The Digital Catalogue of Chinese Buddhism

A catalogue of Chinese-language Buddhist publications from 1860 to 1949
Compiled and edited by Gregory Adam Scott 史瑞戈 編輯

Project Description and Manual
Last Updated: October 2013

  1. Background and Similar Projects
  2. Research Sources
  3. XML Formatting

Background and Similar Projects

I began work on this project in early 2011 as part of my dissertation research. At the time I was trying to track down information on the history of several publishers in Republican-era China who had published a significant number of religious works relating to Buddhism. Although I knew about a few digital resources online, including the bibliography hosted at and OCLC's WorldCat, there was a lack of well-cited, organized bibliographic data. Believing this to be a resource that many scholars in field such as Buddhist Studies and modern Chinese history would find useful, I started researching print bibliographies that I thought were well-written and reliable. I settled on four major sources that would form the core of the bibliography and over the following year incorporated their bibliographic data on Buddhist publications into an XML file. My aim was to compile a bibliography that was based upon a number of sources and which could be edited for accuracy and expanded in the future. I chose XML because it is very easy to work with especially for non-experts like myself. It is very human-readable, it can easily be incorporated into a number of database programs, and it is possible for interested researchers to write simple scripts to convert it into any other format they wish.

In autumn 2011 I started writing a Python script to read the XML entries and output a well-formatted bibliography, a script that eventually grew into the interface of the online bibliography. This script does not add anything to the core data; it only searches through the entries and returns HTML-formatted pages as needed.

Both the core XML data and the Python script (as well as the site itself) are licensed under a Creative Commons license. Once they have reached a mature stage, direct download links for both the data and the script will be made clearly available on the website. The purpose of this is to encourage the widest possible use of the material, and to support the research and academic communities who rely on the free and open exchange of reliable information to do their work. While it is clear that basic bibliographic data, being facts and not creative products, cannot be copyrighted, it might be argued that the particular organization or format of a bibliography might be copyrightable. I therefore have put a CC license on all the data associated with the bibliography, which of course has no impact on the public domain data, nor on one's Fair Use or Fair Dealing rights.

An interesting project is currently under way to collect bibliographic data on all religious publications published in Shanghai between 1898 and 1948. Entitled "1898-1948: The Fifty Years that Changed Chinese Religion" 1898-1948: 改變了中國宗教的50年, this project will incorporate some of the data from this bibliography.

In September 2013, the name of this resource was changed from The Digital Bibliography of Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教電子書目 to its present name. The online interface was also upgraded to one running on PHP and MySQL.

Research Sources

Four major print-published sources were used to compile the starting core data of the bibliography. For each, only the basic bibliographic data was used; creative input such as annotations is protected by copyright and is thus not able to be incorporated into a CC-licensed project. An outline follows that describes each source and provides examples of how the data was organized, interpreted, and incorporated into the database. The headings refer to the short form of the title as cited in the XML data.

Long Xiangyang 龍向洋, ed., 美國哈佛大學哈佛燕京圖書館藏民國時期圖書總目 Catalogue of Books of the Period of the Republic of China Collected in Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University, U.S.A., Vol. 1 (Guilin: Guangxi shifan daxue chubanshe, 2010). Additional information from the HOLLIS online catalogue.

Sample Image of Bibliographic Source
Sample entry from Long Xiangyang, p. 110.

This was the first book that I processed, and is thus cited as the source of the first 401 XML entries. As indicated by the title, this is a catalogue of the works held in the Harvard-Yenching Library at Harvard University from the period 1912-1949. Data provided for each entry includes HOLLIS catalogue number, Harvard-Yenching Classification call number, title, persons involved and their role, publication place, publisher, and year, and edition. For many entries this data was compared with then-current data on the HOLLIS catalogue itself, and some errors and misprinted characters were corrected.

Huang Xianian 黃夏年, ed., Minguo Fojiao qikan wenxian jicheng 民國佛教期刊文獻集成 (Collection of Republican-Era Buddhist Periodical Literature), 209 Vols. (Beijing: Quanguo tushuguan 全國圖書館, 2006).

