Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > East Asian Collections > 31. Chen Menglei and Jiang Tingxi

31.  Chen Menglei (1651-1741) and Jiang Tingxi (1669-1732).  Qin ding gu jin tu shu ji cheng. s.l. : Zong li ya men shi yin ben, 1890? 1,672 volumes (original gift in 5,044 volumes) C. V. Starr East Asian Library

East Asian Studies at Columbia University began in 1901, following donations by Columbia College graduate and Trustee General Horace Walpole Carpentier of $100,000 and by Dean Lung, his employee, of $12,000. In 1902 the Trustees approved the creation of the Dean Lung Chair in Chinese studies. University President Seth Low solicited the gift of books through the American ambassador in Beijing, and received the donation from the Empress Dowager of China of the 5,044-volume encyclopedia. The Qin ding gu jin tu shu ji cheng follows a line of increasingly extensive encyclopedias, but is substantially larger than its predecessors. It is divided into thirty-two classes or sections of various length, grouped under six main categories approximately representing Heaven, Earth, Man, Science, Literature, and Government. None of the content is original; rather, both text and illustrations were compiled and copied from earlier works. Columbia's set is from the second edition, published in 250 copies, and is one of only three such sets outside China. The first Dean Lung Professor of Chinese, Frederick Hirth, raised funds to rebind the volumes, received in their original format of several small silk-sewn volumes in a book case, into Western style bindings, thought at the time to be easier to handle and keep safe.

Gift of the Empress Dowager of China, 1902

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