Visible Traces: Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China showcases an integral part of Chinese history as documentation and as works of art. The collection of inscribed oracle bones, rubbings, manuscripts, maps, printed books, and artifacts from minority cultures traces, in broad strokes, the evolution of the written and printed word in China, against the vivid backdrop of Chinese society and history. The exhibition is divided into 4 main sections: "Rare Books and Manuscripts," "Epigraphical and Pictorial Rubbings," "Maps and Atlases," and "Texts and Illustrations from China's Ethnic Minorities." Among the highlights of the exhibition are a Tang-dynasty Dunhuang manuscript of the Lotus Sutra dated 695; examples of color printing, including the "Ink Garden of the Cheng Family" from 1606, "The Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting" from 1644, and the second series of the "The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting" from 1701. The section on rubbings features many important pieces, including the "Inscription for a Buddhist Image Constructed to Commemorate the Duke of Shiping," well known as one of the "Four Exemplars from Longmen"; a rubbing taken from the monumental "Map of the Prefectural City of Pingjiang", among others. The final section features Buddhist sutras, texts, historical writings, and illustrations in various non-Chinese scripts such as Mongolian, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Tangut, Manchu, Yi, Dai, and Naxi (pictographic and Geba). The catalogue includes about 180 color plates, full descriptive essays for every object in the exhibition, notes and references pertaining to each work, and an extensive bibliography listing more than a century of monographs, articles, exhibition catalogues, and reference works related to the exhibits.
Arts & Photography, History & Criticism, Regional,