Qing Dynasty's imperial edition of the Tripitaka, China's last official collation of the work in Chinese.（Photo/China News Service)
A set of Tripitaka — the general collection of Buddhist scriptures and books — printed with the original ancient printing plates was donated to the Palace Museum on Tuesday.
The Tripitaka has been officially printed during different dynasties and had many different editions.
The set donated to the museum is referred to as the Qianlong Edition, which was rectified with imperial orders given by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors and came out during Qianlong's reign.
The donation was made by Buddhist monk Yanzang, who is the honorary chairman of Beijing Cultural Relics Protection Foundation and the chief expert for the renovation and protection project of the Tripitaka.
The Qianlong Edition of Tripitaka was the last officially printed Mandarin-language edition in China.
Started in 1733, the printing project lasted six years and used about 79,000 wooden plates to complete more than 7,200 volumes.
The original plates were then stored in the Forbidden City after the printing. The plates were taken out and suffered damages in history before they were recollected by the Place Museum decades ago.
In 2009, a committee was set up by the authorities to repair the plates.
The repair processes still adopted only traditional crafts to maintain the original style.
The new original-plate-printed edition of the Tripitaka, published by National Library of China Publishing House, fully recreates the styles and features of the old set.
Only 80 volumes of the entire set were recovered and printed so far due to limitation of conditions.
The new prints are said to have high documentation values as some of the documents used by the committee are the only existing copies.