Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era]. NARA EHON.
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].
Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].

Unique Surviving Nara Ehon

Illustrated manuscript on superior paper, a picture album of “Ishimochi no soshi” concerning the life of samurai Shigetada Hatakeyama. With 18 fine & richly colored paintings, of high finish and luxury employing gold, copper, & silver; top & bottom of each painting framed with pale blue “misty” borders; text written in a fine calligraphic hand in black ink. 23; 27 (one blank); 27 leaves. Three vols. Oblong 8vo (170 x 245 mm.), orig. dark blue wrappers (rubbed with a little wear) with gold paintings on all covers, orig. orange paper title labels on upper covers, endpapers richly speckled in silver & gold, new stitching. Japan: copied ca. 1661-73 [Kanbun era].

An important discovery: this is the unique surviving Nara Ehon of the famous story “Ishimochi no soshi,” concerning the famous samurai warrior Shigetada Hatakeyama (1164-1205), who fought in the Genpei War (1180-85). The story describes his preparations for battle, supernatural events which took place while he was going to the battlefield, his great bravery in battle, and the death of his son in the same battle. Hatakeyama’s extraordinary valor and acts of strength and skill are famously recorded in the Heike Monogatari and other histories of the period.

Nara-e (Nara pictures) or Nara Ehon (Nara picture books) are illustrated books produced in Kyoto, not in Nara. They are manuscripts written in fine calligraphy on high-quality paper and were probably executed by under-employed monks. These monks were highly skilled artists and craftsmen who produced extremely lavish versions of otogi-zoshi (fairy tale books) and kowaka-mai (historical folk tales). “Many were produced and purchased for special occasions, and were given as dowry and New Year’s gifts. Pigments used in the paintings were often high-quality, expensive mineral products, and the paper used for the text was often beautifully decorated with designs in gold and silver. In its broadest sense, the term Nara-e refers to books and scrolls with text and illustrations which were produced by anonymous artists from the Muromachi through the mid-Edo period. Yet it is not easy to precisely define a Nara-e style. Current scholarship agrees on a number of characteristics: Nara-e is colorful, often embellished with gold foil (occasionally copper foil); its technique and style are frequently uninspired and unsophisticated, yet the works are almost always charming; and Nara-e paintings tend to be eclectic, revealing their artists’ varied backgrounds and training…

“The art of illustrating popular tales, and Nara-e, regardless of its literary content, may be regarded as the rightful successors to the traditional art of narrative painting in Japan.”–Miyeko Murase, Tales of Japan. Scrolls and Prints from The New York Public Library (1986), p. 114.

PROVENANCE: This superb manuscript was owned Koichi Yoshida (1909-2003), scholar of Japanese classical literature, bibliographer, publisher, and a great rare book collector. He taught at Toyo University. At the end of each volume we find his ownership seal. The distinguished bookseller and scholar, Shigeo Sorimachi (1901-91), in his census of more than 300 Nara-ehon, records this as item 167 (and in his autobiography, Sorimachi writes at length about Yoshida). The on-line “Union Catalogue of Early Japanese Books” at NIJL, lists this copy as the only Nara-ehon of this story and gives the provenance of Koichi Yoshida. The wooden box in which these volumes are contained has on the upper cover in Mr. Sorimachi’s hand in Japanese the title, “Kanbun,” “Nara-Ehon,” and “three volumes.” On the reverse side of this cover, there is a contemporary inscription with the information that “Prince Arisugawa” provided an earlier copy of this manuscript to “[first character illegible] Sho an” (clearly a pen name) in 1644 for copying. Our manuscript was copied from the Arisugawa manuscript in the Kanbun era. There is a further inscription that in 1644, two other manuscripts, of “Omochitsuki,” were contained in the box (and are no longer present).

In fine condition. Minor thumbing. One of the images has some minor rubbing at outer margin.

❧ Colin Franklin, Exploring Japanese Books and Scrolls, p. 32-36–Nara Ehon “were made in fairly large numbers during the sixteenth century and a little later — as were illuminated Books of Hours in France…The motive, a lingering delight in color and luxury, was comparable…Nara-ehon which had much in common with the most precise, finished style of Persian and Indian miniatures. It struck me in first seeing these, that whereas one may be fortunate to own two or three such miniatures, in Japan it was still possible to find marvellous examples of complete volumes or whole works illuminated thus, instead of individual leaves extracted from them…The flowering of Nara-ehon in mid-seventeenth century, which must seem to most of us its peak, was caused by the availability of artists, sudden freedom of a stable society, and fashion among a large number of affluent families; it produced, until color-printing became competitive, a century of secular illuminated manuscripts, inadequately known as yet in the West — comparable with the finest Persian or Indian examples.”.

Price: $85,000.00

Item ID: 6418

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