Newsletter No. 58 (July 2011)

Special Materials Relating to Chinese Studies at Monash University Library

Dennis Kishere

Chinese Studies Librarian
Monash University

A painting of Dinghai  定海  by William Alexander in his Costume of China. London, 1805

This article is based on my presentation at the Library Panel during the Chinese Studies Association of Australia conference on 15 July 2011.  In the presentation I used Powerpoint slides to highlight a selection of less common and sometimes unique materials which are held in closed areas of the library at Monash University and which are of interest to researchers in Chinese Studies. I have included some of those images in this article.

At the Asian Studies Research Collection we acquire mainstream books, journals and audiovisual materials as well as databases relating to Chinese Studies in a similar manner to other libraries with Asian language collections.  However, what makes our collection unique, and indeed what makes other library collections unique, is the extent to which we are able to collect important and unusual materials which are not available via the usual acquisition streams.  

These materials include rare books, pamphlets, films and  ephemera.

Most  academic libraries have some unique, rare or special materials which can be usefully described and drawn to the attention of students and researchers.

Since such materials are not kept on the open shelves they cannot be browsed and they are not always easily discoverable from the catalogue.  I do not want such valuable materials to be overlooked by researchers.

These special materials are mainly kept in the locked areas of the Asian Studies Research Collection.  These  collections include Special Materials Collection, the Australia Tibet Council Collection, Norodom Sihanouk Collection, Indonesian Historical Collection and Southeast Asian Pamphlets. Other relevant  materials are kept in the library’s Rare Books Collection.



The Chinese Melbourne Daily 墨爾本日報.

The  newspaper’s office is in Wellington Street, Collingwood.  Our holdings start  from 2004. The newspaper is periodically donated to our library by the newspaper’s proprietor. 

The Chinese Melbourne Daily features general news about Australia and news about Chinese communities in Australia as well as news about mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other overseas Chinese communities.  The advertisements in the newspaper are an interesting reflection of ethnic Chinese life in Australia and include such categories of services as feng shui consultants. Community announcements reflect the lifestyle and observances of Chinese people and commercial advertisements  record ethnic Chinese business activity in Australia.  

Unlike some other papers, The Chinese Melbourne Daily is prepared to feature “sensitive” topics about China, such as Ai Weiwei’s detention and citizen protests.  

School Texts

In my presentation I described the Chinese school textbooks which we collect and which have been sought after by researchers. Apart from purchasing contemporary textbooks, we have been able to acquire older textbooks such as 1980s high school textbooks from Taiwan for the study of Chinese literature. They contain excerpts from classical authors with explanatory notes. They have prefatory pieces by Chiang Kaishek, Sun Yatsen, and Chiang Chingkuo.

We also have 1107_kishere_3.jpgschool textbooks for studying Chinese literature published in 1930.





Astrological Almanacs.

There are various names in Chinese for this genre  of publication including :

tong shu 通書 and min li 民曆.

These almanacs are an important source of traditional Chinese beliefs regarding annual events. It was originally an agricultural almanac but it also includes advice on geomancy (feng shui風水, kan yu 堪輿), physiognomy (xiang shu相術), auspicious naming (mingming 命名) and similar topics. The booklets also contain auspicious and invocatory paper strips for affixing to walls.  In recent years the content of these almanacs have become adapted to the requirements of urban lifestyles.  They are an important guide to how traditionally minded Chinese people lead their daily life. It is a widely purchased book and yet one not systematically collected and retained by libraries. Traditionally, superseded copies of the almanac are burned in temple ritual incinerators.

Almanacs can be purchased but they are also quite often published and distributed for free.

Community Publications
We hold issues of the magazine produced by a local Melbourne Taiwanese community association. The magazine is a record of Taiwanese community activities in Melbourne:

Moerben Taiwan Tong Xiang Hui Hui Xun  墨爾本臺灣同鄉會會訊.

The Suetsugu Collection

 1107_kishere_4.jpgThis copy of the Guo Yu 國語 was published in Osaka in 1854 and is part of the library’s Suetsugu Collection. The Guo Yu consisted of historical records of states between the Western Zhou and 453 BC.
This copy has Japanese annotations and punctuation which preserve a traditional interpretation and analysis of Chinese classics which would be otherwise lost.
This and other texts are from the personal library of Mr Susumu Suetsugu of Matsue in Western Japan who donated the books  to his friend Captain Shepherd of the Australian Army in the late 1970s. Shepherd later donated them to  Monash University Library.



