Yongle Dadian: An Emperors’ Encyclopedia – The Sol M. and Mary Ann O’Brian Malkin Lecture

Date: 29 July 2024
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: UVA Edgar Shannon Library, Room 330
Lecturer: Li Wei Yang - Curator of Pacific Rim Collections at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Yang’s talk recounts his rediscovery of an unknown volume of Yongle dadian (known as the Yongle Encyclopedia in the West) in the rare book storage room of The Huntington Library in 2014. Classified as a national treasure in the People’s Republic of China and revered in much of the Chinese-speaking world, Yongle dadian consisted of 11,095 manuscript volumes when the original set was completed in 1408. A second identical manuscript set was commissioned in 1567. Due to a variety of internal and external factors, only about 416 volumes from the second set are still extant as of 2024, and they are scattered in libraries and museums across Asia, Europe, and the United States. Yang will examine the book’s history, its bibliographic significance, the Boxer Uprising, and his ongoing research and curatorial projects related to the book.