Online Chinese encyclopedia

Chinese encyclopedia

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.

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.

See also


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