The collection comprises a total of 654 volumes of manuscripts published in the Ming and Qing dynasties, with Chronicle of Yongzhou being the earliest composed for its history dates back to the reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing. Previously collected by renowned contemporary bibliophile Liu Chenggan, the 16 books from the Jiaye Book Library Tower are now the most precious items housed in the Chinese Ancient Books Chamber. Of the collection, Manuscript of Siku Quanshu’s Synopsis by Weng Fanggang was inscribed in the third batch of the National Directory of Rare Ancient Works with reference no. 08139.
Rare Book Collections
The Chinese Ancient Books Chamber at Sir Robert Ho Tung Library currently houses 10,000 volumes of traditional thread-binding books, and 10,000 volumes of hardback and paperback books, with around 5,000 volumes of which being Chinese rare books published before 1912. The collections of the Chamber can be divided into seven main categories as follows:
Collection from the Jiaye Book Library Tower
Religious Writings by Western Missionaries
The collection comprises a total of some 20 volumes of religious writings published between the reign of Emperor Tongzhi in the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China, including The Pilgrim's Progress, The Holy War, Bible History for the Least and Lowest, Holy Bible and other preaching materials for religious tenets and doctrines.
Traditional Primers and Contemporary Textbooks
The collection comprises dozens of volumes, and published during the period between the late Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China, including traditional primers such as Sidenotes of the Four Books in Vernacular Chinese, Supplementary Exposition of the Whole Text of the Book of Rites, The Book of Filial Piety for Women and Revised Supplementary Exposition of the Classic of Poetry and contemporary textbooks such as The Latest Textbook on Chinese History, The Latest Textbook on Chinese Literature and Textbook on Physical Hygiene for Primary Education.
Textbooks for Chinese Language Learning with English Remarks
The collection comprises dozens of volumes, and published during the period between the late Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China, including Progressive Lessons for the Study of Spoken and Written Chinese and The Classified List of Miscellaneous Important Terms, to name a few.
Local Historical Documents
The collection comprises about 100 volumes of items published during the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China. Quite a lot of information about Macao’s history can be found in Xiangshan Xianzhi (Gazetteer of Xiangshan County) since the city was under the jurisdiction of Xiangshan County during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Chamber houses three editions of Xiangshan Xianzhi (Gazetteer of Xiangshan County), which are the block-printed editions published during the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong, the Qing Emperor Daoguang and in the period of the Republic of China. There are also several other items under this category, such as Annual Report of Kiang Wu Hospital in 1922, Words of Warning to a Prosperous Age II, and primers in vernacular Chinese by Chen Zibao.
Thread-binding Military Textbooks during the Westernisation Movement
The collection comprises a total of 17 textbooks on Western military, which were translated and printed by the Jiangnan Machine Manufacturing General Bureau. The textbooks were published during the reign of Qing Emperor Tongzhi and Qing Emperor Guangxu, including Marine Steam Engines for Military Vessels, Maintenance of Marine Steam Engines, Mapping for Military Use and Operators of Military Vessels.
Important Donated Books
The collection comprises more than 5,000 volumes of items mainly published during the period of the late Qing dynasty and the 1960s, including books donated by three schools in Macao received in the 1990s (of which, over 1,600 were donated by Tong Nam School; over 1,300 by Seong Fan Evening Middle School; and over 700 by Lai Kwan Middle School); 208 books by renowned Macao educational scholar Ms. Lau Sin Peng received in 2002; 202 books of 26 types by renowned Macao real estate developer Mr. Ng Lee Fan received in April, 2004; 1,294 ancient books of 226 types by Ms. Sam Mau Lan, the descendant of Kuong Mau Heong, in the name of her father Mr. Sam Sek Hong received in August, 2013.
Among the donations by Ms. Lau Sin Peng, Essential Principles of Mathematics, Imperially Composed is the earliest Western mathematics textbook introduced into China, containing contents such as Western mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and so on.
- Wong, K.P. & Chan C.L. (8-9 November, 2016).Valuable Books in Macao: Digitisation of Rare Books in the Chinese Ancient Books Chamber at Sir Robert Ho Tung Library & Memoirs of International Seminars on Collation and Bibliography of Chinese Rare Books, p.50-57. Sun Yat-sen University Library.
- Tang, C.C. (2012). Macao Rare Book Collections, p.21-33. Hong Kong: Joint Publishing (HK).
- Wong, K.P. (26 July, 2010). Manuscript of the Synopsis of Siku Quanshu’s Synopsis by Weng Fanggang Introduced into Macao (8th ed.). People’s Daily (Overseas Edition).