaochun compiled the ''Sishu wujing leidian jicheng'' , a historical work for the use of civil-service candidates. Wei Song's ''Yishi jishi'' had actually been compiled 65 years previously, but it paid far more attention to practical matters. The ''Jiutongtong'' of Liu Keyi was in large measure a reassembly of material in the older encyclopedias in a more efficient classification. A more important work of the period is the largely historical and biographical ''Ershisishi jiu tong zhengdian leiyao hebian'' . The ''Qingchao xu wenxian tongkao'' , compiled by Liu Jinzao, was revised and enlarged in 400 volumes in 1921. It includes contemporary material on fiscal, administrative, and industrial affairs and gives some attention to technical matters. Lu Erkui's ''Ciyuan'' , with a supplement issued in 1931, was the first really modern Chinese encyclopedia and set the style for nearly all later works of this nature.

In 1978, the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House began compiling China's first large-entry modern general encyclopedia, called the Encyclopedia of China. 74 volumes were published between 1980 and 1993. A 32-volume second edition was published in 2007 .

In 1985 and 1986, a 10 volume short-entry Chinese version of ''Microp?dia'' of the 15th edition of ''Encyclop?dia Britannica'' -- called ''The Concise Encyclop?dia Britannica'' -- was published serially in Beijing, as a joint venture between the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House and Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc.. An 11th volume was issued in 1991. A 20-volume revised edition, ''Encyclop?dia Britannica International Chinese Edition'', was published in 1999. On a side note, Chinese is one of the few major languages that Encarta does not have a version in.


Encyclopedias written in .

* ''Administrative Districts Encyclopedia of China'' , .
* Baidu Baike , second largest online Chinese encyclopedia with over 1 million entries.
* ''Beijing Encyclopedia'' , . World's largest municipal encyclopedia. Compiled by more than 3,000 people over a period of 5 years, the reference consists of 20 volumes with more than 17 million words and over 10,000 items and illustrations. Has eight volumes covering Beijing's history, geography, districts, politics and society, economy, science, education, culture, health and tourist sites.
* ''Bencao Gangmu'', also known as the Compendium of Materia Medica, is Chinese materia medica work written by Li Shizhen in the Ming Dynasty.
* ''Book by category'', one kind of reference book in ancient China.
* Britannica Online, Traditional Chinese Edition , the first full-length online encyclopedia in traditional Chinese, a joint publication of Britannica and Yuan-Liou Publishing Company of Taiwan .
* ''Chinese Children's Encyclopedia'', 4-volume encyclopedia, published by Zhejiang Education Press
* ''Chinese Encyclopedia'' , Taiwan
* ''Chinese Towns Encyclopedia'' , . Details 20,000 Chinese towns, focusing on their economies.
* ''Cihai'', combines dictionary and encyclopedia
* ''Concise Encyclop?dia Britannica'', 11-volume short-entry encyclopaedia in the Chinese language, published in Beijing in 1985–91, as a joint venture between Encyclopedia of China Publishing House and Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc. .
* ''Concise Huaxia Encyclopedia'', published by Huaxia Press in Beijing. See "Huaxia".
*Chinese Wikipedia
** Cantonese Wikipedia
** Chinese Wikipedia , with over 175,000 entries.
** Classical Chinese Wikipedia
** Hakka Wikipedia
** Mindong Wikipedia
** Minnan Wikipedia
** Wu Wikipedia
* ''Diplomacy Encyclopedia of China'' , .
* ''Dream Pool Essays'', written by Shen Kuo in the Song Dynasty
* ''Encyclopedia of China'' , the first large-entry modern encyclopedia in the Chinese language.
* ''Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas'' . Chinese Heritage Centre, Singapore.
* ''Encyclopedia of Republic of China'' . 16,000 entries on the Republican Era . Published by Jiangsu Ancient Books Publishing House.
* ''Fayuan Zhulin'', a Buddhist encyclopedia compiled AD 668 by Dao Shi
* ''Finest Blossoms in the Garden of Literature'', an anthology of poetry, odes, songs and writings from the Liang Dynasty to the Five Dynasties era
* ''Four Great Books of Song'', compiled by Li Fang and others during the Song Dynasty
* ''Gujin Tushu Jicheng'', a vast encyclopaedic work written in China during the reigns of Qing emperors Kangxi and Yongzheng, completed in 1725
* Hoodong , largest online Chinese language encyclopedia with over 2 million entries .
* ''Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era'', a massive encyclopedia in the Song Dynasty
* ''Macao Encyclopedia'' , the first specialist encyclopedia on Macao, published by the Macao Foundation .
* ''Military Encyclopedia of China'' , . China's largest military encyclopedia. Comprises over 50,000 short entries.
* ''Modern Science and Technology Encyclopedia'' , .
* ''Mongolian Studies Encyclopedia'' , .
* ''Prime Tortoise of the Record Bureau'', largest encyclopedia compiled during the Chinese Song Dynasty
* ''Sancai Tuhui'', compiled by Wang Qi and Wang Siyi, completed in 1607 and published in 1609
* ''Shanghai Encyclopedia'' , most comprehensive reference on Shanghai; has more than 7 million words, published by the Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House .
* ''Shanxi Encyclopedia'' , . Published by Zhonghua Book Company; contains 8.1 million Chinese characters and 5,000 images, and is the first large reference which documents the province's history, culture, society and economy.
* ''Siku Quanshu'', largest collection of books in Chinese history and probably the most ambitious editorial enterprise in the history of the world
* ''Resource Sciences Encyclopedia'', .
* ''Tàipíng guǎngjì'', a collection of stories compiled under the editorship of Li Fang, first published in 978
* ''Traditional Mongolian Medicine Encyclopedia'' , .
* ''Yiwen Leiju'', a encyclopedia completed during the Tang Dynasty by the calligrapher Ouyang Xun
* ''Yongle Encyclopedia'' , a compilation commissioned by the Ming emperor Yongle -- one of the earliest and largest at the time.
* ''Zhong Hua Da Dian'' , . On China's cultural history from the Qin Dynasty to the 1911 Revolution.

Other related encyclopedias

Though not technically Chinese encyclopedias because they are not written in Chinese, there have been many specialist works in other languages that have focused on China itself as a subject. These include:

* ''Berkshire Encyclopedia of China'' , Berkshire Publishing Group. Linsun Cheng .
* ''Cambridge Encyclopedia of China'', Cambridge University Press.
* ''Encyclopedia of China'', Dorothy Perkins.
* ''Encyclopedia Of Contemporary Chinese Civilization'' , Greenwood Pub Group. Jing Luo .
* ''Science and Civilization in China'', Cambridge University Press.
* ''Nagel's Encyclopedia Guide: China'' Nagel Publishers, Geneva, 1968.

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