Many fine woodcuts printed in color & many with blind-embossing. Five vols. 8vo, orig. patterned mica-speckled wrappers (some worming carefully repaired), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers (all the labels a little wormed), new stitching. Osaka: Uozaki Motosaburo [& four others] & Kyoto: Nishimura Kichibei, 1813.
First edition, fine and thick-paper copy with special refined coloring and blind embossing of many of the woodcuts, of this important anatomical work which collects the records of three dissections performed in Kyoto in 1783, 1798, and 1802. The author explains them based on theories of both traditional Chinese medicine as well as Western medicine.
“A Japanese treatise on anatomy and anatomical dissection in five volumes was published in 1813 by Shoshui or Boku or Koki Mitani (1774-1823) with the title Kaitai hatsumo. This was not the first original Japanese work on dissection, since priority in that respect had been established by the appearance in 1759 of the Zo-shi of Toyo Yamawaki. But that earlier work was short and its illustrative material limited to a few crude drawings of the viscera. Kaitai hatsumo appears, however, to be the first Japanese exposition on the whole system of human anatomy, based upon original observation (including dissection) and knowledge of other anatomical works. An inserted advertisement for this book [not present in this and many other copies] is translated to read as follows: ‘This book is Kaitai hatsumo, on some new Dutch theories and moreover some dissections of a real dead body to make it sure. And it has become clear that the Dutch theories are right and the traditional Japanese and Chinese theories which [have been] with us for 3000 years [are] quite wrong.’ (Somehow one gets here the impression of a persistent reluctance to relinquish the traditional anatomical beliefs in favor of the European knowledge which had come into Japan. After all, the gross inaccuracies of the traditional teachings had been firmly established by the work of Gempaku Sugita and his friends in the previous century)…
“Scattered throughout the text of Kaitai hatsumo is a series of anatomical plates printed in color. These drawings were very well executed, and illustrate the following structures: thoracic and abdominal viscera, in situ; the lungs, with a careful dissection of the bronchial tree; the heart; the diaphragm; the spleen; the stomach; the liver and gall bladder; the kidneys, with their blood supply, and the ureters; the urogenital system, in male and female, with the plexus of veins draining testes and ovaries; the uterus, with Fallopian tubes and ovaries (the ovaries are shown as contained within the uterine tubes); the urinary bladder in the male, with testes and accessory organs of reproduction (seminal vesicles, prostate), and penis; the small and large intestines, with the vermiform appendix; the blood supply to the intestine through the mesentery; the pancreas; a schematic diagram of the lymphatics (called ‘water-ducts’) associated with the small intestine (the function of the lymphatics, it was believed, was to control blood volume of the body); the general vascular system of the entire body; the system of spinal nerves; and, finally, the gross appearance of the brain…
“The last volume of Kaitai hatsumo is in the form of an appendix, written by one of Mitani’s pupils named Konsei Minamoto. This work was of sufficient historical importance to be entirely reprinted in a facsimile edition as recently as 1930.”–Mestler, A Galaxy of Old Japanese Medical Books with Miscellaneous Notes on Early Medicine in Japan Part I. Medical History and Biography. General Works. Anatomy. Physiology and Pharmacology, pp. 316-18.
The woodcuts in this work have been treated quite differently from the regular paper copies: here, there is much blind-embossing, which replaces certain coloring effects, rendering a far more delicate representation. Also, the colors are more far more subtle and finely applied.
In spite of the worming, which has been carefully repaired, this is a fine set preserved in a chitsu.
Item ID: 6417