Catalogue of Pre-Republican Chinese books at the National University of Singapore Libraries (新加坡国立大学图书馆中文古籍目录) was published in Beijing in May 2021 by the Zhonghua Book Company. The two-volume catalogue is edited by Dr Sim Chuin Peng, Deputy University Librarian at NUS Libraries and Dr Gao Bin, who recently obtained his PhD from the NUS Chinese Studies Department. The publication is part of Zhonghua Book Company’s long term plan to track and catalogue ancient Chinese books collection found beyond China. It is also the first in the series to be published in Asia.
At 1,482 pages and clearly a massive undertaking, the huge Catalogue contains records of 3,579 ancient Chinese books, of which 603 are records of rare ancient books published before 1796. The remainder of the 2,994 records cover ordinary ancient books which were published between 1796 and 1911. Some of the ancient books were published in Japan (131), Korea (4), and Vietnam (1) and 2 were published in the Manchurian language.
The first volume comprises records of 217 rare ancient books while the second volume covers 386 rare ancient books and 2,294 ordinary ancient books. Each record provides information about the book: title, author, call number, publication date, publisher, volumes, and notes. The first volume adds more detail in the form of block format information which is an important element of ancient Chinese books as well as the image of the first page — information not found in the second volume.
The books were organised following the Chinese classification system for cataloguing rare book: 經 Jing, the Classics; 史 Shi, the Histories; 子 Zi, the Philosophers; 集 Ji, the Literary Collections; 類叢 Lei Cong, the Series and 新學類 Xin Xue Lei, the New Subjects.
The Catalogue is a showcase of our library’s rich collection of Chinese rare materials that benefit scholars of Chinese history and literature. Some notable titles are as follows:
- 朱文公校昌黎先生全集 (Collected Writings of Han Yu) in the Yuan Dynasty
- 史記 (The Records of Historian) by the top calligrapher Jiang Ligang in the early Ming Dynasty
- 古今列女傳 (Biography of Ancient and Modern Women) in the first year of Emperor Yongle in the Ming Dynasty (1403)
- Guanshantang’s 儋園文集 (Danyuan Collection) in the 36th year of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1697)
- The engraved red ink overprint 昭代簫韶 (Xiaoshao of the Shao Era) in the 18th year of Emperor Jiaqing of the Qing Dynasty (1813)
- The engraved copy of 欽定越史通鑑綱目 (The Imperially Ordered Annotated Text Completely Reflecting the History of Viet) in the first year of Jianfu of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam (1884)
These rare and valuable books are kept in the NUS Libraries Rare Books Collection and scholars are welcome to consult them by appointment.