Seminar examines value of Dunhuang literature

Updated: Apr 10, 2023 By Yang Yang China Daily Print
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The complete compilation of annotated catalogues presents Dunhuang ancient Tibetan manuscripts that are kept in the National Library of France. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A seminar on the publishing of A Complete Compilation of the Annotated Catalogue of Dunhuang Tibetan Literature Kept in the National Library of France and the digitalization of related literature was held on March 26 in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

It was co-organized by Guangxi Normal University Press and Xi'an International Studies University.

Ancient Tibetan manuscripts from Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, recorded information concerning society, culture and the history of the Tibetan regime of Tubo (7th-9th century) in ancient China. However, parts of the manuscripts are still kept overseas, specifically in the United Kingdom and France. The ancient manuscripts, taken by French explorer and Sinologist Paul Pelliot in 1908, now kept in the National Library of France, are most valuable, wrote Zhao Yong, lecturer from the Institute of Area Studies with XISU, in an article published in the newspaper Chinese Social Sciences Today, which introduced the compilation.

The Complete Compilation presents the 3,176 volumes of ancient Dunhuang Tibetan manuscripts kept in the National Library of France in the form of an annotated catalogue, including the titles, sources, description, and research regarding each volume. The compilation team has surveyed all existing literature and catalogues of Dunhuang Tibetan manuscripts kept in the National Library of France that have been opened to the public. Based on the research of previous scholars, they have provided detailed supplements, revisions and improvements, to make an important contribution.

Their work on compiling the Tibetan manuscripts kept in the library is rich in content and rigorous in style, bringing research into the Dunhuang manuscripts to a new height, Zhao wrote.

In a speech at the launch ceremony, Zhao Tie, deputy Party secretary of Guangxi Normal University, said: "The publishing of the Complete Compilation and the construction of a related database will promote the research and publication of Dunhuang Tibetan literature and related fields, and advance the protection and inheritance of Dunhuang literature."

Based on the existing catalogues of the Dunhuang Tibetan literature kept in the National Library of France, the new compilation includes the literature catalogue of related research, trying innovative methods to make it more convenient and timely to search for and find information.

Wang Qilong, vice-president of Xi'an International Studies University and chief editor of the Complete Compilation, said the work is the fruit of dialogue between scholars over three generations from home and abroad. Ancient Dunhuang Tibetan literature was, is, and will always be an academic treasure trove worth exploring, Wang said.

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