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Chinese Studies Resources - by type

Detailed directory of resources in Chinese Studies listed by type of resource

Apabi Image Database (Tupianku) = 图片库 (中华数字书苑)

Choose the tupianku 图片库 tab to use.

This collection is highly organized; the top-level categories (called “museums”) are Chinese art, calligraphy, folk art, red (i.e. socialist) art, unearthed objects, old photographs, ancient design, modern graphic design, historical costumes, rare book illustrations, classical painting manuals, typography, and pattern design. Each museum has “rooms.” The database contains over 200,000 images; the largest categories are old photographs (75,000), Chinese art (35,000), rare book illustrations (30,000), folk art (13,000) and calligraphy (12,000). Short descriptions of images, as well as the usual image functions including scrolling through an image, are provided. “High resolution” is up to 300 dpi. Images can be downloaded after individual registration. Suggestions for related images are provided.

While the China Digital Library, of which this is a part, has an English interface, very little of this particular database is available in romanization or English; thus, knowledge of Chinese is required.

One can search all divisions at once, or separately; main search criteria are by image title, artist, period, place of origin of the work, and current location. In addition, each museum can be browsed using criteria appropriate to that museum:

  • Chinese art by category (portraiture, landscape, bronzes, textiles, architecture...), period, origin, current location
  • Calligraphy by style (xingshu, caoshu, ...), period, origin, current location
  • Folk art by category (nianhua, shadow figures, paper cuts, clothing...), subject (story people, gods...), regional style
  • Red (i.e. socialist) art by category (propaganda, movie posters, book covers, oil paintings...), subject (leaders, model figures, women, children...), period (1930-), and topics (Anti-Japanese Resistance, Great Leap Forward...)
  • Unearthed objects by category (ceramics and jade only), period, province
  • Old photographs by region, subject (history, customs, medicine, religion...), period (19th c. -)
  • Ancient design by category (eating utensils, ritual vessels, drinking utensils, weapons, furniture, musical instruments, seals...; 25 categories in total), period, material (gold, silver, bamboo, enamel...)
  • Modern graphic design by category (advertisements, posters, book covers, slogans...), industry (clothing, movies and entertainment, hygiene... ), subject (markets, theater, Westernized imports, technology...)
  • Historical costumes by categories (commoners, court, army, underwear, advertisements...) and period
  • Rare book illustrations by category (portraiture, landscape, stories...), period, editions (collotype, woodblock...)
  • Classical painting manuals by category (landscape, birds...), period, topics (Sanxi tang, Jiezi yuan...)
  • Typography by classification (pictorial, geometric...), topics (life, brand logo, struggles...), period (1930-)
  • Pattern design by classification (abstract, modified traditional, landscapes...), topics (entertainment, congratulatory, propaganda...)

Please note: Currently there are problems with off-site access to this database. To access this database off-site please make sure to first activate Secure Remote Access (Sonic Wall) on your device.

Secure Remote Access VPN: Instructions for Windows 10
Secure Remote Access VPN: Instructions for MacOS
Secure Remote Access VPN: Instructions for mobile devices

CADAL (China Academic Digital Associative Library)

CADAL (China Academic Digital Associative Library) is a government-sponsored cooperative project of some 120+ academic libraries (2020), about half of which are from China, to create electronic resources for the use of their patrons. The venture is led by and housed in Zhejiang University, and most major Chinese academic institutions such as Peking, Qinghua, Fudan and Nanjing universities were participants from the beginning. CADAL originally grew out of a China-American Digital Academic Library venture, but only from the mid-2010s  a select group of overseas libraries have received access.

The major resource created by CADAL is a collection of scanned books, both in and out of copyright: 240 thousand ancient texts (including the Xuxiu siku quanshu 续修四库全书), 180 thousand republican works, 155 thousand republican periodical issues, 40 thousand newspaper issues, 800 thousand post-1949 books, 690 thousand works in Western languages, 13 thousand special collection works, 4 thousand videos, 55 thousand audiobooks and 63 thousand images. The collection is constantly increasing. The titles are not full-text searchable; but tables of contents are provided for easy navigation. Lately CADAL has added some special sections for material connected to the Manchuria Railway 满铁 13 thousand titles, modern local gazetteers 17 thousand, material on overseas Chinese 侨批 50 thousand items, and oracle bones from various institutions including from Princeton scanned with Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) technology.

