Siku quanshu 四庫全書Edit   Subscription required for online access; intranet, hard drive and CD-ROM versions available for purchase.

Digital Heritage Publishing, Ltd.

The Siku quanshu is the largest single collection of books compiled in Chinese history (3,461 total works with over eight hundred million characters) and is currently also the largest digitized corpus of Chinese works available.  The native tools feature well-designed Basic, Progressive, Correlative and Advanced searches as well as bookmarking, annotation and highlighting functions.  Images from the original works have been preserved in high-resolution digital copies.  As of version 3.0, the software is fully compliant with Unicode, so users can copy-and-paste from any text into virtually any other application.  A series of classical dictionaries has recently been added to the collection, including the說文解字, 重修玉篇, 康熙字典, 重修廣韻 and集韻.

The Siku quanshu contents and interface are in traditional Chinese characters only.  Online and offline versions are only accessible via the specialized interface provided by the publisher.

Scripta Sinica 漢籍電子文獻Edit

Academica Sinica, © 2000.

At roughly half the size of the Siku quanshu, the online Scripta Sinica database is another excellent resource as the editors at Academica Sinica have spent decades editing, proofing and categorizing their vast digital resources into a fully-searchable online system.  The basic search can include variant graphs and even synonyms (mainly for proper names), as well as customizations by time period; the advanced search provides an open-ended four-level search of full text, title, content or sub-commentaries.

The Scripta Sinica contents and interface are in traditional Chinese characters only.  Registration (which is free) is required to access the corpus and use the advanced search functions.

CHinese ANcient Texts Database Project (CHANT) 漢達文庫Edit

D.C. Lau Research Centre for Chinese Ancient Texts 劉殿爵中國古籍研究中心, Chinese University of Hong Kong香港中文大學.  © 2013.

The CHANT database is one of the best resources for digitized transmitted and excavated ancient Chinese texts.  Corpora include oracle bone inscriptions, bronze inscriptions, bamboo and silk manuscripts, pre-Han and Han-period transmitted texts, Six Dynasties-period transmitted texts, and a leishu section containing early Chinese encyclopædia, such as the群書治要, 太平御覽, and冊府元龜.  One of the more useful features of the CHANT interface is that variant graphs and notes from other editions are included via pop-up windows, usually with full citations.  Basic search functions are available for all corpora.

Entries and search functions are in traditional Chinese characters only.  Individual or institutional registration is required, though there is a 30-day free trial registration. 

Chinese Text Project 中國哲學書電子化計劃Edit

Donald Sturgeon, ed.  © 2006.

The Chinese Text Project is the most user-friendly of the large textual databases currently available, containing over 6,000 texts and twenty-six million characters.  Along with the dictionary (see above), the site boasts a range of other tools, such as a parallel passages interface (with both transmitted and excavated editions, featuring color-coded concordances of parallel or similar passages in other texts), images of source manuscripts, concordance and index data, the most common subcommentaries for most texts, publication data for various editions, and user-driven metadata entry, discussion forum and even an internal wiki.  In addition to the powerful basic text search functions, the advanced search interface includes selection by time period and use of the extensive metadata tags. The site also provides English translations for most texts, an extensive Bibliography section, and a well-developed wiki with an active community.

The Chinese Text Project website can be accessed in English, traditional or simplified Chinese, or a combination thereof.

Wikisource 維基文庫Edit (for Chinese; other languages available via

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

With over a hundred thousand pages all freely available online (all works are in the public domain), the Chinese-language Wikisource database can be extremely useful, as the home page allows the user to search or simply browse by type of work, title, author or subject.  Both transmitted and excavated texts can be found in the database, and links to translations of texts are available from the left-hand sidebar.  Full-text searches can be performed in any language.

Like all Wikimedia pages, Wikisource can be used in any of the available interface languages; both traditional and simplified Chinese are fully supported.

Digital Database of Buddhist Triptaka Catalogues 佛教藏經目錄數位資料庫Edit

Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA) 中華電子佛典協會. © 2013.

This Taiwanese organization has created a proofed, digitized, fully searchable version of the Taishō shinshū dai zōkyō volumes 1–55 and 85, along with many other scriptural texts.  Along with their customized reader application, the CBETA contains a series of well-designed search tools, allowing for proximity searches for keywords within used-defined ranges, and an automatic citation creator.

In traditional Chinese only; all texts and tools can be downloaded from the website, or a DVD-ROM is available for purchase.

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Electronic Etexts and Dictionary 佛光大藏經/佛光大辭典Edit

Master Hsing Yun 星雲大師, Fo Guang Shan Monastery 佛光山寺

First established in 1997, this was the first large database of Buddhist texts and now includes tens of thousands of works in traditional Chinese, many with English translations.  The simple search interface on the Fo Guang Shan website allows full-text, work title and content searches, or users can browse from the homepage.

Entries and search functions are in traditional Chinese characters only.  CD-ROM versions of the dictionary (including a mobile version) are available for purchase from the website.

Traditions of Exemplary Women 列女傳Edit

Anne Kinney, ed. © 2003.

While the focus of this site is the six editions of the列女傳 and related early Chinese works on women in early China, it also has bilingual digital editions of many of the major classics and histories from the pre-Qin and Han periods, in traditional Chinese on the left side with English on the right side, often including notes.

There are no search functions on the site, but the texts  are laid out clearly, generally one chapter per page.

Gugong Hanquan Ancient Text Search Database 故宮【寒泉】古典文獻全文檢索資料庫Edit

Chen Yufu 陳郁夫, ed. © 1999.

The simple interface on this site is designed to retrieve all citations containing the search term(s) from a number of standard Chinese corpora, including the 十三經, 先秦諸子, 全唐詩, 宋元學案, 明儒學案, 四庫總目, 朱子語類, 紅樓夢, 白沙全集, 資治通鑑 and 續通鑑.

All content and search functions are in traditional Chinese characters only.

China the Beautiful: Chinese Literature Classics 锦绣中华之一页Edit

Ming L. Pei, ed. © 1995-2009.

Among the pages on Chinese culture this site has a surprisingly large textual archive freely available on the website featuring classic works of philosophy and poetry, literature and history, ancient to modern prose works and even a few English works translated into Chinese.  A Google search is provided for the site, or users can browse by category.

Pages are in either traditional (Big5 encoding) or simplified (GB2312 encoding) characters.

Google BooksEdit

Google, Inc.  © 2012.

While not designed expressly for sinologists, the full-text search functions in Google Books deserve mention as the number of volumes now stretches into the tens of millions.  Users can search within volumes to quickly return all mentions of the search term in a specific work, much like a custom index.  The main drawbacks to the system are that Chinese is rendered incorrectly at times by Google’s OCR filter, and pages from the works are displayed as images rather than digitized text, even for works in the public domain, making it difficult to transfer the information into other applications.

Searches can be in any language, including simplified and traditional Chinese, though English works seem to dominate the holdings. N-gram frequencies from Google's Chinese archives can also be accessed and exported for use in other systems.

iask 爱问共享资料Edit, © 2012.

This China-based website provides a web interface for searching or browsing and downloading digitized materials.  The number of volumes in Chinese is substantial, and the interface can return a wide variety of file types.  Drawbacks include blatant copyright violations and the absence of quality control; scans of published volumes in PDF, PDG or DJV format are often of relatively poor quality.  Not all files are free to download; users must spend site-specific points to retrieve some files.

Searches can be made in traditional or simplified Chinese, or other languages.

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