The headquarters of the China National Archives of Publications and Culture is located in the Changping district of Beijing, housing more than 16 million historical texts, records and archives and tens of thousands of exhibits: from historic, cultural and scientific documents, inscriptions and ancient books, to audio records, tickets and stamps. It serves as a "gene bank" of Chinese culture and a showcase for Chinese civilization.
The design of this institute was inspired by traditional Chinese courtyard architecture, consisting of the Wenxing Pavilion, the Wenhua Pavilion and the Wenhan Pavilion.
Two precious ancient relics highlight the Wenxing Pavilion. One is a Tangut-script translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts, created during the 13th century. It's the earliest existing printed book using the technique of wooden movable-type printing. The other is a copy of the book discovered in Japan a few decades ago. The copy may have been part of Sino-Japanese cultural exchanges during the 13th century.
At the Wenhan Pavilion, there are copies of 26 precious ancient books, including "Yongle Canon" and "Siku Quanshu."
"These are the latest photocopies of 'Yongle Canon.' It has over 200 volumes. And "Siku Quanshu" was the largest collection of books in Chinese history. There were originally seven copies, but only four of them have been preserved. What we have here are a collection of photocopies," Zhao Yinfang, a staff member at the China National Archives of Publications and Culture explains.
The "Siku Quanshu," also known as "Emperor's Four Treasuries," is the largest collection of books in Chinese history with more than 36,000 volumes. The ancient encyclopedia was compiled more than 200 years ago during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty and represents an important historical archive of Chinese culture.
From ancient to modern times, the institute serves as a time machine offering visitors the chance to travel through time and space. Various editions of the Xinhua Dictionary are also on display. The first copy of the Xinhua Dictionary was published in 1953. The dictionary is so far the best-selling Chinese dictionary and the world's most popular reference work, with 12 editions and 600 million copies having been distributed worldwide.
The other three branches of the institute are located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong Province. They all feature multiple spaces serving as exhibition halls, libraries, archives and art museums.