This archive, generated in the course of founding and managing of the spinning factory by a pioneering entrepreneur of his time, signifies significant aspects of social transition at the turn of 20th century. While the experiences themselves are not exclusive to China, but shared by neighbouring countries in East Asia, this archive appears to be rare if not unique in documenting these. It is noteworthy that the figure’s conversion from a top-ranking degree holder to a leading entrepreneur shows that era’s changes in cultural climate as well as in values.
Written in pictographs and pictorial symbols by the Shui people in the southern mountainous region of Guizhou Province, items in this collection are used in religious rituals, interpreting the language and songs of the Shui ethnic group and are the original religious classics used by Shui character masters (wise men). The documents are unique, and in a very valuable array of formats, forming a rich cultural trove that feeds modern day communities of Shui, keeping alive this knowledge. This nomination is of particular relevance to be inscribed during the United Nations Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).
The International Conference on Safeguarding and Increasing Access to the Documentary Heritage of the Silk Routes has been held in Fuzhou, China, from the 6-8 November 2018. The meeting was organised by the National Archives of China, in cooperation with the East Asian Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (EASTICA), and hosted by the Fujian Provincial Archives.
The meeting brought together delegates from China, SAR Hong Kong, SAR Macau, Japan, Korea and Mongolia to share information the different documentary heritage relating to the Silk Road and Spice Routes held in their collections, and then discussing cooperation strategies for safeguarding and increasing access to them.
A number of MOWCAP Bureau members and Special Advisors were invited to participate and speak at the seminar, including: Misako Ito, who gave an overview of UNESCO’s Silk Road initiatives; Ray Edmondson, who shared an update on the current state of the MoW program; and Andrew Henderson, who outlined how MOWCAP acts to support regional cooperation for documentary heritage preservation/access.
An exhibition on Documentary Heritage Along the Silk Road was also held in conjunction with the seminar at the Fujian Provincial Archives. The exhibition featured documents from the National Archives of Chine, some of which had never been exhibited before.
The program from the seminar can be found here.
The Four Treatises contain the sowa rigpa theoretical system and practice of Tibetan medicine developed since the 8th century AD combining the pre-Buddhist Bon knowledge and practices with Chinese, Indian and Persian medical traditions. It was further advanced in the 12th century to become more detailed and complete. Over the years it was translated into English, German, Mongolian, Japanese, Russian and other languages.
The texts consist of four xylograph versions, known as Drathang (1546), Tadan (1640), Chagpori (1892), and Gadan Phuntsok Ling (1662) and one gold-ink handwritten version (1942), all stored at the Mentseekhang Traditional Tibetan Hospital in Lhasa. The wood blocks of all except Chagpori were completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Among the five versions, the four xylograph versions of the Four Treatises, which were handed down from generation to generation, were the greatest treasure among all the ancient sowa rigpa texts collected by the Chagpori Sowa Rigpa School from all over Tibet in 1698. They were kept there until 1916, and have been well preserved in the Mentseekhang Traditional Tibetan Hospital since then.
It is noted that if other alternate versions or related documents are identified, they could be eligible for addition to the inscription at a later date.
The Archives of Nanyang Volunteer Drivers and Mechanics (Nanqiao Jigong) focus on more than 3,000 drivers and mechanics residing in Nanyang (an old Chinese name for Southeast Asia) who provided international material transportation during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. The nominated archives consist of original, mostly hand-written documents generated in the process of recruitment, deployment and repatriation of overseas chinese volunteers as truck drivers during 1937-1947.
The documents are not only a record of wartime support by civilian volunteers from the overseas chinese community but also a testimony of the distinctive bonds between Chinese homeland and emigrant society in Southeast Asian countries.
The official records consist of 3,600 documents mainly from the mid eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. They are the official correspondence between the Chinese authorities in the Guangdong region of China and the Portuguese authorities in Macau, and are written in both Chinese characters and Portuguese. Some non-government records are also included in the collection.
The port of Macau was the gateway to China and of strategic international importance for the development of EastWest trade and the exchange of ideas and knowledge between China and the rest of the world. The records are evidence of this importance and the topics covered include, economic and trade issues, Christian missionary activity, shipping and diplomatic relations between Macau and Asian and European countries. The records also include activities within Macau such as urban development, industrial and agricultural growth and trade. They are a major original source for understanding the Qing dynasty’s policies during the period of Western colonial expansion in China.
