Ketsugon jitsuron [Mirror Illuminating the Provisional and the Real]. SAICHO.
Ketsugon jitsuron [Mirror Illuminating the Provisional and the Real].
Ketsugon jitsuron [Mirror Illuminating the Provisional and the Real].

A Rare “Eizan-ban”

Ketsugon jitsuron [Mirror Illuminating the Provisional and the Real].

10 columns per page; 20 characters per column. 30 folding leaves. Large 8vo, orig. brown wrappers, cont. manuscript title label on upper cover, new stitching. Mount Hiei, outside of Kyoto: Enryakuji monastery complex, ca. 1617-18.

First edition of this rare and important text (no copy in WorldCat, Kawase, or NIJL), printed with movable wooden type. This is an uncommon example of an Eizan-ban, “editions published at the Enryakuji monastery complex on Mount Hiei outside Kyoto. There were few of these in the medieval period…Eizan printing came into its own on a large scale only from the end of the sixteenth century, with the introduction of movable-type printing. Typographic printing flourished at various temples on Hieizan from the Keicho to Kan’ei periods (1596-1644), and with the publication of Chinese works as well as Tendai scriptures, publication and distribution at Hieizan began to develop into the beginnings of a commercial enterprise.”–K.B. Gardner, “Centres of Printing in Medieval Japan: late Heian to early Edo period” in British Library Occasional Papers 11. Japanese Studies (ed. by Yu-Ying Brown), London: 1990, p. 164.

This copy appeared in the 40th-anniversary catalogue (No. 42) of the great Japanese bookseller Shigeo Sorimachi. That important catalogue, published in 1972, was devoted to movable type books, and our book was item 293 (pp. 364-65).

Saicho (767-822), the founder of the Tendai school of Buddhism in Japan, was commissioned by the emperor to go to China to further study in the Tiantai school of Buddhism and bring back more accurate sacred texts. Saicho left for the mainland in 803 as part of a four-ship diplomatic mission. After great difficulties, he made his way to Mount Tiantai and studied with the seventh Patriarch of Tiantai, Daosui. Saicho spent his time on Mount Tiantai studying and arranging for a large number of works to be copied. He also visited two temples in nearby Yuezhou where he had copied other esoteric texts.

Saicho brought back with him to Japan about 230 Buddhist manuscripts. “In 811 Saicho deposited in a temple on Mt Hiei the books and Buddhist implements he had acquired in China and drew up a catalogue of the collection, part of which survives in his own hand. This became the foundation of the collection in one of the three comprehensive Buddhist libraries on Mt Hiei in the early Heian period.”–Kornicki, The Book in Japan, p. 367.

Saicho engaged in a number of religious and political controversies, including a prolonged and well-known debate in 817-21 with the Hosso scholar Tokuitsu (780?-842?), concerning the Buddha-nature and Tendai doctrines, such as original enlightenment. The present work prints Saicho’s series of writings from this debate, which had remained in manuscript until the publication of our book. For more on this famous debate, see James L. Ford’s Jokei and Buddhist Devotion in Early Medieval Japan (OUP: 2006), pp. 47-50 and Richard Bowring’s The Religious Traditions of Japan, 500-1600 (CUP: 2005), pp. 131-32.

A very good copy, preserved in a chitsu, which has the handwriting of Mr. Sorimachi’s bibliographer, Mr. Mori, on the label. There is some worming, both marginal and occasionally touching some characters, but we do not find it offensive.

Price: $18,500.00

Item ID: 8214

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