A REPRODUCTION of one of the greatest works of Chinese literature has been donated to a North-East university.

The Complete Library of Four Treasures is made up of more than 1,500 cloth-bound books and includes 3,641 Chinese texts dating back to the 18th Century.

A modern copy of the volume, worth more than £50,000 in itself, has been donated to Durham University by the Chin-Kung Multicultural Education Foundation of Hong Kong.

The original library was compiled on the orders of the Emperor Qianlong in 1772 and took ten years to complete.

Of the seven copies made, only the Imperial Palace copy survives and the donation to Durham is a contemporary reproduction of that manuscript, now housed in the Palace Museum Library in Taiwan.

The collection covered every field of Chinese scholarship and knowledge and every child in China is expected to learn about the Complete Library of Four Treasures as part of primary school education.

Durham was chosen as one of three universities across the country, alongside Oxford and Cambridge, to receive a copy in recognition of its position as a leading centre of excellence in Chinese Studies.

Chinese language courses have been taught at Durham University since 1952 and the university has a dedicated Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies.

The copy of the Complete Library of Four Treasures will be housed in Durham University’s Bill Bryson Library and it can be used by staff and students, visiting academics and members of the public.

Mamtimyn Sunuodula of Durham University Library, said: “The collection will help us to better understand the history of this growing world power and reminds us of China’s five thousand years of cultural and intellectual achievements.”