Ancient books, manuscripts, and art from the Far East and South East Asia

Archive for January, 2011

Anthology of norms and sentence of Kong Kwok

This book, entitled Bunsho kihan hyorin 文章規範評林 (Anthology of Norms and Sentence), is the first of a collection of six. The work regroups the main sentences of a famous Han scholar called Kong Kwok (孔安国). I found this anthology in Osaka as well in 2007. It is interesting to notice that the book is dated back to 1860, but the wood printing plate was probably made around 1600.

During Edo era (1604-1687) and Meiji era (1868-1912), among publishers was very common to search and buy old printing plates and through them to reprint as new editions, stories, essays and documents forgotten or lost, in order to save money.

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Mei hitsu jiten 名筆辞典 hand-drawn characters dictionary

This copy was found by a friend of mine in Tokyo in 2008. He saw this dictionary in a dusty shelf of an old library (called furu honya 古本屋 ) and because he knows the value this might have for me, he bought it. Apparently useless, this dictionary is indeed a very useful compendium for people interested in calligraphy studies. It reports four main writing styles for each characters, painted by the most famous calligraphers ( as Wang Xizhi, 王羲之, 303–361) Asia had ever known.

The dictionary was published by Nigensha in 1966, unfortunately, since then, it hasn’t been printed anymore.


Bunraku Manuscript

japanese puppets theatre japanese puppets theatre piece japanese puppets theatre piece

This manuscript, dated 1845, is a work from Bunraku (文楽), or Japanese puppet theatre, founded in Osaka in 1684, traditionally performed by a storyteller and a player of shamisen. This manuscript reports the notes of the storyteller in red ink, written in order to personalize the play of the opera.

I found it in Osaka.


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