Two pages of the Yongle Dadian, one of the first encyclopedias ever printed. This was com-missioned by the Yongle Emperor, the greatest of the Ming Dynasty emperors.
Yongle dadian 永乐大典 is a massive, imperially-commissioned encyclopedia compiled in 1408 and composed of thousands of excerpts from all across the Chinese textual tradition. Most of the encyclopedia was destroyed in the wars of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Yongle dadian, or Great Compendium of the Yongle