This collection of valuable Chinese Classics which enjoys long history, including a amount of original editions and their easily available versions reprinted in existing facsimile-form, block-prints, transcripts and lithographs.
Preface: Chinese classic texts or canonical texts refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the “Four Books and Five Classics” of the Neo-Confucian tradition, themselves a customary abridgment of the “Thirteen Classics”. All of these pre-Qin texts were written in classical Chinese. All three canons are collectively known as the classics.
Chinese classic texts may more broadly refer to texts written either in vernacular Chinese or in the classical Chinese that was current until the fall of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing, in 1912. These can include shi (史, historical works), zi (子, philosophical works belonging to schools of thought other than the Confucian but also including works on agriculture, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, divination, art criticism, and other miscellaneous writings) and ji (集, literary works) as well as jing. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Four Books and Five Classics were the subject of mandatory study by those Confucian scholars who wished to take the imperial exams to become government officials. Any political discussion was full of references to this background, and one could not be one of the literati (or, in some periods, even a military officer) without having memorized them. Generally, children first memorized the Chinese characters of the “Three Character Classic” and the “Hundred Family Surnames” and then went on to memorize the other classics. The literate elite therefore shared a common culture and set of values.
Scholarship on these texts naturally divides itself into two periods, before and after the burning of the books during the fall of the Qin dynasty, when many of the original pre-Qin texts were lost.
List of Free Sources:
World Digital Library
The WDL has stated that its mission is to promote international and intercultural understanding, expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences, and to build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and among countries. It aims to expand non-English and non-western content on the Internet, and contribute to scholarly research. The library intends to make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials.
The WDL opened with 1,236 items. As of late 2015 it lists more than 12,000 items from nearly 200 countries, dating back to 8,000 BCE.
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more.
Forgotten Books is the world’s largest online library with 484,473 books available on demand. This website has been designed using the very latest technologies to provide our members with many features never seen before. Its flagship technology Intelligent Bookshelf™ is a world leader in book recommendation and uses artificial intelligence to determine exactly the books you’d most like to read from our vast library.
More than just books; Forgotten Books also features advanced analytical data. Every single word, page and image inside each and every one of our 484,473 books have been analyzed, indexed and classified. With this valuable research information, we can tell you virtually anything about anything, from the most commonly used word in fiction books published in 1765, to the book with the most images of cats in the first 20 pages. Or perhaps some more useful information, such as a list of every word in the English language in order of usage frequency.
Chinese Text Project
The Chinese Text Project is an online open-access digital library that makes pre-modern Chinese texts available to readers and researchers all around the world. The site attempts to make use of the digital medium to explore new ways of interacting with these texts that are not possible in print. With over twenty thousand titles and more than three billion characters, the Chinese Text Project is also one of the largest databases of pre-modern Chinese texts in existence.
You may wish to read more about the project, view the pre-Qin and Han, post-Han or Wiki tables of contents, or consult the instructions, FAQ, or list of tools. If you’re looking for a particular Chinese text, you can search for texts by title across the main textual sections of the site.
Internet Sacred Text Archive
Sacred texts went live on March 9th, 1999. This site is a freely available archive of electronic texts about religion, mythology, legends and folklore, and occult and esoteric topics. Texts are presented in English translation and, where possible, in the original language.
Online Books by Legge, James (1815-1897)
James Legge (Chinese: 理雅各; 20 December 1815 – 29 November 1897) was a noted Scottish sinologist, a Scottish Congregationalist, representative of the London Missionary Society in Malacca and Hong Kong (1840–1873), and first Professor of Chinese at Oxford University (1876–1897). In association with Max Müller he prepared the monumental Sacred Books of the East series, published in 50 volumes between 1879 and 1891.
- Sacred Books of the East, PDF ebooks at holybooks.com
- Sacred Books of the East, at sacred-texts.com
- Scanned pdfs of complete set of Sacred Books of the East
CHINAKNOWLEDGE – a universal guide for China studies
Chinaknowledge.de provides information about Chinese history and culture to a wide public, from academicians and highschool pupils to the interested “layman”. The Chinaknowledge encyclopedia contributed by Dr. phil. Ulrich Theobald (田宇利) and his team, systematically use the modern Hanyu pinyin 漢語拼音 transcription, except for some names which are commonly known with other transcriptions in the West (like Chiang Kai-shek, Taipeh or Hong Kong. Beijing is Peking.). Except in tables concerning the People’s Republic of China they consistently use the correct traditional characters (fantizi 繁體字).
