China's national library was founded 100 years ago, on September 9, and to celebrate the centenary it's bringing out its best collection of books, documents, maps, stone-rubbings and photographs.

The exhibition is naturally intended to bring much of China's history to life, but there are also foreign texts held amongst the Chinese ones.

Documents on view cover a wide spread of time, running from modern pieces such as texts from the United Nations to the truly ancient. The latter include scripts found in the Mogao Caves and even oracle bone scripts.

Oracle bone scripts are texts carved into tortoiseshell or ox scapulae (shoulder blade bones), hence the name. Not all were used for telling the future, but the description 'oracle' has stuck, at least in the West.

Pieces from the era of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing family rule are all included. There are also representations of ethnic minority languages including some which don't exist anymore.

Obviously some are too delicate to lick a finger and leaf through, but fortunately the Library has digitised some of them so that visitors can skim through to their heart's content. 

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