|“Baegun Hwasang Chorok Bulji Jikji Simche Yojeol (Mater Baegun’s Excerpts from the Buddha and Patriarchs’ Direction Pointing to the Essence of Mind)” Vol. 2 currently kept at the National Library of France. (Courtesy of Naver)|
A group of experts geared up to restore the metal types for the missing part of the world’s oldest surviving printed book, “Jikji.”
The Cheongju Early Printing Museum on Sunday said that its head curator, Hwang Jeong-ha, and others had started research to restore the metal types used for the printing of the first volume of “Baegun Hwasang Chorok Bulji Jikji Simche Yojeol (Mater Baegun’s Excerpts from the Buddha and Patriarchs’ Direction Pointing to the Essence of Mind),” also known as “Jikji.”
Currently, only the second volume of the book in the original version dating back to 1377 exists and is kept at the National Library of France. It was added by UNESCO to the Memory of the World list in 2001. The Early Printing Museum has a digital copy of the original. The first volume is kept in woodcut-print (made in 1378) and transcript versions only.
“We are planning to look into the woodcut-print version, pick out the letters that are also in the second volume and reproduce them,” said Lee Seung-cheol, curator of the museum. “For the letters that are not included in the second volume, the researchers will look into another book that is believed to have been printed with the same metal type used for the original ‘Jikji’ and pick out the letters. If the abovementioned options are unavailable, the researchers will break down each character, and recombine them into the characters used in the first book.”
The museum is already halfway through restoring the metal types used for the second volume based on the original print version. Lim In-ho, a government-designated metal print type master, has recently disclosed 60 percent completion of the restoration at the request of the authorities.
The master is expected to restore the first volume once his previous job is completed. A total of 30,000 types are expected to be restored by 2015, costing 1.8 trillion won ($1.65 billion).
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)