Six vols. Small 4to (135 x 123 mm.), orig. boards, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers. [Japan]: mid-Edo.
A collection of six volumes, gathered by the Buddhist monk and shomyo master named Kenshin (d. 1683?), containing printed Japanese Buddhist ceremonial music notation for chanting, beautifully printed on mica paper. “The generic name for Japanese Buddhist chant is ‘shomyo,’ from a Chinese translation of Sanskrit sabdavidya, the science of words of sounds (i.e. grammar and phonology), which was one of the panca-vidya, the five subjects of traditional Brahmanic study…For a thousand years, shomyo has connoted above all Tendai and Shingon chant…Tendai and Shingon chant are the most elaborate to be found in any Buddhist country.”–New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Vol. 9, pp. 508-09.
“The most ancient forms of chants and intoned psalms are represented by the Shingon School and the Tendai School. In 1173 Kekan, the disciple of the master Ryonin (1073-1132), who was a disciple of the master En’nin the founder of the Tendai School in the 9th century, collected the most common chants in six volumes. Thus was created the book of chants entitled ‘Gyosan Shomyo Rok hanjo [sic. Rokkan jo],’ which is still used today as a manual in the Ohararyu (Tendai) School. The chants are divided into three types, the bon san, Sanskrit chants; the kan-san, Chinese chants; and the wa san, Japanese chants.”–Tran Van Khe, Buddhist Music in Eastern Asia,” in The World of Music, Vol. 26, No. 3, Sacred Music II (1984), p. 24.
Our collection comprises:
Vol. 1: Kenso joko enon, 38 pp.;
Vol. 2: Kenso geko enon, 28 pp.;
Vol. 3: Misshu johon ryo kaion, 111 pp.;
Vol. 4: Misshu jomatsu ryo kaion, 22 pp.;
Vol. 5: Misshu gehon kan chuon, 66 pp.;
Vol. 6: Misshu gematsu kan chuon, 4 pp.
For an excellent discussion of the tradition and meaning of Buddhist chanting and the notation used in these books, see Jackson Hill, “Ritual Music in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism: Shingon Shomyo” in Ethnomusicology, Vol. 26, No. 1, 25th Anniversary Issue (Jan. 1982), pp. 27-39.
In very good condition, preserved in a chitsu. The blue boards a little rubbed and wormed. The texts of Vols. 2-6 are somewhat wormed but not in a disturbing way.
Item ID: 7028