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Printing of original ancient Buddhist canon returns to Palace Museum

A printing of the complete version of an 18th century edition of the Tripitaka, a collection of Buddhist scriptures, has been collated by the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City.

The Tripitaka, which is of great religious and cultural importance, has several versions published at different times and in various languages, such as Tibetan and Mongolian.

The compilation of Qing Dynasty's imperial edition of the Tripitaka, China's last official collation of the work in Chinese, started in 1733 and finished in 1738.

It was carved on 79,036 pieces of wood and weighed 360 tonnes. Each plate weighs 4.5 kilograms, and they were stored in the Forbidden City after completion.

Unfortunately, over 9,600 woodblocks have been lost and nearly 14,000 pieces are subject to different degrees of damage.

In 2009, restoration of the woodblocks began, with researchers sent to museums, research institutes and temples at home and abroad to study different version of the Tripitaka.

The complete content of the Tripitaka has been recovered through collecting lost parts of its initial Qing Dynasty printing.