Only Surviving Copy

From the block-printed title label on upper cover: Rangyoku miyogiri shoshinsho [Detailed Instructions & Selections of Music for the Miyogiri Flute].

One full-page woodcut illus. & music printing. 16 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. block-printed title label on upper cover (rubbed), new stitching. [Japan]: ca. 1684-1704.

First edition and, apparently, unique; no copy is located in WorldCat or Union Catalogue of Japanese Books. The miyogiri is a type of shakuhachi, an end-blown three-node bamboo flute with five finger holes. The various types of shakuhachi flutes have been some of Japan’s most popular instruments. They were brought from China in the 8th century and became popular in 17th-century Japan when they were adopted by itinerant Buddhist beggar priests (komuso) of the Fuke sect, who were employed by the ruling warrior class.

This rare and comprehensive work begins with a table of contents and a physical description of the miyogiri, along with instructions on correct embouchure. The next section is concerned with fingering techniques, which are illustrated in two diagrams on two pages. This is followed by a wonderful full-page woodcut illustration of a Zen monk wearing a kara (religious attire) giving instruction to a samurai and a younger man.

Following this are nine pieces of song music for the miyogiri, written in a stylized version of katakana in vertical columns from right to left. Indications of blowing intensity and length of phrase are also included in the notation, as is the text of the songs. The Fuke sect left a repertoire of between 200 and 300 pieces, but most were lost with the forced dissolution of the sect in 1871. Our work provides a valuable record, giving the scores and lyrics for nine pieces: Yoshinoyama, Inoyama, Shishi odari, Okazaki, Edo shishi, Sakai shishi, Sugagaki, Taki otoshi, and Rinzetsu. This seems to be the only record of several of the pieces.

On the final page, there is an indication that a separately issued second part appeared, but there seems to be no surviving copy.

Fine copy.

❧ See Grove Dictionary of Music, Japan, Section IV.3. Andreas Gutzwiller, “The Shakuhachi of the Fuke-Sect: Instrument of Zen” in The World of Music, Vol. 26, No. 3, Sacred Music II (1984), pp. 53-65. For a discussion of this copy, see Seiichi Kishi’s article:

Price: $15,000.00

Item ID: 6476

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