Treasures from Shandong on show at South Australia library
CANBERRA -- Buddhist sutras from hundreds of years ago and a copy of the oldest city map in Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong province, are on display in South Australia.
An exhibition named "One mountain, one river, one sage: Treasures from the Shandong Library" opened on Friday at the State Library of South Australia in Adelaide. With 172 exhibits, including 31 before China's last dynasty Qing, the exhibition runs until Jan 20, 2019.
According to Li Yonghui, vice director with the Shandong Library, the mountain, river and sage were Mount Tai, the Yellow River and Confucius.
"They represent the importance of nature and philosophy in Chinese history and culture," she said.
The oldest original items on show are five books of Yongle Beizang Buddhist sutras, which were engraved and printed between 1419 and 1440.
"The cover was made of silk of golden thread," she said. "From these books we could see the high quality of silk hundreds of years ago."
The sutras were translated by Xuanzang, Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler and translator who traveled to India in the seventh century during the early Tang Dynasty (618-907). He was deified in the classic novel Journey to the West.
"I once saw a painting depicting Xuanzang's journey in a gallery here in South Australia," Li said. "So we brought the books here this time to make Xuanzang's story more complete."
Li told Xinhua that Shandong is hometown of many great scholars and she also brought exhibits related to their works, like the colored drawing Loyal Dog completed between 1851 and 1908.
Loyal Dog is a story from the Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling (1640-1715).
"In fact, the Chinese cultural heritage was guarded by generations," she said. "We librarians are also loyally guarding the cultural heritage. In a sense we are also like Loyal Dog."
Another important exhibit is a copy of the earliest hand-drawn city map of Jinan. The original piece was completed in 1889. The copy, three meters long, shows visitors details of the city 130 years ago.
"In the State Library of South Australia they have a photo taken in the late 1800s," Li said. "It is interesting to put the map and the picture together."
Several Chinese experts also demonstrated woodblock printing and how to repair the ancient books at the opening day of the exhibition. The Shandong Library will hand out some bookmarks with stamps of Chinese zodiac to visitors.
"We are pleased to welcome our colleagues from Shandong Library to South Australia and to be a part of this valued two-way exchange of cultural and library expertise," said Geoff Strempel, acting director of the State Library of South Australia.
"As the keepers of the memories and stories of generations of South Australians, it is fitting to connect and enrich the South Australian community with opportunities to engage with, and learn more about Chinese history and culture," he said.