Tour of the British Library, 23 April 2015

Posted by: Cathy Kim  |  Posted on: May 14th, 2015


Royal commemorative manuscript of 1809

A small but enthusiastic group of BKS members enjoyed a private tour of the British Library with two of the Library’s curators; Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections and Sara Chiesura, Lead Curator of the Chinese collection.

Hamish started with an introduction to the British Library quoting many amazing statistics involving miles of shelves. He then took us to a viewing room where highlights from the East Asian collections were laid out for us to pore over at leisure.

Sara’s selection included some early Chinese woodblock printing with the finest of detail, a 1671 New Testament in Latin and Chinese, a Buddhist text with illustrations on fig leaves and a Ming dynasty banknote along with other lavishly illustrated texts. The star of the Korean collection was the 1809 “Record of the Presentation Ceremony and Banquet in the Kisa Year” illustrated in great detail. Equally impressive was the 1864 set of 22 maps covering the entire Korean peninsula. The Japanese items included a late 16th century illustrated scroll showing the visit of a famous warrior to the Palace of the Long Nosed Goblins.

All these items were so engrossing we had to be ushered out by the curators to avoid getting locked in the library overnight. Afterwards they joined us for a Chinese meal in a nearby restaurant.

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