CHANT (CHinese ANcient Texts): a comprehensive database of all ancient Chinese texts up to 600 AD

Che Wah Ho

Abstract


The CHinese ANcient Texts (CHANT) database is a long-term project which began in 1988 to build up a comprehensive database of all ancient Chinese texts up to the sixth century AD. The project is near completion and the entire database, which includes both traditional and excavated materials, will be released on the CHANT Web site (www.chant.org) in mid-2002. With more than a decade of experience in establishing an electronic Chinese literary database, we have gained much insight useful to the development of similar databases in the future. We made use of the best available versions of all texts, noting variant readings in footnotes. The biggest problem we encountered is the inclusion of rare and obsolete Chinese characters. For excavated materials, we also have to incorporate a considerable number of inscriptions in the original oracle bones and bronze forms. Since we started building the database, information technology has advanced so rapidly that we had to upgrade the technical devices already in use in the database. Unification of different sub-databases is also a daunting task. To maintain our competitive edge over free online Chinese databases, we need to continue developing new databases employing the existing ones.

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