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Britain Presents CD of Ancient Chinese Encyclopedia

A British researcher presented Wednesday China a CD about one book of an ancient encyclopedia -- the Great Encyclopedia of the Yongle (Yongle Dadian), the earliest and largest of its kind in the world.

The presenter, David Helliwell, of the University of Oxford, said he discovered the book at the University of Aberdeen by accident two years ago.

His discovery has brought the encyclopedia's collections in Britain to 51 books.

Helliwell said the book kept by the University of Aberdeen had been damaged by water but well repaired now.

Yongle Dadian was the largest encyclopedia in China. Compiled between 1403 and 1407 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the encyclopedia contains 22,877 volumes in 11,095 books. It is 12 times that of the famous encyclopedia compiled by the French author Diderot in the 18th century.

Much of the Yongle Dadian was destroyed during foreign invasions.

James Russell Brazier, who donated the book to the Aberdeen University, had worked for the Imperial Maritime Customs of China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) 100 years before.

It is estimated only about 400 books of the encyclopedia remain in the world, being kept in eight countries and regions.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2002)

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