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Type of Item
The portrait is of Su Hui, a gifted fourth-century female scholar and poet who had the courtesy name of Ruolan (“like an orchid”). She is famous for a palindromic poem that she embroidered in several colors of silk to express her love for her husband, who had been exiled to a distant point on the trade routes to Central Asia. Different versions of the poem exist. One has 112 characters arranged in eight rows of 14 characters. They make no sense unless the reader starts with the character "husband" in ...
Chart of the Organs Revealed by Inward Illumination
This medical text shows the five major organs (heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys) and six minor organs (gall bladder, stomach, small intestines, large intestine, bladder, and triple heater meridian) of the human body, as defined in Chinese traditional medicine. The triple heater meridian is one of 12 basic meridians used in Chinese medicine to understand the functioning of the body. Also shown are other concepts from Chinese medicine, for example, the cinnabar field. In Taoist thought, the cinnabar field is the root of the human being, the place in ...
The Plum Blossom
The plum blossom and bamboo sometimes are paired as friends in Chinese culture. Both are symbols of purity and steadfastness. This pairing is reflected in this late 17th-early 18th century painting and the accompanying poem. He Shikun was a Ming-dynasty figure who is identified in two local gazetteers as being from Xinhui, in Guangdong. The inscription here, however, identifies him as being from Wuyang, an old name for Guangzhou, to the north of Xinhui. In 1646, in the chaotic weeks before Xinhui surrendered to the Qing dynasty forces that had ...
This Qing-dynasty (1644-1911) print shows the nine-headed phoenix, a being from Chinese mythology with a bird's body and nine heads with human faces. It is one of several hybrid creatures mentioned in the Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shanhai jing), where it is said to dwell in the Great Wilds to the North at the mountain called Celestial-Coffer-at-the-Northern-Extremity. This entry is in what may be the most recent section of this work, which may have been composed at any time between the third or fourth century B.C. and ...
Two Illustrations from "Selected Arias of the Yuan Dynasty"
These prints from around 1615 show two figures from Yuan-dynasty (1279-1368) poetry. The right-hand picture illustrates a play about Zheng Kongmu, a law clerk, and Song Bin, a young man who accidentally killed a man. Zheng recognizes Song Bin as an honorable man and convinces the judge not to execute him. Instead, he is exiled to a penal colony where he has many adventures, including meeting up with and helping Zheng Kongmu when he himself runs afoul of the law by killing a woman who mistreated his children. The other ...
The People of Taiwan Parading to a Ritual Sacrifice (for Generals Fan and Xie)
The annual ritual sacrifices for General Fan and Xie at the temple to the city gods in Taipei were especially important to the people of Taiwan during the period of Japanese occupation, which lasted from 1895 to 1945. Extra trains in and out of Taipei were scheduled to accommodate the crowds that came to this event from all over Taiwan.
Raising Ducks in Taipei Province
Traditionally, raising ducks has been an important enterprise in Taiwan, especially in the northern region. Wherever there is water, families have raised ducks for food.
The Magnificent Longshan Temple in Taipei
The Longshan Temple is the most famous ancient temple in Taipei. Built in 1738 by settlers from the Chinese mainland who founded a trading post at the site 15 years previously, the temple was where local residents worshipped the Guanyin Bodhisattva and looked to it for protection and the resolution of disputes. In the Sino-French War of 1884-85, the temple became a rallying point for the successful defense of Taiwan against French troops. Earthquakes, storms, and a major termite assault obliged the community to rebuild the temple at various times ...
View of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan
Under Japanese rule between 1895 and 1945, the chief authority in Taiwan was the governor-general, an official appointed by, and sent from, Tokyo. The governor-general wielded supreme executive, legislative, and judicial power. This 1920s photograph shows the office of the governor general, which included bureaus for military and home affairs. Construction of this building, by workers imported from Japan, began in 1912 and was completed in 1919.
Heroes Return to the Truth
This 1861 work was published during the Taiping Rebellion, a vast political and religious revolt against the Qing dynasty of China that lasted for more than ten years. Very few books were produced in that period, thus publications from that era are rare. The chief author of this work was He Chunfa, minister of the bureau of punishments in the court of Gan Wang (Shield King), a title bestowed by Hong Xiuquan (1813–64), the Taiping leader, to Hong Rengan (1822–64), one of his cousins. In 1851, Hong Xiuquan ...
Book on the Division of Geographical Boundaries by Reference to the Stars
Ancient Chinese astronomy was used to make prognostications about human affairs by pairing celestial bodies with states, counties, prefectures, and people. Predictions could thereby be made about favorable developments or disasters that might befall a particular locality or person based on movements of the sun, the moon, or stars. This methodology was called fen ye (division of geographical boundaries by reference to the stars). The methodology and the theory on which it was based existed since the Han dynasty (circa 206 BC–220 AD), and over the centuries the system ...
Summary of Astronomy
Tian wen lue (Summary of astronomy) is a well-known work by Yang Manuo, the Chinese name of Father Manuel Dias (1574–1659), also known as Emanuel Diaz. Diaz, a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, arrived in China in 1610 and reached Beijing in 1613. He also spent time in Macao, Shaochuan, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Fuzhou, and other cities. He died in Hangzhou during the reign of the Qing dynasty Shunzhi emperor. Commonly known by its Latin title, Explicatio Sphaerae Coelestis, the book was first published in 1615. This copy is the original edition ...
