Item ID: 8672 Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”]. KOEN GANGU, PRECIOUS TOOLS OF THE INCENSE CEREMONY.
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].

The Way of the Incense

Manuscript on paper, entitled on gold paper label on upper cover: “Zu no maki. Kurabuyama atozuke [“Illustrated. Later Thoughts on Mt. Kurabuyama”].

Numerous very fine brush & ink illus. in the text & 52 stamped mon. 19 folding leaves (the first two leaves & the final leaf are blank). Large 8vo (292 x 210 mm.), orig. patterned wrappers, stitched as issued (stitching a little loose), gold-decorated endpapers. [Japan]: mid-Edo.

An uncommonly well-illustrated and interesting manuscript, which appears to be unpublished; our manuscript is a copy, with considerable variations, of the Buddhist priest Ningai’s “Koen [or “Kodo”] gangu,” which first circulated in manuscript about 1729. Ningai (1675-1747 or 1670-1752), was active in the Yonekawa ryu incense ceremony school in Kyoto. His “Koen gangu,”which also has the alternate title “Jusshuko kurabuyama,” has remained unpublished. Our manuscript is written in a very fine hand.

The Shino school of incense ceremony was established in the Muromachi period and still exists today. The founder of the school, Shino Soshin (1443-1537), is considered the originator of kodo (“the way of the incense”), a ritual appreciation of fragrances practiced in small groups and following specific performance schemes. As part of kodo, games of incense appreciation (kumiko) developed and were formalized by the middle of the 16th century. These games were often based on seasonal themes, history, classical literature, waka poetry, and travel. More than 200 types of kumiko games have been handed down from past generations.

“During the Edo period (1600-1868), the kumikos became more refined. Playing kumiko became a method by which participants cultivated their knowledge and improved spirits. In other words, kumiko is not just a game for appreciating scents. Rather, the olfactory experience is combined with the poetic experience of the four seasons, as these play an important part in the theme of many kumikos. More generally, a large number of kumikos that were created between the end of the Muromachi period and up to the Edo period, take up motifs of classical literature from the Heian and the Kamakura periods, meaning of waka (classical Japanese poetry), monogatari (Japanese prose narrative tales), and kanshi (Chinese and Chinese-like poetry)…Following the connection of kumikos with literary models, this pursuit took on an exceptional artistic character…The participant of a ko ceremony simultaneously appreciates the literary poesy and the poesy of the scents. In other words, the olfactory experience is not only imagined, but paves the way towards the literary experience…Thus, in practicing kodo, the literary and olfactory experiences complement each other and merge in harmony.”–Satoru Horiguchi & Dinah Jung, “Kodo — Its Spiritual and Game Elements and Its Interrelations with the Japanese Literary Arts” in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Jan. 2013), 3rd Series, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 78-79 & 82.

The illustrations in this manuscript are uncommonly well executed and very clear. The manuscript begins with a series of seven pages of illustrations of the tools used in kodo. The first includes the koro (incense burner), its protective cloth wrapper on a tray (kobon), and the tool stand with its wrapper made of decorated netting. The next image depicts kodo tools such as the hibashi (metal chopsticks to move the coals), the kosaji (a very decorative spoon with an elongated handle), the kobashi (a type of decorative chopsticks), the hiai (a sort of poker), the haboki (a feather broom), the hai osae (used to make patterns impressed on the ashes), and the gin hasami (a silver pincer). All of these are lying on their protective wrapper.

The following illustration depicts the ginban (the silver-rimmed mica heat disperser) and its ginban ire (lidded container). Another lidded container, in the form of a Mandarin duck, is also shown. Below is the ju kogo (a highly decorated stacked lacquer box ,which contains the charcoals), and its own wrapper.

The following illustration depicts ko-fuda (incense tiles used to submit answers), and their storage box and its sub-boxes. On the opposing page, we find illustrations of various wrappers.

The next page shows ten kinds of orisue (envelopes for fuda), the preliminary burner of charcoal (hitori koro), and its lid. We also see the vessel to deposit the fuda (fuda zutsu). On the opposite page we see illustrations of various kinds of papers for answers.

Now the artist turns his attention to the games themselves, depicting four of them: keibako, yakazuko, meishoko, and Genjiko. For the first three games, he illustrates the boards and layouts (with measurements), the peg holes, the tatemono (ornamental pegs), and ningyo (dolls).

The remaining six pages of illustrations are devoted to the incense game Genjiko, which is based on the 54 chapters of the Tale of Genji. The Genji mon (52 geometrical emblems) along with two scenes from the first and last chapters are illustrated in red ink (the mon have been individually stamped). Each of the geometrical emblems has a finely rendered scene from the relevant chapter; these mostly represent natural settings, with many depictions of flowers, trees, mountains, water, and small creatures like birds, butterflies, and a dragonfly hovering over reeds.

The remaining portion of the manuscript is all text, consisting of 20 sections, describing the tools and variations possible within the tools. There is also further information on how to play the four games mentioned above, how to arrange the boards, how to decorate the dolls and pegs, appropriate colors, how to make stamps for mon, how to store all the tools and dolls, etc.

The second phrase on the label on the upper cover refers to the incense game Kurabuyama, one of the popular jusshuko games. The tools for this game are described in the text.

In excellent condition, preserved in a chitsu. Minor marginal worming.

Price: $9,500.00

Item ID: 8672