CHANT (CHinese ANcient Texts) / 汉达文库
CHANT (CHinese ANcient Texts) / 汉达文库, Chinese University of Hong Kong – Large corpus of texts, all carefully entered and proofread, but requires paid subscription. Now uses Unicode for characters wherever possible.
Established in April 2005, forerunner of the Research Centre for Chinese Ancient Texts is the Chinese Ancient Texts (CHANT) Database Project that began in 1988 at the Institute of Chinese Studies. Its goals are to build up an electronic database of the entire corpus of traditional and excavated ancient Chinese texts, to conduct relevant researches, and to publish the findings via different media.
Scripta Sinica / 汉籍电子文献
Scripta Sinica / 汉籍电子文献, Academia Sinica (Taiwan) – Uses nonstandard fonts to display rarely used characters. Accessing most of the content requires paid subscription; access restrictions can be frustrating for non-subscription users as these are either poorly documented or unreliable, and in some cases limit access to less than a single chapter of even a single text – even for those texts included in the free version.
Thesaurus Linguae Sericae
Thesaurus Linguae Sericae, University of Oslo – Subtitled “An Historical and Comparative Encyclopaedia of Chinese Conceptual Schemes”. Ambitious site which includes much information about words and their semantic and syntactic properties. Extensive and powerful, it has a steep learning curve.
General Editor: Christoph Harbsmeier 何莫邪; Associate Editor: Jiang Shaoyu 蔣紹愚
China the Beautiful
Initial publication date of China the Beautiful is 2-15-1994. It covers Classical Chinese Art, Calligraphy, Poetry, History, Literature, Painting and Philosophy, edited by a Board of Advisers and Contributing writers.
The Harvard Classics / Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
The Harvard Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, is a 51-volume anthology of classic works from world literature, compiled and edited by Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot and first published in 1909. The most comprehensive and well-researched anthology of all time comprises both the 50-volume “5-foot shelf of books” and the the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century.n 1910, Dr. Charles W. Eliot, then President of Harvard University, put together an extraordinary library of “all the books needed for a real education.”
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The Harvard Dictionary of Music
The Harvard Dictionary of Music (Harvard University Press Reference Library)
- 《左传》(《春秋左传》)(Tso Commentary / Zuo Zhuan / Zuo Tradition / Commentary of Zuo / Chunqiu Zuo zhuan):
- Bilingual text of Zuo Zhuan with side-by-side Chinese original and Legge’s English translation
- Fully searchable text (Chinese):
- 《前汉书》 (The History of the Former Han Dynasty):
- Bilingual text with side-by-side Chinese original and Homer H. Dubs’s English translation (Digitized text does not retain volume or page numbers and alters Dubs’ footnote numbering.)
- Fully searchable text (Chinese):
- John Barrow (1804). Travels in China: Containing Descriptions, Observations, and Comparisons, Made and Collected in the Course of a Short Residence at the Imperial Palace of Yuen-Min-Yuen, and on a Subsequent Journey Through the Country from Pekin to Canton. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies.
- Sir John Barrow (19 June 1764 – 23 November 1848):
- Bibliography: Sir John Barrow, Bart., F. R. S.
- The earliest known music notation of Guci with Old Baban style may appeared in the English statesman and writer Sir John Barrow’s travel notes in 1804. John Barrow was attached on the first British embassy to China from 1792 to 1794 as comptroller of the household to Lord Macartney. With the help of “an English gentleman in Guangzhou”, he recorded the variant of popular Guci in relatively complete Neume.
- Chinese Popular Airs. No. III. In: John Barrow (1804). Travels in China: Containing Descriptions, Observations, and Comparisons, Made and Collected in the Course of a Short Residence at the Imperial Palace of Yuen-Min-Yuen, and on a Subsequent Journey Through the Country from Pekin to Canton. p. 319. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies. The related sound material in MIDI format could be downloaded from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28729/28729-h/music/popair3.mid.
