Skip to main content

Chinese, 17th Century

 File — Box-Folder: 1.8


  • 17th Century

Chinese “the Sutra of the Multitude of Silent Souls”

Specimens of Oriental MSS and Printing G.M.L. Brown


From a Chinese Printed Book of the 17th Century, a Buddhist work known as “the Sutra of the Multitude of Silent Souls”. Wood-block printing, of which this is a good, if not a distinguished example, has been practiced by the Chinese for at least twelve centuries; first by the Buddhist monks for the reproduction of little charms on single sheets of paper, and later for books by Buddhists, Taoists and Confucians alike. And although movable type was in use in China long before the time of Gutenberg, it never supplanted the wood-block. “The Chinese written language”, says an eminent Sinologist, “is so rich, so expressive and so ingenious that the ignorant is futile”. Nowhere in the world have we the parallel of a literary language remaining essentially the same throughout a thousand years. To the foreigner however, Chinese will always prove a stumbling block. An ideographic language, its characters are symbols, not letters of an alphabet; strictly speaking it has no grammar; it disdains to use capital letters or punctuation marks; although employing compound words in every line (one should really say column) these are never connected; it has practically no inflections; it resorts to every conceivable form of abbreviation’ and lastly, it is saturated with cryptic allusions intelligible only to a life-long student of its literature. (Note: where Kana characters have been added by hand, do not confuse with the Chinese script.)


From the Collection: 1 Box(es) (one oversize box)



Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

RIT Libraries
The Wallace Center
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408