Pi xie lun (Refuting heresy) is by Yang Guangxian (1597–1669) from Shexian, Anhui Province, a fierce opponent of the early Christian missionaries to China. Beginning about 1659, Yang assumed the self-appointed role of campaigner against the missionaries. In 1644, German Jesuit Johann Adam Schall von Bell (circa 1592–1666) was asked to prepare for the new Qing dynasty a calendar based on Western mathematical calculations. Schall later was named director of the imperial Board of Astronomy. Yang submitted a document to the Board of Ceremonies, charging Schall with errors ...
A Comprehensive Calendar Arranged by Subject Matter
Lei bian li fa tong shu da quan (A comprehensive calendar arranged by subject matter) was compiled by Xiong Zongli (1409–82) during the Ming dynasty. He combined two other Ming works, Song Huishan tong shu (Encyclopedic astronomical calendar) by Song Huishan and Li fa ji cheng (Collected works on astronomical calendars) by He Shitai, made corrections, and published them under a new title. The work is in 30 juan. In the first 19 juan, tables of contents list the names of all three authors. In juan 20–30, no ...
Enlightening the Bewildered about the New Calendar
Xin li xiao huo (Enlightening the bewildered about the new calendar) is by Tang Ruowang, the Chinese name of Johann Adam Schall von Bell (circa 1592–1666), the German Jesuit missionary and astronomer who became an important adviser to the first emperor of the Qing dynasty. Schall had trained in Rome in the astronomical system of Galileo. He arrived in Macao in 1619, where he studied Chinese and mathematics, and reached the Chinese mainland in 1622. After impressing the Chinese with the superiority of Western astronomy by correctly predicting the ...
Enlarged Terrestrial Atlas
Guang yu tu (Enlarged terrestrial atlas) is the oldest extant comprehensive atlas of China by the famous Ming cartographer Luo Hongxian (1504–64). It is based on the Yuan dynasty Yu di tu (Terrestrial map) by Zhu Siben (1273–1333). Luo Hongxian, a native of Jishui, Jiangxi Province, received his jin shi degree in 1529, the eighth year of Jiajing reign, and gained an official post as a senior compiler. Elbowed out of the court by other officials, he began to follow the teachings of Wang Yangming (1472–1529), the ...
A Complete Illustrated Atlas of Counties under the Jurisdiction of the Jiangning Administrative Government
Jiangning was designated a province in the 25th year of the Qianlong reign of the Qing dynasty (1760). The provincial administrative government was established under the supervision of the governor-general of two Yangtze provinces, one of eight governor-generalships instituted during the Qing dynasty. The province straddled the Yangtze River and was close to the sea, bordering Anhui and Sichuan to the south and Henan to the north. Under its jurisdiction were four prefectures, two directly-controlled divisions, one subprefecture, and 33 divisions and counties. The territory stretched more than 750 li ...
Illustrated Gazetteer of the Four Counties of Shaanxi
Shaanxi si zhen tu shuo (Illustrated gazetteer of the four counties of Shaanxi) is an important work on frontier defenses during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It provides details on defensive preparations in the four counties of Shaanxi that were strategic points in the Nine Frontier Fortification System (Yansui, Ningxia, Gansu, and Guyuan). This copy is fragmented and includes only two of an original four volumes, on Yansui and Ningxia. The volume on Yansui has 40 leaves, beginning with the illustrated Yanzhen tu (Map of Yanzhen), followed by illustrated descriptions ...
A Complete Geographic Atlas of East Section of Yansui County
This accordion-shaped book is a military map painted in color on silk, depicting Yansui Zhen, a military fortress in northern Shaanxi province. The work is long and wide, measuring 48.3 centimeters high and 25.5 centimeters wide, in 14 folds. A label on the cover gives the title, Yan sui dong lu di li tu ben (A complete geographic atlas of the east section of Yansui County). The county had 36 fortresses, but only 11 of them are depicted in this work: Qingshui Ying, Mugua Yuan, Gushan, Zhenqiang, Yongxing ...
A Complete View of the Canal from Jiangsu to Beijing
Jiangsu zhi Beijing yun he quan tu (A complete view of the canal from Jiangsu to Beijing) is made of a long continuous sheet of paper folded into accordion-like leaves. It has 21 folds, each 24.1 centimeters high and 13 centimeters wide. The title at the beginning is handwritten in ink and the calligraphy is in the official script style. The work was printed in the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), but the author and the date of publication are unknown. The three-line inscription on the left indicates that the ...
Historic Records of the East Capital of the Northern Song
Dongdu shi lue (Historic records of the east capital of the Northern Song) is a history of the nine courts of the Northern Song (960–1127), mainly consisting of a series of biographies, beginning with Taizu Jianlong (reigned 960–63) and ending with Qinzong Jiankang (reigned 1126–27). The book is divided into 12 juan of general historical information, five juan on high official families, 105 juan of biographies, and eight juan of supplements on the non-Chinese dynasties of Liao (Khitan), Jin (Jurchen), Xi Xia (Tangut Empire), and Jiaozhi (Giao ...