Suppose an English-speaking software developer and data scientist were interested in finding ancient Chinese writings that have never before been translated into English. Suppose a developer desired to produce automated translations, or at the very least produce text-to-speech of audible spoken Chinese. Or at the very least index Chinese words in a searchable format, create "tag cloud" visualizations, etc.

Possibly also to paraphrase Classical Chinese writing into modern, simplified Chinese characters, for easier collaboration with modern Chinese speakers, scientists, and software developers.

Buddhist texts are especially of interest. Taoism, Confucianism, civil-service exams and commentary, or traditional Chinese medicine would also be useful.

What online resources exist, where classical wisdom literature is preserved as pure UTF text files? Or as high-quality scans or photograph images of ancient manuscripts?

  • Hmm...a misconception here. Collaboration is easiest done with modern Traditional characters, not Simplified characters (SC), as Simplified Chinese has huge problems in its capability of representing anything other than modern Mandarin (classical literature isn’t written in Mandarin), and SC characters are not legible outside mainland China, whereas modern collaboration in Chinese literature and texts involves scholars across Korea, Japan, and Vietnam too.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 1:08
  • Even in mainland, people academically read the tranditional texts in tranditional characters... You will be laughed at if you buy "simplified books"... Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


several free resources, depend on where you’re:

the internet archive has a cadal (china-us million book digital library project) collection, which contains 89000+ books. most books of imperial collection of four (四庫全書) are included, plus many literatures of yore.

this collection alone should suit your need, unfortunately, it’s blocked in “that area” now.

for buddhism texts, try the 漢文大藏經

to produce automated translations

forget it, no one can 😼

into modern, simplified Chinese characters

even the communists do not do it, find & read carefully what’s the rules of the simplification.

have fun :)


For the classics, the obvious place to start is https://ctext.org/ . While it is not obvious from the website itself whether a particular work has been translated (it only gives translations that are in public domain, and not even all of those), it seem to be fairly complete at least in the pre-Han and Han texts.

For Buddhist texts, the Taisho Tripitaka is the obvious place to start: https://21dzk.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/SAT2018/master30.php , https://cbetaonline.dila.edu.tw/ .

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