Chinese encyclopedias are encyclopedias published in the Chinese language or encyclopedias about China and Chinese-related topics. In Chinese, encyclopedias are known as bǎikē (百科) or dàdiǎn (大典), which literally means "book of a hundred subjects," and "great canon", respectively and can trace their origins to the late Han dynasty, in the third century CE. Encyclopedic works were published in China for well over one and a half thousand years before China's first modern encyclopedias were published after China's economic liberalization in the 1980s, during the reform period. Several encyclopedias have been published in China since then, including several specialist and children's encyclopedias. The major title currently available - in both paper and online versions - is the Encyclopedia of China (Zhōngguó Dà Bǎikē Quánshū), published by Encyclopedia of China Publishing House.
Since the 21st century, with internet use proliferating, a number of online encyclopedias have been started. The three largest online Chinese encyclopedias are Hoodong, Baidu Baike and Chinese Wikipedia.
The contribution from China
to the history of encyclopedias
is distinctive and covers almost two thousand years. Traditional Chinese encyclopedias differ from the modern encyclopedia in that they are mainly anthologies of significant literature
with some aspects of the dictionary
. Compiled by eminent scholars
, they have been revised rather than replaced over hundreds of years. In the main, they followed a classified
form of arrangement; very often their chief use was to aid candidates for the civil service
The first known Chinese encyclopedia, the Huanglan ("Emperor's Mirror"), was prepared by order of the emperor about 220 CE, but no part of this work has survived. Part of the Bianzhu ("Stringed Pearls of Literature"), prepared about 600, is still in existence. About 620 the Yiwen leiju ("Anthology of Art and Literature") was prepared by Ouyang Xun (557-641) in 100 chapters divided into 47 sections. The Beitang shuchao ("Extracts for Books") of Yu Shinan (558-638) was more substantial and paid particular attention to details of the organization of public administration. An annotated edition, edited by Kong Guangdao, was published in 1880.
Encyclopedias written in Chinese
- Administrative Districts Encyclopedia of China (1999)
- Baidu Baike (October 2005), second largest online Chinese encyclopedia
- Beijing Encyclopedia (1991; 2002) World's largest municipal encyclopedia. Compiled by more than 3,000 people over a period of 5 years, the reference consists of 20 volumes with more than 17 million words and over 10,000 items and illustrations. Has eight volumes covering Beijing's history, geography, districts, politics and society, economy, science, education, culture, health and tourist sites.
- Bencao Gangmu, also known as Compendium of Materia Medica, is Chinese materia medica work written by Li Shizhen in Ming Dynasty.
- Book by category, one kind of reference book in ancient China.
- Britannica Online, Traditional Chinese Edition (February 2004), the first full-length online encyclopedia in traditional Chinese, a joint publication of Britannica and Yuan-Liou Publishing Company of Taiwan
- Chinese Children's Encyclopedia, 4-volume encyclopedia, published by Zhejiang Education Press (ZEP)
- Chinese Encyclopedia (1981-83), Taiwan
- Chinese Towns Encyclopedia (2000) Details 20,000 Chinese towns, focusing on their economies.
- Cihai, combines dictionary and encyclopedia
- Concise Encyclopædia Britannica, 11-volume short-entry encyclopaedia in the Chinese language, published in Beijing in 1985–91, as a joint venture between Encyclopedia of China Publishing House and Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
- Concise Huaxia Encyclopedia, published by Huaxia Press in Beijing. See "Huaxia".
- Chinese Wikipedia (October 2002), online
- Diplomacy Encyclopedia of China (2000)
- Dream Pool Essays, written by Shen Kuo in the Song Dynasty
- Encyclopedia of China (1978), the first large-entry modern encyclopedia in the Chinese language.
- Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas (1998). Chinese Heritage Centre, Singapore.
- Encyclopedia of Republic of China (2001) 16,000 entries on the Republican Era (1911-49). Published by Jiangsu Ancient Books Publishing House.
- Fayuan Zhulin, a Buddhist encyclopedia compiled AD 668 by Dao Shi
- Finest Blossoms in the Garden of Literature, an anthology of poetry, odes, songs and writings from the Liang Dynasty to the Five Dynasties era
- Four Great Books of Song, compiled by Li Fang and others during the Song Dynasty
- Gujin Tushu Jicheng, a vast encyclopaedic work written in China during the reigns of Qing emperors Kangxi and Yongzheng, completed in 1725
- Hoodong (2005), largest online Chinese language encyclopedia
- Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era, a massive encyclopedia in the Song Dynasty
- Macao Encyclopedia (1999), the first specialist encyclopedia on Macao, published by the Macao Foundation
- Military Encyclopedia of China (2000) China's largest military encyclopedia. Comprises over 50,000 short entries.
- Modern Science and Technology Encyclopedia (2000)
- Mongolian Studies Encyclopedia (1999)
- Prime Tortoise of the Record Bureau, largest encyclopedia compiled during the Chinese Song Dynasty
- Sancai Tuhui, compiled by Wang Qi and Wang Siyi, completed in 1607 and published in 1609
- Shanghai Encyclopedia (1999; 2008), most comprehensive reference on Shanghai; has more than 7 million words, published by the Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House.
- Shanxi Encyclopedia (2002) Published by Zhonghua Book Company; contains 8.1 million Chinese characters and 5,000 images, and is the first large reference which documents the province's history, culture, society and economy.
- Siku Quanshu, largest collection of books in Chinese history and probably the most ambitious editorial enterprise in the history of the world
- Resource Sciences Encyclopedia (2000)
- Tàipíng guǎngjì, a collection of stories compiled under the editorship of Li Fang, first published in 978
- Traditional Mongolian Medicine Encyclopedia (2000).
- Yiwen Leiju, a encyclopedia completed during the Tang Dynasty by the calligrapher Ouyang Xun
- Yongle Encyclopedia (1403), a compilation commissioned by the Ming emperor Yongle -- one of the earliest and largest at the time.
- Zhong Hua Da Dian ("The Great Encyclopedia of China") (2008), . On China's cultural history from the Qin Dynasty to the 1911 Revolution.
Other related encyclopedias
Though not technically Chinese encyclopedias because they are not written in Chinese, there have been many specialist works in other languages that have focused on China itself as a subject. These include:English:
- Berkshire Encyclopedia of China (2008), Berkshire Publishing Group. Linsun Cheng (Editor).
- Cambridge Encyclopedia of China, Cambridge University Press.
- Encyclopedia of China, Dorothy Perkins.
- Encyclopedia Of Contemporary Chinese Civilization (2005), Greenwood Pub Group. Jing Luo (Editor).
- Science and Civilization in China, Cambridge University Press.
- Nagel's Encyclopedia Guide: China Nagel Publishers, Geneva, 1968.