Earliest and finest example of multi-colour printing digitised

"Cambridge University Library recently added selections from its Chinese collections to its Digital Library site. Among the ancient oracle bones used as a method of divination, a 19th-century “Manual of Famine Relief,” and a 14th-century mulberry paper banknote threatening decapitation for any forgery, is the 17th-century Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu)." [source: hyperallergic.com]


"17th-century book which has been described as 'perhaps the most beautiful set of prints ever made'. Estimated to be worth millions on the open market, the ‘Manual of Calligraphy and Painting’ was made in 1633 by the Ten Bamboo Studio in Nanjing. Charles Aylmer, Head of the Chinese Department at Cambridge University Library, said: 'This is the earliest and finest example of multi-colour printing anywhere in the world, comprising 138 paintings and sketches with associated texts by fifty different artists and calligraphers. Although reprinted many times, complete sets of early editions in the original binding are extremely rare.'

'The binding is so fragile, and the manual so delicate, that until it was digitized, we have never been able to let anyone look through it or study it – despite its undoubted importance to scholars.' " [souce: Cambridge University Library]