(In addition to the e-books database, the navigation bar also gives access to some other resources: calligraphic works (shufa 书法), a literary timeline (Zhongguo wenxue biannian shi 中国文学编年史), Chinese medicine (zhongyiyao 中医药), and Audio (yinpinku 音频库). Note that the video choice, available only in English, brings one to the main e-books database.)

Access to the books is dependent on the copyright status of the book: while some free access is available, especially to the ancient texts, access to in-copyright books is restricted to registered users at participant libraries: one borrows parts of books, which need to be returned in order to have them become available to other users. Hence, one first has to register (zhuce 注册), and in subsequent visits to log-in (denglu 登录). For this please select 登录/注册 from the upper right of the CADAL home page. To register then click on 快速注册. Please note that it is not necessary to add a mobile phone number 手机号 in order to the register and it is also not necessary to retrieve a verification code if one does not want to connect the personal account to a Chinese mobile phone number. The registration process can be soley finished via a valid email. After registration, the system will ask for an affiliation at the first login. Please choose IP range and select “Princeton University” as your affiliation (suozai danwei 所在单位). The system will connect your account to Princeton for 180 days. For this to work you must be either using the system from a university computer (including within the library), or access the database via the library link at the top of this database description.

Activities one performs when logged-in, including borrowing books, note-taking etc., are visible to all users from search pages etc.: hence, make sure to log-out especially on shared public computers. One is not logged out automatically, even not after days. To log-out, go to one’s personal account page (registeredname’s CADAL in the English, registerednameCADAL in the Chinese interface), and click on tuichu 推 出. This account page is available in the top navigation bar, and is also the page from where one returns  books, see one’s borrowing history, etc.  (One can choose to set the interface to English, but only a limited number of top-level screens have been translated.)

Once logged in, and directed to one’s account page, one can perform a simple search in the search box. On the resulting page, one can somewhat refine one’s search by limiting the result to title or author, and by selecting some rough facets of categories (such as ancient books or republican-period books—note that all categories are listed, even if not applicable), tags (biaoqian  标签 ) or publisher.
Under a cover image of each result, one can choose to see more details on the book, or decide to read it by clicking on the book. If choosing to read it, one is brought to a reader interface where one can display the table of contents, navigate forward and backward within a book, and change the display from one page to two pages at a time and vice versa. Printing (by right-clicking, one page at a time) does not work very well—it may be better to take screen shots.

Depending on the copyright status of the book, one will receive a request after viewing a couple of pages to check out the remainder of the chapter (jieyue 借阅). One receives a message that borrowing was successful (if the item was not borrowed by someone else), and can continue to read.

To return the chapter to the CADAL library, navigate to the borrowing page (jieyue in the top navigation bar), where one can see the status of one’s checking in-and-out. Click, if not yet selected, on the weihuan 未还button, and then return chapters by clicking on guihuan 归还 after each chapter one has checked out. And remember to log-out (also possible from this page.)

One can look at one’s notes, tags, comments, messages etc.  from the navigation bar, and there may be recommendations listed based upon one’s readings.

National Library of China e-resources - 中国国家图书馆数字资源

The National Library of China (NLC) has opened 21 databases on its 中国古籍保护网 to the public.

Included are the following database covering only the collection of NLC (if not otherwise noted):

数字古籍 Digital Rare books

数字方志 Digital Gazetteers (Some of the items are offered with side-by side reading of the transcribed text. The text however is not full text searchable. Most of the gazetteers included here are already available at Princeton in a full-text searchable database China Comprehensive Gazetteers).

中华寻根网 China genealogical database (The database offers a sophisticated search system. It includes bibliographic information on almost 30,000 家谱, and gives reading access to more than 2,000 (probably mostly from the collections of Shanghai Library). It also provides an overview of family lineages for each family name and has biographical entries for 14,000 individuals. Over 6,000 gazetteers are also linked into this system which makes it quite a powerful tool for genealogical research).

赵城金藏 Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka (This Buddhist canon was printed between about the ninth year of the Huangtong era of Xizong of the Jin dynasty and is therefore referred to as Jin Tripitaka. The Jin Tripitaka was based on the tenth-century Kaibao Tripitaka. It has great documentary value because many of the sutras in this edition of the canon are missing from other editions. The database only gives access to the scans. Princeton has access to a full-text searchable version of both the Qisha Song Tripitaka and the Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka via the Fojiao Jingdian ku).

