The Irish Times Magazine - - FRONTLINES - Gemma Tip­ton

The Ch­ester Beatty Li­brary in Dublin is both glo­ri­ous and in­trigu­ing, dis­play­ing ev­ery­thing from a 4,000- year- old clay tablet de­scrib­ing a measure of but­ter as a gift to the moon god Su’en and pages from an Egyp­tian Book of the Dead to a gilded Ko­ran by one of the great­est me­dieval Is­lamic mas­ters of cal­lig­ra­phy. But where do you start on a visit to such a trea­sure trove? Well, li­brary di­rec­tor Fion­nu­ala Croke has se­lected some per­sonal favourites, which have been pub­lished as part of Scala’s pres­ti­gious “Di­rec­tor’s Choice” se­ries of books. The full- colour il­lus­trated guide delves into the sto­ries be­hind Croke’s choices. These range from sam­ples from the li­brary’s ex­tra­or­di­nary man­u­script col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing The Yon­gle En­cy­clopae­dia, com­mis­sioned in 1403 to pre­serve all Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture at the time ( it ran to 11,000 hand­writ­ten vol­umes); to a tiny Chi­nese crys­tal snuff bot­tle, just 7cm high. Di­rec­tor’s Choice Ch­ester Beatty Li­brary cost ¤ 16 in hard­back (¤ 12 pa­per­back) and is avail­able at the li­brary book­shop and on­line at cbl. ie

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