- Fully searchable text:
- Full text in HTML:
- Fully free download:
- All sound files of music in MIDI format could be freely downloaded:
- All images could be freely downloaded:
- Sir John Barrow (19 June 1764 – 23 November 1848):
- 《周礼》（The Rites of Zhou）
- The Rites of Zhou (周禮), originally known as “Officers of Zhou” (周官, Zhouguan) is actually a work on bureaucracy and organizational theory. It was renamed by Liu Xin to differentiate it from a chapter in the Book of History by the same name. Such purely administrative texts are usually referred to as Legalist, but the text’s governmental model is one of co-governance, with the ruler’s family holding in hand a particularly aristocratic-bureaucratic state, as opposed to the absolutist administration of Han Fei. To replace a lost work, it was included long with the Book of Rites and the Etiquette and Ceremonial – becoming one of three ancient ritual texts (the “Three Rites”) listed among the classics of Confucianism.
- The work consists mainly of schematic lists of Zhou dynasty bureaucrats, stating what the function of each office is and who is eligible to hold it. Sometimes though the mechanical listing is broken off by pieces of philosophical exposition on how a given office contributes to social harmony and enforces the universal order. The division of chapters follows the six departments of the Zhou dynasty government. The bureaucrats within a department come in five ranks: minister (qing), councilor (da fu), senior clerk (shang shi), middle clerk (zhong shi) and junior clerk (xia shi). There is only one minister per department -the department head-, but the other four ranks all have multiple holders spread across various specific professions.
- The book is divided into six chapters:
- Offices of the Heaven (天官冢宰, Tianguan Zhongzai) on general governance;
- Offices of Earth (地官司徒, Diguan Situ) on taxation and division of land;
- Offices of Spring (春官宗伯, Chunguan Zongbo) on education as well as social and religious institutions;
- Offices of Summer (夏官司馬, Xiaguan Sima) on the army;
- Office of Autumn (秋官司寇, Qiuguan Sikou) on justice;
- Office of Winter (冬官考工記, Dongguan Kaogongji) on population, territory, and agriculture.
- Commentaries on the Rites of Zhou
- 本书作者为林希逸（1193-1271年），字肃翁，号鬳斋，福建福清人。林氏于 1235 年登进士，历官考功员外郎，终中书舍人。今所见《考工记》系为补《周礼》（The Rites of Zhou）缺失部分。卷首有清人查慎行（1650-1727年）手书题记。书中有叶盛（1420-1474年）的叶氏菉竹堂藏书朱文圆印、毛煲的毛煲字华伯号质庵白文方印和查慎行的得树楼藏书朱文长方印，可知此书曾经诸家收藏。
- 《周礼》（The Rites of Zhou）原名《周官》，由讲一般统治之《天官》、征税与土地分割之《地官》、教育、社会与宗教制度之《春官》、用兵之道之《夏官》、司法之《秋官》与人口、疆域和农事之《冬官》六篇组成。西汉（公元前 206 – 公元 8 年）时，最后一篇佚失，取《考工记》补入。《考工记》内容涉及手工业 20 余种不同工种的设计规范及制造工艺。林氏此《考工记解》比起汉儒更推崇新儒学，古籍中未有对古器制度的详细介绍，即使有也古奥难懂，所以为使注释浅显易懂，又加入了《三礼图》中有关《考工记》的部分，方便初学者。此本宋版漫漶难识，元代修补版极多，版心下方有记“延祐四年（1317年）补刊”字样。书叶亦颇有残阙，但著名藏书家傅增湘（1872-1949年）于《藏园群书题记》跋中称从另一藏家处得此宋版书后“乃惊喜过望”。
- A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China
- Charles O. Hucker (June 21, 1919 – November 18, 1994), was a professor of Chinese language and history at the University of Michigan. He was regarded as one of the foremost historians of Imperial China and a leading figure in the promotion of academic programs in Asian Studies during the 1950s and 1960s.
- Charles O. Hucker (1985). A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press).
- Source: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1068612.files/Hucker%20Official%20Titles%20OCR%20Searchable_All%20Pages.pdf
- Harvard online version: Charles O. Hucker (1985). A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press) (6 downloads) (Note: Members only. Only logged in users will be able to access the file via this download link.)
All ancient books which have once been called sacred by man, will have their lasting place in the history of mankind, and those who possess the courage, the perseverance, and the self-denial of the true miner, and of the true scholar, will find even in the darkest and dustiest shafts what they are seeking for,–real nuggets of thought, and precious jewels of faith and hope.
— Max Müller (Introduction to the Upanishads Vol. II.)