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Podcast: students decipher a rare Chinese document

Last February, Leiden University Libraries (UBL) acquired a rare Chinese manuscript dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Three Chinese Studies students got the opportunity to decipher the edict (dated 1582) during their internships. In this UBLpodcast they share their findings.

The Imperial edict is part of the former collection of well-known sinologist and author of detective-novels Robert van Gulik. Thanks to a large private donation and support by our Friends Foundation, the UBL was able to purchase the piece. The edict – written on silk – praises the parents of Zhao Fan, a civil servant with a good reputation. The reigning emperor honors Zhao’s father, his father’s deceased first wife, and Zhao’s mother for the upbringing of their son.


De students studied various aspects of the document. Mauk Evertse, the first interviewee in this podcast, describes the physical characteristics of the document. Next, Iks van Eijndhoven gives some historical context about the Ming Dynasty. And finally, Jelle Kuiper describes how he managed to translate the Chinese text. During their internship, the three students were mentored by Hilde De Weerdt, Professor of Chinese History, Dr. Lin Fan, Lecturer in Chinese Art, and Marc Gilbert, curator Chinese Manuscripts and Printed Works.

Thematic programme

This is the third UBLpodcast in our series "University and Student life". In this series, the UBL throws the spotlight on Leiden University’s rich past and its students. In online exhibits, book discussions and lectures, all interested parties can learn about the UBL and its Special Collections. We also publish blogs, video’s and podcasts about selected items from our Special Collections.

Previous episodes

You can listen to the UBLpodcast through several podcast apps (see below). Please note that all previous episodes are in Dutch.

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