Buddhism was introduced to mainland China in the Eastern Han Dynasty (東漢), 206 BC – 220 AD. After two thousand years of development, it has become an integral part of Chinese culture. The long history of Buddhism in China has witnessed the activities and travels of a large number of eminent monks, the building of an enormous amount of magnificent temples and the undertaking of uncountable large scale enterprises of various sorts. Unfortunately, such rich cultural activities were not documented in full detail in
official historical writings. Most researchers still need to resort to the Buddhist texts themselves in order to be able to restore the actual historical situation at any given time, albeit with a certain degree of approximation due to the complex and at times problematic nature of the sources in question.
Between the 16th and the 20th centuries, with the modern rise of Buddhism and the increased availability of the support of large numbers of believers, compiling and publishing Buddhist scriptures becomes an achievable dream. Thus, a large number of Chronicles recording the history of local Buddhist temples comes into being under such circumstances. Gazetteers are a distinct genre of Chinese historiography. Instead of a single descriptive work of a region, city or temple, these gazetteers are usually compilations including a variety of texts from different authors, which makes them especially representative historical documents and records about the temples in each era of modern China. As a result, the Buddhist gazetteers become an important source of reference for studying the late developments of Chinese Buddhism. These exceedingly large amounts of gazetteers were assembled into two series of books in the course of the 20th century: the Zhongguo Fosi Shizhi Huikan (中國佛寺史志彙刊), in 110 volumes, compiled by Du Jiexiang (杜潔祥) in 1980-1985, and the Zhongguo fosizhi congkan (中國佛寺志彙刊), in 130 volumes, compiled by Zhang Zhi and others (張智等) in 2006.
In order (a) to make these religious and historical primary sources that were included in these two book series widely known and used, and (b) to achieve the purpose of their permanent preservation, from year 2007, the Library and Information Center at Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan, started the "Digital Archive of Chinese Buddhist Temple Gazetteers" project. The main goal of the project is to create a high-quality digital full-text archive of these two book series and to make them freely available to the public with the help of digital media. The project has been running for 5 years and now bears its fruitful results. In this paper, we brieﬂy describe the digitization process behind the creation of this archive, the main web interface and future possible developments and applications of the project. We believe that this overview will provide to be very helpful to users who want to have a clear and complete picture of this digital archive. Besides, other digital projects will also beneft from our experience in building their own archives.
Chinese Buddhism; Temple Gazetteers; Digital Archive; Content Markup; TEI