94 fine paintings in color in the text. 20; 21 folding leaves. Two vols. Oblong 8vo (205 x 290 mm.), orig. wrappers, stitched as issued. [Japan]: based on the zodiac sign on the outside of the lower wrapper of the first volume, these manuscripts were copied in either 1725, 1749, 1785, 1809, 1845, or 1869 (we think it is mid- to late Edo).
Two fascinating and well-illustrated Japanese manuscripts based on the precepts of Chinese physiognomy, which has a long history both in medicine and in predicting fortunes. The inside of the upper wrapper of the first volume contains a discussion of wuxing (the five phases or elements) and the eight phases of physiognomy.
The first part of the first volume contains 13 fine color images of faces. Each face is assesed on the five and eight phases. For instance, the first face is “metal”: an elongated face with strong features, and the eyes white and bright. These qualities are predictive of a wealthy person throughout life, with good luck, health, and considerable talent. The remaining 12 faces all have particular qualities, which are predictive of success or lack thereof and good or bad health. For each face, there is considerable text explaining the qualities of the person.
The second part is devoted to the theory of palm reading. Twelve left hands are shown, with discussions of the different lines in each one, then six right hands with explanations.
Now we are introduced to the theory of finger reading; eight fingers are shown, each analyzed. Finally, we have text on the theory of the lips and mouths. There are illustrations of seven closed mouths and seven mouths revealing teeth. Each has explanatory text.
The second volume begins with a long discussion of how to diagnose the complexion. This is followed by 23 fine color drawings of 12 men’s and 11 women’s faces, each with different complexions and features (one has hair growing out of his ears, another is sallow; one man has veins in his face clearly visible, another has sagging jowls, etc.).
The next section of text is concerned with what to expect physically in each age, from birth to 100 years old. This is followed by illustrations of women’s breasts and navels with detailed discussions of how to predict health based on their appearances.
Concluding the second volume is an account of ears, accompanied by 12 drawings of ears, ranging from “noble” to the unscrupulous.
In very good condition. There is some worming, but we do not find it offensive. We learn from the outside of the lower wrapper of the first volume that the first name of the copier was either “Tamehisa” or “Tametoshi.”.
Item ID: 8219