China speaks of opening remains of rare ancient Tibetan books for readers worldwide

A staff member with the regional ancient book protection center restores a rare ancient book in Lhasa. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Apr23’21) – China said Apr 23 that its local Tibet Autonomous Region government had filled an online “treasure house” with priceless ancient books for lovers of Tibetan culture worldwide. It bears pointing out, however, that most of the ancient books, along with countless other cultural treasures of Tibet, were irretrievably destroyed during the Chinese invasion of Tibet and its occupation rule starting from late 1949 itself, but especially during the decade-long Cultural Revolution of 1966-77.

What remains is only the tip of the iceberg, as it were, and the regional ancient book protection centre has announced that it had uploaded rare ancient books with over 20,000 folios to an online platform under the official website of the Tibet Library.

Users can search, copy and download the valuable books for free on the platform, which covers biographies of Tibetan scholars and the history of Tibet and Buddhism that span from the 12th to the 20th century, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Apr 23.

“The precious books uploaded this year, mainly biographies, cover the knowledge of the ancient Tibetan society, economy and folk customs, which provide valuable materials for the study of Tibetan culture and history from multiple perspectives and disciplines,” Penpa Tsering, deputy director of the centre, was quoted as saying.

A staff member with the regional ancient book protection center checks rare ancient books in Lhasa. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

Since its trial operation on April 25, 2020, the platform has received nearly 100,000 visits, setting a record high for the library’s website, the report said.

The work to survey for ancient books for the project was launched in 2009 and according to Penpa Tsering, “After more than 10 years’ efforts, we have made great progress in the survey work, but there is still a long way to go.”

As part of the survey work, a book discovered by Nyishar, head of the ancient classics department of the centre, proved the history of Tibetan engraving printing stretches back at least a century earlier than previous research had indicated, the report said.

China wants the world to see the project and these works as its efforts and achievements.

“Tibet is sharing these precious ancient books with the world, which not only reflects the cultural confidence of China, but provides huge convenience for the researchers of Tibetan studies,” Yeshe Zangpo, an official with the regional Chinese government, has said.


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