The collection was transferred to the care of the Senhora da Graça Convent in Lisbon, Portugal, in the late 19th century and then transferred to the National Archive of Torre do Tombo (Portuguese National Archives). It is likely that the collection was first transferred from Macau to Portugal by missionaries who recognised its importance and the need for more secure storage. In 2015, a memorandum of understanding between Macau and Portugal was signed for the management of the records and includes agreement for collaboration on the conservation and digitization of the collection.
The collection consists of documentary heritage from the late Ming Dynasty to the mid-20th century and was started in 1925 when Zhang Shou Bo (18681946), also known as Kung Bun Master, returned to Macau, built the Temple Kong Tac Lam, supported by community leaders and charitable donations. They organised the Macau Buddhist College and started collecting Buddhist documents. There are now over 6,000 items in the collection they started, including rare books, old photos, celebrity letters, manuscripts, painting and calligraphy, and Buddhist texts in different types of formats. The collection also includes documentation of the activities of the Buddhist Masters and intellectuals associated with the Temple after its establishment.
Prior to establishing the Temple, Zhang Shou Bo had established schools, advocated for the abolition of opium and for improving the status of women. The archives and manuscripts are evidence of the continuation of this work by the Masters and intellectuals and the role they played in spreading Buddhist teaching and ideology in Macau, China and neighbouring regions. Those associated with the Temple provided education for women and promoted the link between education and social status for women. Their activities also influenced similar activities in Hong Kong and China. During the Second World War Macau was a neutral city and the documentation is evidence that during this time it became a haven for intellectuals who continued to progress and advocate for their social causes.
The collection includes documentary heritage on palm leaves, manuscripts, fine silk, wood engraving and photographs. Most of the items are unique, although other copies of the rare books may exist in other repositories. A comprehensive catalogue which uses the ‘Professional Classification Scheme on Buddhist Literature’ is available for public use at the Temple.
The archives provide a record of the life and activities of the Confucius family descendants over the 400 years from 1534 – 1948. They consist of 9,021 volumes and are held in the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, Shandong Province, China, which was the residence of the direct descendants of Confucius. Few documents prior to 1534, the middle of the Ming dynasty, have survived. Most of the documents are from the Qing dynasty (6,256 volumes) and the Republic of China (2,433 volumes). Only four volumes from the period are known to be missing.
A family tree of direct descendants from Confucius has been maintained and covers the most generations of any family tree in China and possibly the world. The Archives also include records of how the family kept the ideology of Confucius alive. The temple and cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1994.
The Archives of the Confucius Family are significant because of their quantity, long time span and coverage of both domestic and official activities. They complement the official files of the time and offer insights into many aspects of the life of the family. They include documents on the visits of emperors, Chinese feudal society, religious practices, domestic life, social affairs and many other activities. They also include correspondence with the royal court and officials and are an important contributor to the study of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the Republic of China during the period.
The Archives of Suzhou Silk Samples of Modern and Contemporary Times span a period of one hundred years in the 19th and 20th centuries and consist of 302,841 silk samples in 28,650 volumes from 41 silk enterprises. Eighty two percent of the samples were produced by weaving and eighteen percent were produced by printing and dyeing. The samples were collected in a two-year period starting in 2003 and are mainly from Suzhou, although the collection also includes samples from other silk producing provinces. Many of the samples also have technical information attached.
The archives contain the fourteen main categories of silk fabrics: habotai, crepe, satin, twill, chiffon, faille, velvet, gauze, tapestry satin, brocade, silk poplin, spun silk, taffeta.
They also include examples of Song brocade which has been listed as one of China’s intangible cultural heritages and is on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Archives can be used to study the exchange of technologies and industrial techniques between the West and China and also to research the beginning of Chinese industrial development. Silk was also sold to other countries. These silk patterns were specially designed for the specific country and mirror the changes over the period in the social culture of these countries. The Archives of Suzhou Silk Samples of Modern and Contemporary Times are also inscribed on the China national register for Memory of the World.
The DOUBLE STELLAR HEMISPHERE (hereinafter referred to as the Map) was printed in the 7th year of Chong Zhen Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1634), xylographically printed in eight vertical sections of fine Chinese native paper, well mounted with blue palace silk for screen hanging. Each section is 171,5 cm high and 56,5 cm wide, and when the eight sections are put together side by side, the whole Map is approximatley 200cm ×452cm, which includes the mounting margin. The Map is constituted of 20 colorful pictures ( 16 star charts and 4 pictures of astronomical instruments) and 2 legends.