Bakyo taizen [Complete Collection of Equine Classics]. Shih-wen MA, or Shiwen.
Bakyo taizen [Complete Collection of Equine Classics].
Bakyo taizen [Complete Collection of Equine Classics].
Bakyo taizen [Complete Collection of Equine Classics].

With Many Fine Illustrations

Bakyo taizen [Complete Collection of Equine Classics].

Many illus. (many full-page or double-page). 50; 73; 49; 40 folding leaves. Four vols. Large 8vo, orig. blue wrappers, remains of block-printed title labels on upper covers (each label partly rubbed away), new stitching. Osaka: Ogawa et al., 1786

Second Japanese edition (1st ed.: ca. 1728-30), written in Chinese with Japanese reading marks, of one of the most important Chinese veterinary medicine books, first published in China in 1608. Recent scholarship has shown (see Buell, May, & Ramey, “Chinese Horse Medicine: Texts and Illustrations” in Imagining Chinese Medicine, eds. Vivienne Lo & Penelope Barrett, 2018, pp. 315-26), that this text is not the work of two brothers, Yuan and Heng, horse specialists with long experience. Actually, it is a new edition of an earlier text, the Yuan Heng liaoma ji (Collection for Treating Horses), now lost. It has been compiled from a variety of sources.

“Spurious attribution notwithstanding, this [text] is an extraordinarily rich work. It is in six books and includes detailed discussions of a variety of topics: horse physiognomy; horse whorl lore, a kind of divination based upon close examination of the configurations assumed by a horse’s hair that is also found outside of China; horse diagnosis and physiology; horse pathology, including a consideration of the eye diseases of the horse; taboo and propitious days for treatments; correspondences; and a huge section, comprising all of books 3 and 4, on specific conditions and the treatments preferred for them. At the end of the book, there is also a detailed listing of herbal medicines and preparation and their specific applications.”–Buell et al., p. 316–(& see references to the 1608 edition & reproductions of illustrations throughout the Lo & Barrett book).

The book is divided into four sections: “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn,” and “Winter,” each with many chapters of diagnosis and treatment. The attractive title-page in the first volume depicts several breeds of horses. There is a fine full-page woodcut of a Chinese professor of veterinary medicine seated with open books, surrounded by students. There are a series of illustrations depicting pressure points on the horses (and the author stresses that the pressure points are very different from those on humans). There is a long section on the significance of the color of the tongue (with a most attractive woodcut showing a doctor examining a horse’s tongue). We also find extensive sections on acupuncture, the bleeding of horses, constipation and kinds of enemas, dentition from age one to twelve (12 small woodcuts showing the changes), upset stomachs and vomiting, recipes for herbal medicines, hemorrhoids, joint pains, respiratory illnesses, fevers, diseases of the kidneys, birthing, eye diseases, heart problems, blood in the urine, diseases of the hoof, castration of stallions, auspicious days for surgery, etc., etc.

The final volume is devoted to rules on how to feed and water horses correctly, with many recipes.

A fine set, with some minor worming, mostly marginal.

Price: $5,500.00

Item ID: 6684