 1107_kishere_5.jpgA copy of the Cai Zi Gu Wen 才子古, 文also from the Suetsugu Collection. This copy was published in China in 1684.  At some stage it found its way to Japan .  The Cai Zi Gu Wen was a collection of essays published during the Qing dynasty.





South East Asian Pamphlets and Serials Collection

Monash University Library acquired this large collection of nineteenth and twentieth century  Indonesian and Dutch language pamphlets partly by purchases by the Asian Studies Librarian on her visits to the Netherlands in the 1960s and 1970s and partly from donations by Monash scholars who collected the publications during field trips to Southeast Asia. Most of these pamphlets are in Indonesian, Dutch, or regional languages. At present the collection is only partially catalogued. Many of them are unique as library materials. Some of them bear the names of the scholars who collected them.

The collection includes publications about the Indonesian Chinese communities. There are also publications of various Chinese community organisations and studies of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.
The library has other publications relating to Indonesian Chinese, including the Dutch language weekly news periodical Sin Po . This weekly was published by Indonesian Chinese and featured articles by Chinese on various topics including Chinese community affairs. It also contains photographs of local events.

Other materials in this collection relevant to Chinese Sudies inlucde Nanyang Post, a pro-Communist newspaper containing articles mainly in Indonesian but also in Chinese.

I also highlighted these pamphlets during my talk:

1107_kishere_6.jpg Chinesche  Aanteekeningen omtrent Nederlandsch Indie. ‘sGravenhage, 1858.  This book contains information on Chinese activities and customs around the Dutch East Indies. It also contains Chinese language  linguistic information pertaining to Indonesia.





Chung Hua Tsing Nien Hui.  Djakarta : 1946 – 9 Juni 1951. This booklet was produced on the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Zhonghua Qing Nian Hui 中華青年會. It contains articles, advertisements and photographs of the ethnic Chinese community in Jakarta.




1107_kishere_8.jpgBuku Peringatan Ulang Tahun ke X, Thian Lie Hwee.[Tenth Birthday Commemorative Book of the Thian Lie Hwee]. Djakarta. 1957.
This book in Indonesian records the activities of another community organisation, the Thian Lie Hwee.




Indonesian Historical Collection

The Indonesian Historical Collection consists of early twentieth century and pre-twentieth century books mainly in the Dutch language. Amongst the books are many which have detailed information on the life of ethnic Chinese in the Netherlands East Indies.

1107_kishere_9.jpgI showed images of a  selection of such books in my talk. These included  the Chineesch-Hollandsch Woordenboek van het  Emoi-Dialekt / J Francken.  Batavia. 1882.   This is a dictionary of the Xiamen 夏門 variety of Minnanyu 閩南語. The dictionary includes non-standard characters which are peculiar to Minnanyu.




1107_kishere_10.jpg  Beschrijving van den Koan Iem Tempel “Tiao-Kak-Sie” te Cheribon / J. Ezerman. Batavia, 1919. This book desribes a Guanyin 觀 音 temple in Ceribon in north Java.


In en om de Chineesche Kamp / J. Moerman. Weltevreden, 1929. This book was published in Weltevreden which  was a new city centre for Batavia (Jakarta) built in the nineteenth century. This book is concerned with the Chinese quarter of the city and the diagram here is of the layout of a typical Chinese house. One needs to be able to interpret the Dutch romanisation of Minnanyu words, for example  “Thian Tjiang” is the Mandarin  tianjing 天井 .



Australia Tibet Council Collection

 Several years ago the Australia Tibet Council donated some of their older materials to our library. This collection contains 200 magazine titles and various videos. Some of the videos feature Jiang Zemin’s visit to Australia in 1999 and the big pro-Tibet protest rallies. Democracy activist Wei Jingsheng took part in the protests.

 Rare Books Collection

China Illustrata by Anathasius Kircher. Amsterdam,1667.

1107_kishere_12.jpgThe library’s Rare Books Collection holds a wide selection of books and other materials relating to Chinese Studies. The book in this slide China Illustrata was written by Athanasius Kircher, a seventeenth century German Jesuit scholar who was interested in Oriental Studies. It includes a transcription of the Nestorian Stele at Chang’an (Xi’an) of 781 in Chinese and Syriac with a Latin translation by Kircher. This is considered to be the first publication of the text of the stele in Europe. The text discusses the Nestorian Christian clergy in China.
The book also contains a romanised list of the Chinese characters in an older type of  Mandarin pronunciation.

