Tianyige Library Museum

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Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China

Tianyige Library is located on the bank of the Moon Lake in Ningbo. It was built as the library of the Secretary of Defense, Fan Qin, between the 40th and 45th years of Jianjing in the Ming Dynasty (1561-1566). Tianyige Library is the oldest private library still in existence in China and it is also one of the most ancient private libraries in the world. Now there are more than 300,000 volumes of books in Tianyige Museum, which includes more than 80,000 volumes of reliable texts.

Tianyige Museum covers an area of 31,000 square meters. Tianyige as its core, Tianyige Museum is an integrated theme museum of book-collecting culture. The entire place is divided into three functioning parts: library culture, recreational gardens and exhibition area. Tianyige Museum is a nationally protected key unit of culture relics, nationally protected key unit of ancient book preservation, one of ten most famous buildings of history and culture and a 4A scenic spot.


Bronze Statue of Fan Qin (1506-1585)


Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Fan Qin is the founder of Tianyige Library who was born in Ningbo during the Ming Dynasty. Fan Qin loved books very much and collected 70,000 volumes of books; most of them local chronicles and imperial exams records of the Ming Dynasty.

He passed the imperial exam in 1532. Therefore he was promoted to be the industry minister from a district director. However, he offended a court member and was soon assigned to be a director in Yuanzhou. In 1559, he went to work in Jiangxi, and in 1560 he was asked to be the associated defense minister. He wrote "Tianyige Pavilion Collection". He also carved his "Fan's Miracles".


Horses on the Stream

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


This is a sculptural work by a folk artist named Hu Shansheng. Eight horses are running on the side of a stream. Some are wagging their tails and some are raising their heads. They look real and vivid.





Dingming Hall

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Dingming Hall was Fan Qin's library before the Tianyige Library was built. Fan Qin, whose courtesy name was Yaoqin and pen name was Dongming. Therefore, his library was called Dongming Hall, also called Yiwu Hut. The hall was rebuilt in 1980.

Fan Qin loved collecting books. He started his collection in 1530. He traveled to different places for books.



Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Xiezhi is an imaginary animal in ancient time. It is big as the bull and small as the goat. The eyes are bright and there is a horn on the top of the head. It stands for fair and justice.





The Fan's Former Residence

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


This was originally the east hall of the Fan's residence and later it became the living area of the Fan's descendants. The living area was separated from the book conservation area, which was elaborately planned by Fan Qin to create better conditions for the preserved books.




The Northern Book Storehouse

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Building construction began in 1976 and was completed in 1981. It was the second library in the museum. It uses modern exhibition to present traditional arrangement of Tianyige Library. It is a three story building located in the northwest of Tianyige. The style of the shape is in harmony with the environment of Tianyige. A lot of attention is paid to fire and mildew prevention.


Tianyige Library

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Tianyige Library which is also called "Building of Treasured Books", was built in 1561 and completed in 1566 (Ming Dynasty). It was the library of the Secretary of Defense, Fan Qin. It is the earliest private library still in existence in China. There is a saying in the very classical book: The Book of Changes (also translated "I Ching"); "A combination of one room in the sky and six rooms on land can breed water". Fan therefore practiced the idea in design of Tianyige Library. In this way, fire could be prevented from approaching and burning any of the books inside. Of course the name "Tianyi" came out in the same way.

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


There is one big room in the upper story and six rooms below. In addition, he dug a pond named "Tianyi Pond" right in front of the library to store water, to help protect the books from fire. In 1665, Fan Guangwen, the great grandson of Fan Qin, piled up lots of rocks in and around the pond to beautify the environment. Those rocks are mainly in shape of three Chinese charecters carrying the meaning of happiness, wealth and longevity. The others form the shape of nine lions and one elephant, showing a special style of art which is particularly a distinguishing feature of gardens of South China.


Zunjing Pavilion

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


In all dynasties of China, academic classes were constantly and highly respected. They built Zunjing Pavilion to collect precious books.






Forest of Stone Tablets of Mingzhou

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


There are all together 173 stone tablets, of which 90 were moved from the government school of Ningbo in 1935. Some tablets still clearly keep the carving of mottoes, aphorisms of ancient people, names of "jinshi" hundreds of years ago, by which the content of education, the source of funds and the way of personnel training are reflected. Sixteen records are kept of repairing Fuxue.


