Tian Yi Ge China, Ningbo

Tian Yi Ge

The Tianyi Ge, translated as Tianyi Pavilion or Tianyi Chamber, is a library and garden located in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China. It is the oldest existing library in China. Founded in 1561 by Fan Qin during the Ming dynasty, in its heyday, it boasted a collection of 70,000 volume of antique books.

The name Tian Yi refers to the concept of cosmic unity first described in a Han dynasty commentary to the Book of Changes. In Chinese alchemy Tianyi is linked to the element of water, thus it was believed by providing a watery name would protect the library against fire damage.

The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty visited Tian Yi Ge, and ordered officials to draw schematics of Tian Yi Ge's building plan and book cases as prototype to build several imperial libraries including Wenyuan Chamber in the Forbidden City, and Wenjin Chamber in the Chengde Mountain Resort to house the Siku Quanshu encyclopedia.

After the Second Opium War, the British took many history and geography collections from the library. They were followed by thefts from local thieves; by 1940, the collection dwindled to less than 20,000 volumes. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, due to government effort and donation by privated collectors, the collection now recovered somewhat to about 30,000 volumes, mostly rare antique Ming dynasty printed and hand copied volumes.

In 1982, Tianyi Ge was established by the Chinese authorities as a National Heritage Site. Also located in the complex is the Qin Family Drama Stage.