Famine Relief

Minkan bikoroku [On Providing for the People in Time of Famine].

50; 37 folding leaves. Two vols. 8vo, orig. patterned wrappers (covers discolored), orig. block-printed title labels no longer present, new stitching. Edo: Suharaya Ichibei, 1771.

First edition of this classic and important book; the earliest edition in WorldCat is dated 1833. This is the first book on famine relief to be published in Japan.

Takebe (1721-82), came from a prominent family of physicians that had for generations been in service to the domain of Ichinoseki. Following his medical studies with Jutetsu Matsui, physician to the domain of Ichinoseki, he went to Edo, where he studied Western-style medicine with Jui Tominaga. Takebe soon thereafter became physician to his native domain. He was well acquainted with the famous physician Genpaku Sugita: both his third and fifth sons studied with Genpaku, who also adopted Takebe’s fifth son, Hakugen.

Takebe wrote the present work in 1755 during a region-wide famine of great proportions in an effort to improve the food supply. He submitted the manuscript of this work to his fiefdom lord in December of the same year. Manuscript copies were immediately made and circulated to each village of the fiefdom. As the desperate population was constantly falling ill by unknowingly eating poisonous plants, Takebe describes here about 85 edible plants and trees (with regional names) available for foraging. Takebe discusses the medical and nutritional benefits of each edible plant and how to cook it. He also gives recipes for antidotes to counteract the ingestion of poisonous foods.

The text was finally printed in 1771, 16 years following the dispersal of manuscript copies.

Fine set.

Price: $6,500.00

Item ID: 6774