年画撷英 Chinese New Year prints

碑帖精华 Rubbings database (Particularly strong for the Tang and the Qing. Where available the date of the making of the rubbing is included in the database. The database allows full-text searching of the transcribed text!)

宋人文集 Collected works of the Song (focuses on first editions).

甲骨世界 Oracle Bones (Two sub-databases containing images of original oracle bones and rubbings of oracle bones).

西夏文献 Tangut texts (Mostly of Buddhist nature. The texts are cataloged by Chinese titles).

西夏论著 Tangut Studies Bibliography

前尘旧影 Historic photographs

徽州善本家谱 Collection of Huizhou Jiapu

中华医药典籍资源库(测试版)Classical works of Chinese Medicine (Beta)

法藏敦煌遗书 Dunhuang collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF)

云南图书馆古籍 Yunnan Library Rare Books

天津图书馆古籍 Tianjin Library Rare Books

上海图书馆家谱 Shanghai Library Jiapu collection

东文研汉籍影像库 Rare books from the Toyo Bunko

哈佛大学善本特藏 Shan ben from Harvard Yenching Library

中华古籍善本联合书目 Chinese Shanben Catalog (图录 of 3,481 editions of 善本 in Chinese and international collections. In most cases only the first page of the first juan is available for viewing. The information provided about the holding institutions is rather cryptic.)

Regrettably, NLC does not currently provide a central search index to all of the databases above. Most of the collections however are actually listed in the Guji faxian system. An empty search in this system will bring up a complete list of purely bibliographic entries and entries for scanned rare books from many libraries from China and beyond. Selecting the 开源 option allows browsing the free online collections of all libraries by subject (an extended 四库 classification). This function might in many cases provide better discovery options for the material in the free NLC collections that the actual databases above, but many of the links in Guji Faxian have not yet been update to the free version of the NLC databases.

National Palace Museum Open Data

This database gives free access to high-resolution images and related description articles of art pieces (painting, documents, calligraphy, ceramics, jades, curios, rare books and bronzes) in the (Taiwan) NPM collections. Descriptions can be viewed in Traditional  Chinese and English. One can search by category, dynasty, gallery and multimedia (video or 3D Digital).

National Palace Museum Collections = 國立故宮博物院. 典藏資源

This websites collects links to a range of free databases offered by the National Palace Museum, including databases with collection information for bronzes, paintings, rare books, decorative motifs, genealogical documents, rare books, Qing dynasty documents.

Princeton Chinese Shadow Figures Collection

Quanguo baokan suoyin = 全国报刊索引

The Quan guo bao kan suo yin 全 国报刊索引 (National Index to Chinese Newspapers & Periodicals) databases compiled by Shanghai Library are a group of databases giving access to articles published in Chinese periodicals from 1833 to current. Some are categorized index-only (in Chinese, pian ming shu ju ku 篇名数据库), some have the full-images of the indexed articles; the content itself is not text searchable (confusingly, and wrongly, this database is called in Chinese quan wen shu ju ku, 全文数据库). The image databases are restricted to the late Qing and Republican periods; post 1949 the database includes indexes only, and in most cases it would be better to serach the China Academic Journals database instead.

The two kinds of databases are integrated on one and the same platform. Downloadable articles show a pdf icon.

For most flexible search, click on the "search center" icon (进入检索中心.) You can then specify which database(s) to search, etc.

The full-image databases include the Late Qing and part of the Republican Periodical databases (Wan Qing qi kan quan wen shu ju ku 晚清期刊全文数据库,1833-1911, and  Minguo shi qi qi kan quan wen shu ju ku民 国时期期刊全文数据库, 1911-1949).The Late Qing databases includes more than 300 journals (270,000 articles, approximately all those published). The Republican full-image database will continue to expand in the next few years. A guide on how to best use the integrated platform is included here; you can ignore the section on “log-on”, which on the Princeton campus is IP-based and automatic.

The database also includes a large number of Chinese language newspapers that are indexed on the article title level. Full-text searches are not possible. One important feature of the database is that it indexes images (mostly news photography) and advertisements.

The index databases for the Late Qing and Republican databases are larger than the full-image databases. This database is to be complimented by the Dacheng laojiukan database. The index databases pian ming shu ju ku 篇名数据库 include more than 30 million citations.

To request articles not available in full-image please write to the Chinese Studies Librarian.