Illustrated manuscript scroll on paper, with a number of paintings in brush & wash of various colors. COAL, GAMPI.

How to Make Japanese Washi Paper

Illustrated manuscript scroll on paper, with a number of paintings in brush & wash of various colors.

Scroll (255 x 1440 mm.), decorated endpaper at beginning. At end, in trans.: “Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, borrowed from Kanzaemon Oba & copied by Fujiwara, at age of 83, working under the fiefdom lord Mizuno, 1862.”

A most unusual scroll. The beginning of this scroll provides a detailed and highly technical explanation of the early history of the exploitation of coal in China and Japan, with descriptions of the different grades of coal. The author has provided information on how coal was located and mined, the mining tools used, how to excavate mines, techniques to control flooding of the mines, etc. This is followed by finely drawn paintings of a mountain with coal deposits, the entrances and tunnels, methods of making the tunnels secure, various mining equipment (including baskets, picks, barrels), wagons to transport the coal within and outside of the coal mine, a female miner taking a bath, etc. There is an inscription at the end of this section in which the author relates the best areas for coal mining (Yonezawa, Tazawa, and Tamaniwa).

The second part of this scroll makes a dramatic shift to the plant gaube (otherwise known as gampi), which is used to make high-quality washi paper. There is a fine illustration of the plant. Paper (known as gampishi) from this plant repels insects and therefore has always been an important commodity.

This is followed by a commentary in which the author discusses a late 17th-century washi papermaker, Tokube, in Harima Province, who made presents of his fine paper to the Jurinji Temple. Also provided are recipes for making the washi paper from the inner bark of the gampi plant, along with pulp from the mulberry plant (kozo). There are instructions on the techniques of making sheets of paper. The author writes that there are three countries with a tradition of making fine paper in various colors and qualities: Thailand, China, and Japan.

In fine condition.

Price: $5,500.00

Item ID: 6587

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