Chinese experts will repair a 700-year-old handwritten copy of the Koran, the oldest in the communist nation, to prevent it from decaying, state media reported today.
The two-month-long operation will begin this week.
The 867-page two-volume set, the oldest of its kind known in China, is written in Arabic and stored in two caskets in the Jiezi mosque in Xunhua County in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
It was brought to China when the Salar ethnic group moved east from Maracanda, the ancient name of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, about 700 years ago.
Experts believe it was completed before the 13th Century.
"The books have been seriously eroded and are in danger of rotting," deputy director of the Qinghai Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau, Ma Weimin was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
"We will clean up marks and milder stains, and mend its broken pages," Ma said. Two of the experts come from the Nanjing Museum in East China's Jiangsu Province and others are from Qinghai.
The State Cultural Heritage Administration has allocated US$55,000 for the project.
The book would be put into a transparent case for visitors in an exhibition centre beside the mosque. Experts would also replicate the book according to its original design for daily display, Ma said.