East Asian manuscripts


The East Asian collection encompasses around 3,250 manuscripts in the Korean, Japanese, Nachi and Chinese languages. From point of view of quantity, the group of Chinese manuscripts is the largest group with over 3,000 specimens, followed by Japanese (almost 100) and Korean (75). In contrast, the collection includes only nine Nachi manuscripts (Cod.Nachi).

Overview in the order of languages

Korean manuscripts – Cod.cor.

This manuscript collection group is fairly young with regard to the overall history of collection, since the acquisition of Korean manuscripts was started only in 1982. Among the already catalogued books there is for example a miniature manuscript with calligraphies of the Yi dynasty (Cod.cor. 26), which was created around 1700, and a handy atlas going back to approximately the same time.

Handy atlas  (Cod.cor. 72)

Further information

Japanese manuscripts – Cod.jap.

The Codices japonici comprise predominantly bibliophile manuscripts and also prints, part of which can be distinguished from manuscripts only with difficulty. These pieces were created in a period reaching from the 12th to the 19th century. There are several outstanding pieces among the early Japanese manuscripts of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Among other things, a Buddhist sutra manuscript of the year 763 (Cod.jap. 20), a magnificent sutra scroll of around 1150 – 1172 with golden writing on dark blue paper (Cod.jap. 13), or two sutra scrolls on the iconography of Shingon Buddhism of around 1350 (Cod.jap. 12, Cod.jap. 15) should be mentioned in particular.

A particular gem is the adorned manuscript of the Genji monogatari (Cod.jap. 18), crafted around 1615 as a wedding present for a member of the Tokugawa family. The dark blue covers show scenes from this famous novel in gold and silver, the text is executed in elegant calligraphy. Also the richly illustrated Genji kokagami, an abbreviated version of the Genji monogatari, dating back to between 1673 and 1681, is crafted very artistically and painstakingly (Cod.jap. 14).

Genji monogatari  (Cod.jap. 18)
Genji kokagami  (Cod.jap. 14)

Further information

Chinese manuscripts – Cod.sin.

Among the total of around 3,000 Chinese manuscripts created in the time between the 7th and the 19th century, there are for example various Buddhist and Daoist texts, popular writings, as well as decrees, deeds and contracts. Three manuscript scrolls from Dunhuang from the time of the Tang dynasty (618 – 907) are particularly outstanding (Cod.sin. 4, Cod.sin. 89 and Cod.sin. 90). The largest portion of the Chinese manuscripts is constituted by the around 2,800 predominantly religious texts written in Chinese script from the people of the Yao who were native to southern China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

A smaller portion of the books classified as Codices sinici are prints instead of manuscripts. Among these works, the books of the Jesuit order that was active in the evangelisation of China during the 17th century merit special mention (Sino-Jesuitica; i.a. Cod.sin. 23, Cod.sin. 24 and Cod.sin. 31). Among the outstanding pieces forming part of the collection of old Chinese works of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, there is also a deed by the Emperor Shunzhi commending Johann Adam Schall von Bell (Feng tian chi yu / Titulus honorificus; Cod.sin. 112).

Jin gang ban ruo bo luo mi duo jing: can juan  (Cod.sin. 4)
Aleni, Giulio: Tian zhu jiang sheng chu xiang jing jie  (Cod.sin. 23)
Ferdinand Verbiest: I hsiang t'u. Liber organicus Astronomiae Europeae apud Sinas restitutae  (Cod.sin. 24)
Antonio de Gouveia et al.: Innocentia victrix  (Cod.sin. 31)
Feng tian chi yu. Titulus honorificus: Certificate of honour issued by the Emperor Shunzhi for Johann Adam Schall von Bell  (Cod.sin. 112)
History of the imperial dynasty in Vietnam  (Cod.sin. 215)
Jiu huan mi yu. Secret instructions miyu for rituals for fending off diseases and for redemption of the dead  (Cod.sin. 608)
(Yi ben) zhao bing ke. Liturgy in heptasyllabic verses for a ritual for recruiting "ghost soldiers"  (Cod.sin. 823)

Digital East Asia Collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Further information