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Museum exhibition tells story of ancient books

By ZHANG KUN in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-05-26 07:49

Collected Works of Wang Anshi at the exhibition. CHINA DAILY

Ancient books from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties are now on show at a new exhibition at the Shanghai Museum and about half of the exhibits are listed as "treasured ancient books "in China.

Pages Through the Ages: A Selection of the Song and Yuan Rare Books from the Shanghai Museum is set to run through Aug 13, featuring 66 precious books from the 10th to the 14th centuries. It is the first large showcase of ancient books from the collection of the museum.

There is a saying among the archaeological circles in China that goes, "A page from a book of the Song Dynasty is worth a tael of gold", which refers to the importance and high value of these ancient books.

The Song and Yuan dynasties saw a peak in the development of Chinese culture, and this coincided with the golden age of ancient books in China, says Chu Xiaobo, director of the Shanghai Museum.

This period also saw vast improvements made to papermaking, ink manufacturing and block printing techniques, and their rapid development led to the creation of diversified binding formats that ranged from scrolls to butterfly to concertina and wrapped-back bindings.

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