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Subject guide

Chinese Special Collections

The Chinese Special Collections are part of the Asian Library. Items can be consulted at the Special Collections Reading Room.

After the foundation of the library of the Sinological Institute in 1930 a number of Chinese and Sino-Western manuscripts (and 11 early printed books) remained in the central library building, kept in the Oriental manuscripts collection (partly Yao MSS), in the Royal Academy loan collection (Acad. 223-230) and in the BPL collection (papers of the Dutch sinologists Hoffmann, Schaalje and De Grijs). For more information see the collection guide: Collection Chinese and Sino-Western manuscripts and early printed books.

In 1930, most of the about 850 Chinese books in Leiden University Library (described by G. Schlegel in 1881 and 1886) were transferred to the library of the Sinological Institute. Some books were already in the library since the 1600s, but most were acquired after the 1870s. From the 1930s, the director of the Sinological Institute, Prof. J.J.L. Duyvendak, also actively acquired many rare and special editions in China., currently some 3,000 (古籍善本).They  can be found in the online catalogue; most shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. VGK”. For more information on the oldest part of the collection see: K. Kuiper, G. Schlegel's Catalogues of Chinese books in the Leiden University Library (1883; Supplement 1886), Leiden 2016. See also the collection guide: Collection of old Manchu and Mongolian books and manuscripts.

This collection contains a large part of the  library of the Dutch sinologist, diplomat and writer of detective stories Robert Hans van Gulik 高羅佩 (1910-1967). This collection is best known for its old Chinese fiction (novels), books on music (qin) and art, but it also comprises special editions such as old Japanese block-prints of Chinese works, and Chinese and Japanese studies. It also contains several congshu. The 757 titles (excluding congshu) can be found in the online catalogue; shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. Gulik”. For more information see the collection guide: Collection Robert Hans van Gulik.

This collection comprises most of the personal Chinese library of Go Sian Lok 吳善祿 (1874-1943), a Chinese merchant in the Netherlands Indies who had received a traditional Chinese education. It is a rare example of a Chinese personal library that has been kept together, and it is in particular interesting because it is a relatively common library for practical purposes. The collection contains 303 different items, numbered Go 1-273, and can be found in the online catalogue; shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. Go". For more information see the collection guide: Collection Go Sian Lok.

This collection consists of Chinese Protestant works from before about 1855 and contains 109 titles. Most of these were originally kept in the Nederlands Zendeling Genootschap (Netherlands Missionary Society) and Nederlands Bijbel Genootschap (Netherlands Bible Society). There are 36 works by Gützlaff and other works with notes written by him on the cover, and all these can be found in the online catalogue; shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. Gutz”. More early Protestant works are kept in other collections. For more information see the collection guide: Collection Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff.

This collection contains the sinological library of Prof. Dr. A.F.P. Hulsewé (1910-1993), who was professor of Chinese in Leiden from 1956 to 1975. The majority of these works represent the special interests of Prof. Hulsewé: ancient Chinese law (Qin, Han and Tang law), the history and archaeology of the Han dynasty, and the early history of the Western regions (Xinjiang). The collection’s items are numbered Huls 1-241, and can be found in the online catalogue; shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. Huls”. For more information see the collection guide: Collection Anthony François Paulus Hulsewé.

This collection of Chinese books was originally kept by the Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (KNAG, Royal Netherlands Geographical Society) and was donated to the Sinological Institute in 2004. It contains parts of the personal Chinese libraries of four nineteenth-century Dutch sinologists who worked as interpreters in the Netherlands Indies (G. Schlegel, C.F.M. de Grijs, J. van der Spek, B.A.J. van Wettum), as well as 54 Protestant works. The collection’s items are numbered KNAG 1-252 and can be found in the online catalogue; shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. KNAG”. For more information see the collection guide: Collectie Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap.

The Kong Koan Archives are the original Chinese and Malay archives of the Chinese Council (Chinese Raad or Kong Koan 公館) in Batavia dating from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These are the only pre-modern archives of overseas Chinese that have survived. Most of the papers have been digitised. For more information see the collection guide: Archive of the Kong Koan of Batavia (吧城公館).

·         Local Gazetteers 地方志 —The library also holds a growing collection of local gazetteers (local histories) of the Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasties (960-1911) and the Republican period (1911-1949). More than 2000 items can be found in the online catalogue using the search term “China gazetteers”.  The older gazetteers with traditional Chinese bindings can only be found in the card catalogue.

·         Congshu 叢書— The library holds a large collection of Congshu    or Chinese ‘collectanea’. These 150 collected works contain over 23.000 thousand titles, all of which can be found in the online catalogue.

·         Pre-1949 journals — The library holds a large collection of journals from the Imperial period (before 1911) and the Republican period (1912-1949). The paper and electronic journals can be found in the online catalogue; the ones on microfilm or microfiche can only be found in the card catalogue.

·         Unofficial poetry journals — In 2006, Professor Maghiel van Crevel donated his collection of unofficial poetry journals from the People’s Republic of China to the Chinese library. This is an internationally unique collection, acquired during his extensive fieldwork since 1991, dating from the first publications after the Cultural Revolution in 1978 until the beginning of the twenty-first century. These publications can be found in the online catalogue; shelfmarks begin with “SINOL. UNPO”. for a complete survey see Van Crevel’s Unoffical Poetry Journals from the People’s Republic of China: A Research Note and an Annotated Bibliography (MCLC Resource Center).