A collection of instructional notebooks containing secrets of gastronomy, etiquette, techniques of preparations for a wide variety of festivities, mostly of the Ogasawara School of gastronomy but also the Shijo School, ca. 1839-ca. 1912. GASTRONOMY.

A collection of instructional notebooks containing secrets of gastronomy, etiquette, techniques of preparations for a wide variety of festivities, mostly of the Ogasawara School of gastronomy but also the Shijo School, ca. 1839-ca. 1912.

About 60 bound notebooks and about a dozen unbound sheets, many finely illustrated with brush and ink, with colors. [Japan: ca. 1839-ca. 1912].

A fascinating and important manuscript archive of notebooks and sheets, many with illustrations, describing the rules of gastronomic etiquette as prescribed by the Ogasawara School of etiquette, developed in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) and still practiced today. The instructions mostly pertain to the ritualistic preparation and serving of the food on a series of trays known as honzen ryori (“main tray cuisine”) which was the dominant style of banqueting for the elite from the Muromachi period through the Edo period. It remained the most formal style of eating through the 19th century and is still used today in certain formal ceremonies. For a full account of honzen ryori, see Eric C. Rath’s wonderful “Honzen Dining. The Poetry of Formal Meals in Late Medieval and Early Modern Japan” in Japanese Foodways, Past and Present (ed. by Rath and Stephanie Assmann), 2010, pp. 19-41. See also Rath’s Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan (2010), chap. 3.

One of the prevalent themes in the illustrated notebooks is the concept of the “five elements” (the connection to the five organs; air, wind, fire, water, and earth; a tray composed of rice, pickles, soup, vegetable, and a main course; wood, fire, earth, gold, and water; etc.). Many of the albums contain finely drawn illustrations of trays each containing five seasonal festival dishes. Also depicted are knives in ceremonial positions with rich meanings, instructions on the presentations of certain foods on trays (for instance, black beans, kelp, fish, carrots, etc.), displays according to the seasons, the five different tastes and their relation to the five organs, etc. There are frequent notes stating that these notebooks contain secret information passed down to the next generation.

Another notebook is concerned with shimadai (presentation trays that resemble an island because of their wavy shapes with elaborate displays). The paper of this notebook contains mica for an enhanced effect. Numerous trays are displayed with illustrations of pickles and lobsters.

Other illustrated notebooks are concerned with how to display seafood on a medium-sized dish (these are very finely illustrated), otekake and mizu shugi (beginning of the year festivity displays of food), rules of the 5 – 5 – 3 tray setting with excellent pictures, shiki sankon (three toasts of sake), another album devoted to shimadai, an album depicting a white fish terrine with elaborate cross-sections (kamaboko), an album depicting trays and tools of the ceremony, an unillustrated album contain many menus, an album describing how to ceremonially carve fish and fowl, another album devoted to knife techniques of the Ogasawara School with beautiful illustrations of knives and chop sticks, etc.

Another ten notebooks, all illustrated, are devoted to the theme of koshirae (recipes, instructions, and techniques for the preparation of ceremonial meals), the etiquette for eating and drinking, secret cooking techniques, rules for the ceremonial offering of sake, and the rules of etiquette for engagements and weddings. Again, the illustrations are fine and detailed.

There are a further eleven illustrated albums concerned with the rules of presentation and etiquette for a variety of ceremonies. Another eight albums, unillustrated, contain menus and recipes.

Finally, there is a group of about twenty booklets giving menus and recipes. There is also a group of sheets which appear to be shopping lists. Another sheet is a bibliography of cook books.

All in fine condition.

Price: $19,500.00

Item ID: 6260

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