Huang Xianian 黃夏年, ed., Minguo fojiao qikan wenxian jicheng bubian 民國佛教期刊文獻集成.補編 (Supplement to the Collection of Republican-Era Buddhist Periodical Literature), 83 Vols. (Beijing: Zhongguo shudian 中國書店, 2008).

These two collections contain reprints of a total of 233 Buddhist periodicals from the Republican era. On their history and structure see MFQ guide hosted on the Database of Modern Chinese Buddhism wiki. Publication information is based on that printed in the reprinted publications themselves. The indices (Vols. 205 and 84 respectively) were also consulted for data on print runs; often the descriptions will note if a periodical had a limited run, or if its full publication history has not yet been determined.

Beijing tushuguan 北京圖書館, ed., Minguo shiqi zong shumu 民國時期總書目 (Bibliography of Republican-era Publications) (1911-1949), Vol. 2 (宗教) (Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1994).

Sample Image of Bibliographic Source
Sample entry from Minguo shiqi zong shumu, Vol. 2, p. 15.

The compilation of this source had already taken more than 20 years when this volume was published in 1994. The categories of works listed follow the format of the Chinese Library Classification 中國圖書館分類法, with one volume for every major category. Buddhist items appear under index nos. 181 - 1288 in this volume. Where the content of two or more editions is identical, they are collected under a single entry as illustrated above. Not shown are the copious and invaluable annotations on the item's content, which have not been incorporated into the digital bibliography. There are also notes on whether this item was found in the Beijing, Shanghai, and/or Chongqing municipal libraries.

Luo Cheng 羅琤, Jinling kejing chu yanjiu 金陵刻經處硏究 (A Study of the Jinling Scriptural Press) (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexue yuan, 2010).

This recent book includes a number of charts listing the publications of the Jinling Press. Charts 4-6 to 4-8 give bibliographic information on Republican-era single-title, collected, and reprint publications, a total of 159 items. Footnotes give more information, including whether a given text appears in the Taisho Canon or other collections. For all items, the place of publication is assumed to be Nanjing.

Yang Wenhui 楊文會, comp., Foxue shumu biao 佛學書目表 (Book Catalogue of Buddhist Studies) (Nanjing: Jinling kejing chu, [1902]). In Yang Wenhui, Yang Renshan quanji 楊仁山全集 (Hefei: Huangshan shushe, 2000).

One of the earliest Buddhist scriptural press catalogues published in China, this document lists works then being printed by the Jinling press. While most were originally carved by Jinling, a few are credited to Yangzhou- or Hangzhou-based scriptoriums and presses. A brief precis is included for each title, but has not been reproduced here. A few typographical errors in the reprint have been corrected. Most of the listed works also appear in the Luo bibliography.

Wherever a bibliographic item appears in one or more sources, the data has been combined into a single entry. The bibliographer has compared and edited the supplied data to be as accurate as possible within their judgement.

XML Formatting

XML is a very flexible system that can be used to store any type of information. Data is stored in a nested format that makes multiple values such as contributor names and roles much easier to organize. I have devised my own system for tags and data types rather than using one of the well-established bibliographic XML standards, simply because I wanted the format data to be as simple as possible, even at the cost of some interoperability. The meaning of and data type for each type of element used in the XML file are as follows. For those elements within an <item> that contain sub-elements of their own, these sub-elements are indicated by a dotted green margin line for clarity.

For all elements: If followed by a question mark then it is an educated guess by the bibliographer or the print sources. If enclosed in square brackets, then the data is from a source other than the publication information of the item itself; for example, secondary research and references in other publications.

master_bibliography.xml: The main XML file, UTF-8 encoded

<bib>: Contains the entire bibliography

In the future, metadata for the bibliography can be contained at this level

<item>: Contains one bibliographic item

<index>: Index number of the item, arbitrarily assigned according to order of processing. As editing progresses, some index numbers may have to be retired as formerly separate entries are combined.

<moved_to>: If present, gives the index number to where this entry was moved. This happens, for examepl, when two entries that referred to a single work were combined.

