An assembled scroll, measuring 408 x 2260 mm., consisting of four sheets of paper (sheet height is 350 mm.; the four sheets are 1630 mm. in total length), recently backed with green silk fabric borders. Genpaku SUGITA, attributed to.
An assembled scroll, measuring 408 x 2260 mm., consisting of four sheets of paper (sheet height is 350 mm.; the four sheets are 1630 mm. in total length), recently backed with green silk fabric borders.

Attributed to Genpaku Sugita

An assembled scroll, measuring 408 x 2260 mm., consisting of four sheets of paper (sheet height is 350 mm.; the four sheets are 1630 mm. in total length), recently backed with green silk fabric borders.

[Japan]: before 1811.

Genpaku Sugita (1733-1817), one of the most renowned of all Japanese medical doctors, was a physician and scholar in Tokyo. In 1771, he was one of two lead physicians to witness the famous dissection of an executed female criminal. He was accompanied by several fellow doctors, all of whom had studied Dutch medicine. During the dissection, Sugita and his colleagues noticed the extreme accuracy of the images in the Dutch medical book Tabulae Anatomicae (1731) of Kulmus. Sugita decided to learn Dutch and translate the book into Japanese and illustrate it. He worked with his fellow physicians and in 1774 published the famous Kaitai Shinsho [The New Book of Dissection]. “This classic work was a milestone in the history of medicine, and particularly of anatomy, in Japan, marking as it did the transition from the traditional Chinese medical teachings to the period when medical knowledge (anatomy) was to be based strictly upon human dissection and when anatomical inferences were to be confirmed ‘in the flesh,’ so to speak. Kaitai shinsho was the first Japanese translation of a Western anatomical work…[it] launched a long series of anatomical works.”–Mestler, A Galaxy of Old Japanese Medical Books, I, p. 311.

The first sheet of paper, measuring 350 x 245 mm., is a fine brush and ink portrait of Shennong (or Shen Nung), the deity who first instructed the Chinese in the use of herbal drugs and many other aspects of medicine. The image shows Shennong tasting a plant, one of the classic depictions of this god. It would be pleasant to think this finely drawn portrait was executed by Sugita himself.

The second sheet measures 350 x 475 mm. and contains three illustrations. There is a note on the right side of the sheet stating that these images are a combination of Japanese, Chinese, and Dutch medicine and the information comes from Ryotaku Maeno (1723-1803). He was the other leading physician to witness the dissection with Sugita and worked with him on the translation. The first image depicts the anatomy of the chest and abdomen (lungs, heart, and intestines) and genitals. Above and below this image are a series of pharmaceutical recipes. The second image depicts an infected foot with a tourniquet at mid-calf. A knife is shown where it has opened and cleaned the infection. Explanatory text is above and to the left. The third image shows a tourniquet at mid-thigh, the resulting constricted artery, and two Western-style forceps entering the calf muscle. The text just to the left describes the procedure. On the extreme left is a note stating “1811, March, Genpaku true hand” with traces of a now-faded seal.

The third sheet, measuring 350 x 495 mm., is related to the previous sheet and depicts a series of herbal plants, all labelled. They include mountain lilies, fish mint, poison orchid, smilax glabra, garlic, and one we cannot identify. At the end of this image, on the bottom left, there is another note stating “Genpaku” with a faded illegible seal.

The final sheet (350 x 415 mm.) is a calligraphic statement regarding medicine and physicians. The first column can be translated in several ways: “Medicine is a benevolent Art” or “Humanistic Medicine” or “Physicians practice compassionate healing.” The next five columns appear to be poems on medicine and its value to society (but this is really hard to read and we are not entirely certain). The final three columns state “1811, March. Japanese, Chinese, Dutch medical practice. Genpaku” with the same faded seal. We know that Genpaku wrote poetry.

In very good condition.

Price: $15,000.00

Item ID: 6690