Athanasius Kircher drew on the works of Jesuits working in China for his writings.

The full title is of the book:
Athanasii Kircheri e Soc. Jesu China monumentis quà sacris quà profanis, nec non variis naturae & artis spectaculis, aliarumque rerum memorabilium argumentis illustrata, auspiciis Leopoldi Prime, roman. imper Amstelodami, apud Joannem Janssonium a Waesberge & Elizeum Weyerstraet ,1667.

Original editions of this book sell for several thousand dollars from internet booksellers
Another important book in our Rare Books collection is the official account of the 1793 British mission to the court of the Qianlong emperor:

An abridged account of the embassy to the emperor of China, undertaken by order of the king of Great Britain  : from the papers of Earl Macartney / as compiled by Sir George Staunton. London, 1797

We also have a copy of the French translation published a couple of years later: This indicates something of the wider European impact of the book:

Voyage dans l'intérieur de la Chine, et en Tartarie, fair dans les années 1792, 1793 et 1794 / par Lord Macartney ... redigés sur Les papiers de Lord Macartney sur ceux de Sir Erasme Gower ; par Sir Georges Staunton ; traduit de l'anglais ; avec des notes, par J. Castéra.  Paris, 1799.

 1107_kishere_13.jpgThis is an illustration of the Great Wall of China in the French translation of the  Macartney book.





The Macartney led to the publication of other interesting books.

This is a painting of Dinghai  定海 (now part of Zhoushan City)  by William Alexander in his Costume of China. London, 1805.  Alexander was a draughtsman on the Macartney mission.  This book contains numerous illustrations by Alexander of daily life in China. See the front of this handout for the image.



1107_kishere_15.jpgIllustration title : ”Examination of a culprit before a Mandarin”
This is also from the Costume of China. The caption reads: 
“The subject represents a female charged with prostitution.  Such an offender is generally punished publicly with a pan-tsee or bamboo. “

Missionary  Books

We have a range of books by and about Christian missionaries in China. Many of these books came from the personal library of Monash academic, the later Pete Clarke. One of the earlier ones is:
1107_kishere_16.jpgMrs Henrietta Shuck : the First American Female Missionary to China  / by J.B. Jeter. This biography of Henrietta Shuck (1817-1844) includes information and perceptions of China and Southeast Asia by the author based on Shuck’s personal papers. The genre of missionary books is interesting not only for the illustrations and photographs but also for the observations of missionaries who were often close to the common people:


Childrens’ Publications

We have collected a number of Chinese childrens’ publications from the period of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).   This genre of publication,  xiao ren shu 小人书 ,  seems not to be something which is published anymore.

Kang Ri Xiao Ying Xiong  抗日小英雄. This is an example of the sort of materials which both reflect and contribute to anti-Japanese feelings in China.  They can be viewed alongside contemporary (and ephemeral?) Chinese web site postings which have called for boycotts and demonstrations  as part of the ongoing anti-Japanese narrative in China.

The other booklets feature the theme of anti-Confucianism and the Criticise Confucius and Lin Biao campaign of the early 1970s.  These are a contrast to the position Confucius now enjoys in China.

Norodom Sihanouk Film Collection.
This is a collection of videos copied from 16mm  films made by Chinese film studios of various official visits by Norodom Sihanouk to China and visits by Chinese leaders to Cambodia. The video copies of the films, which were made by Xinhua News Agency for the King, were donated to Monash University Library by the King-Father of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk.  The library has had many of the videos converted to DVD and the collection is being documented and inventoried for the library by Norodom Sihanouk’s official biographer  and ambassador Mr Julio Jeldres who is a researcher at Monash Asia Institute.

In my presentation I selected some clips from films of the King’s visits to China dating from 1956. Liu Shaoqi is prominent in the films (he was later purged in 1969). The last clip is from a video cassette marked 1970. It is not clear exactly which month in 1970. Neither Mao nor Lin Biao is in this film but I have not viewed all the other relevant films yet.

Other films feature later visits to China by Norodom Sihanouk and visits to Cambodia by Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in 1960 and President Liu Shaoqi in 1963.

The films are an important record of the political strength of various leaders at the time of the King’s several visits and also the level of development and cityscapes of Beijing and other parts of China from the 1950s to the 1980s.
In this article I have just featured a small selection of the interesting material relating to Chinese Studies which can be found in our library.




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