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Tibet opens rare ancient books to readers worldwide

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-23 14:39
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In 2009, Tibet launched its largest ever survey of ancient books. Over the past decade, the surveyors have traveled to every corner of the region that covers more than 1.2 million square km, with the goal of preserving every last ancient book.[Photo/Xinhua]

Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region has filled an online "treasure house" with priceless ancient books for lovers of Tibetan culture worldwide.

As part of efforts to protect the ancient culture, the regional ancient book protection center announced it had uploaded rare ancient books with over 20,000 folios to an online platform under the official website of the Tibet Library.

Users can search, copy and download the valuable books for free on the platform, which covers biographies of Tibetan scholars and the history of Tibet and Buddhism that span from the 12th to the 20th century.

Ancient culture at fingertips

A lover of ancient books, Qungda, a senior citizen in the regional capital Lhasa, marvels at the convenience of the platform. After reading several articles via a mobile phone with the help of his son, he said the platform not only makes it convenient for readers but represents an innovative way of protecting and utilizing ancient books.

"It clearly manifests the country's protection of traditional Tibetan culture," he added.

"The precious books uploaded this year, mainly biographies, cover the knowledge of the ancient Tibetan society, economy and folk customs, which provide valuable materials for the study of Tibetan culture and history from multiple perspectives and disciplines," said Penpa Tsering, deputy director of the center.

"Previously only a few scholars read the books due to the complex application procedure and other steps," he added. "Now they are available for global readers and can better serve society."

Considering the precious ancient books as a fragile cultural resource, the center has adopted a slew of advanced techniques such as non-contact high-definition scanning to prevent any damage to the books.

"The scanning was supervised throughout the whole process, so as to avoid any damage," said Tselo, a staff member of the center.

Meanwhile, experts have adopted special techniques to process the original pictures of the books with the purpose of preventing piracy and other improper use.

"The platform will play a leading role in the country's digital online sharing of ancient Tibetan books. I believe there will be more similar platforms in the future as a solid foundation for the preservation and inheritance of traditional Chinese cultural classics," said Penpa Tsering.

Since its trial operation on April 25, 2020, the platform has received nearly 100,000 visits, setting a record high for the library's website.

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