Qianjin Chai (Room of Study)



In the Republic of China period (1911-1949), a famous local scholar, Ma Lian, in 1931, when the old city of Ningbo was demolished, was having vacation at home and collected more than 2,000 ancient bricks that were from the period of Jin Dynasty (265-420). From 1933 to 1935, Tianyige Library was renovated and Ma Lian was one of the initiators. After the renovation, Ma Lian donated his collection of ancient bricks to Tianyige Library. After he donated all the bricks to Tianyige an exhibition room was specially prepared for keeping the bricks. "Qianjin" remains unchanged.

Mr. Ma Lian exclusively collected novels and dramas which despised by tradition, so he named his library as the "Room for the Unpresentable", which is also named Pingyao Room because he unexpectedly bought the only existing copy of San Sui Pingyao Zhuan (The Legend of San Sui Taming Devils).

He collected about 2,000 categories of books. After his death, most of the books were sold to the library of Peking University. In 2003, Peking University library compiled and published the series of the rare drama books in the Room for the Unpresentable, totaling 24 volumes, including 35 drams of 114 volumes collected by Ma Lian.


The East Garden

 Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China

The East Garden lies to the southeast of Tianyige Library. It covers about 6,000 square meters. In 1986 the rebuilding construction was completed and the garden was opened to the public.

Click here to see another angle




Pavilion of a Hundred Goose



This pavilion was built in the Ming Dynasty for the particular use of ancestor worship. It was originally located on Zuguan Mountain in the south of Ningbo and was moved here in 1959. The pavilion was framed in a graceful structure and patterns, such as "fish jumping over the dragon gate", "two lions playing with a ball" and "Kylin bringing wealth and fortune", which are carved to carry traditional good wishes.





Ninghui Hall



It is a building made of bricks and wood built in the Qing Dynasty. Inside the hall  exhibits "The Orchid Pavilion" in Siming, known as the State of the Literature, with a long history and cultural tradition. There have been many masters of calligraphy, many of whom were closely related to Wang Xizhi and his Orchid Pavilion. Among the numerous copies of the Orchid Pavilion existing in Siming, the Shenlong edition of Orchid Pavilion which is kept in Tianyige Library is the best. This copy truly with the density of strokes and the traces of the tip of the writing brush is acknowledged as the best existing Shenlong copy of the Orchid Pavilion in academic circles. The Orchid Pavilion, displays representative works of all his calligraphy, with the most changes known as "The best running Hand in the World".


Mahjong's Origin Exhibition Hall

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Mahjong came into being as a synthesizer of the various games of chance in ancient China, mainly dice, Xuanhe card games and Madiao paper card games. Today, this is the only exhibition hall of Mahjong in China. Mahjong, in its origination was a gambling game, combining the basic card designs of Madiao and the basic forms of bone cards. It also incorporated dice cast, the most important and influential game in ancient China. This game took on ots final shape in the middle and late Qing Dynasty. Click here to see more.


Bridal Sedan Chair Hall

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


Bridal Sedan Chair of Ningbo is called "Wangong Sedan Chair", which is famous for its delicate techniques. It is the best sedan chair in the world.









The Qin's Ancestral Hall

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


The Qin's family built this hall in 1923-1925 for worshipping their ancestors. It costs 200,000 silver Yuan. The screen wall, the stage gate, the stage and hall are in the middle of the ancient hall. In the hall there is a stage for local performances and boxes and seats for the audience. The whole place is 2,000 square meters. The buildings consist of woodcarvings, brick carvings and stone carvings. The hall is an outstanding piece of artwork.

The stage in the hall is very beautiful. It looks splendid with the woodcarvings, gold ornaments and paintings. Sixteen pillars support the roof. For a delicate wooden structure, it is indeed very firm and secure.


Painting and Calligraphy Gallery

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China

The hall lies to the southeast of Tianyige Library. It is the local residence.







Number One Scholar's Hall

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


This is originally the Number One Scholar Zhang Jun's hall in the Qing Dynasty.

Zhang Jun was a famous scholar, educated in the state school and had many official titles. He was also in Fujian and Guangdong Provinces.




The South Garden

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


The South Garden, located to the southwest of Tianyige Library, covers 3,400 square meters. The garden takes water as the principle element. The center pond is surrounded by a bank of rocks.








Si Ma residence

Tianyige Library Museum Ningbo China


In ancient time, Si Ma was in charge of the military. Fan Qin was the Secretary of Defense and also in charge of the military.






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