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The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek owns an extensive Chinese collection of international renown. It amounts to around 230,000 printed volumes and 3,000 manuscripts. Since it has grown over a long period of time and Chinese materials have been collected in targeted manner since the 19th century, the collection covers substantially all areas of traditional Chinese knowledge.
It stands out in particular for its excellent old stock with regard to both volume and quality. Among the most valuable items are around 20 printed works form the Song (960 – 1279) and Yuan (1279 – 1368) dynasties, as well as over 100 printed works from the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644), among them a number of unique specimens which have survived only in Munich.
Among the total of around 3,000 Chinese manuscripts there are, among other things, various Buddhist and Daoist texts, popular writings, as well as decrees, deeds and contracts. Three manuscript scrolls from Dunhuang from the time of the Tang dynasty (618 – 907) are particularly outstanding. The largest part of the Chinese manuscripts is formed by the around 2,800 predominantly religious texts written in Chinese script from the people of the Yao who were native to southern China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
The currently acquired original-language publications are predominantly modern text editions and current research literature on pre-republican China (up to 1911). Moreover, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek also collects Sinological research publications in western languages on a large scale, which are acquired by the Department of Collection Development and Cataloguing.