<source>: Source for the bibliographic data. Can have multiple instances in an item. Contains a <name> element and one or more of the others listed below:

<name>: Name of the source in a shortened format. The python scripts read this short form and output the full citation.

<index>: Index number for the source's bibliographic citation. Used for MSZS.

<page>: Page number for the source's citation.

<volume>: Volume in which this item is reprinted or appears. Used for MFQ and MFQB.

<title>: One title of the work. Can be multiple, for example in volumes that collect a number of texts. If an item has one or more translated titles that were part of the original publication (i.e. not supplied by the bibliographer) then these appear under one <title> entry. This element contains one or more of the following:

<zh>: Title in original Chinese characters (tag is from 'Zhongwen'). Note that the language used in the item itself may be Korean or Japanese.

<pinyin>: Transliteration of the Chinese title following the LOC pinyin standard, as provided by the bibliographer. Many characters have multiple readings so this should not be taken as authoritative.

<en>: English title of the work if appeared on original publication. Many of these were non-standard translations of the Chinese title.

<hepburn>: Japanese transliteration of the title using the Hepburn system. Used for works published in Japanese or which circulated in Japanese-language areas. No long vowels are indicated.

<subtitle>: Subtitle or additional information about the item. This tag ought to be split off in the future so that it contains only original subtitles to the item.

<fascicles>: Number of fascicles in the item. A fascicle is similar to a chapter-level division. The page length for and number of characters in a fascicle varies.

<volumes>: Number of volumes in the item. This refers to having a series of separate bound books for a longer work where a single binding would have been impractical or expensive.

<issues>: Number of issues that were published. This number is based on extant copies, reprints, and secondary sources.

<issue>: Issue number of the item. This is used if only a few were published or were extant, otherwise all issues are collected in to a single item.

<person>: A person or organization involved in the publication. Contains a <name> element and one or more of the following:

<name>: Name of the person/organization as cited in the original item. May be a pen-name or other pseudonym.

<alternate_name>: An alternate or more commonly known name of the entity, either provided by the bibliographic data or by research.

<era>: The dynastic era in which the person/organization was active, or nationality if not Chinese.

<role>: The role of the entity as credited in the item (e.g. author, editor, etc.)

<pub> or <block_carved>: Publication information or information regarding the printing blocks of the item. The latter is used for xylographic works where publication information was only recorded for the blocks, not for print runs of paper copies.

<place>: Place of publication or carving as cited. May be a historical or otherwise non-standard name (e.g. Beiping for Beijing ca. 1928-1938).

<press>: Name of publisher or block carver.

<year>: Year of publication or block carving, converted to the Gregorian calendar.

<month>: Month of publication or block carving, converted to the Gregorian calendar, recorded as a number 1-12.

<year_min>; <year_max>; <month_min>; <month_max>: Likely period in which the item was published or block carved, if the exact date is unknown.

<year_start>; <year_end>; <month_start>; <month_end>: Period during which a periodical or series was published.

<edition>: First, second, reprint, etc. edition of the item. Different editions of the same title are catalogued under separate entries.

<series>: Name of the series of which this item was a part.

<series_volume>: Volume of the series in which this item appears.

<series_edition>: Edition of the series.

<print_type>: Type of printing used to produce the item, if known.

<oclc_num>: Closest match to the item in the OCLC WorldCat catalogue. Only intended as a guide, since several items have been catalogued under different OCLC entries.

<cat>: Indicates that the information in this entry came exclusively from a book catalogue source, and is thus likely less accurate in terms of publication date than those items based on a bibliographic source.

<comment>: Bibliographer's comment or other extra information.

One note that often appears in this element is "previous edition citation". This indicates an edition that only appears in the publication information of a later printing. For example, a third edition might have in its publication information a reference to a first and and a second edition, but these editions do not appear elsewhere in bibliographic sources. In this case the older editions are entered as separate entries, but with the place of publication and publisher enclosed in square brackets since these are not known for certain.

Creative Commons License With the exception of sample images above, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License Copyright for the sampled images belongs to the original producer.
Research for this project was supported by a C. Martin Wilbur Fellowship and a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.
Programming and hosting assistance provided by Shane Bennett.