33 small woodcuts in the text. Single line borders at top & bottom of each page; double-line borders on each side of page. Ten columns; 19 characters per column. All columns of text divided by lines. 52 folding leaves. Three parts in one vol. (with consecutive pagination). Large 8vo (282 x 200 mm.), orig. wrappers stained dark brown with fermented persimmon juice (wrappers rubbed & tired), new stitching. [Japan]: a gozan-ban of the late Muromachi era (16th century).
The third-earliest medical book to be printed in Japan. This is an extremely rare, late Muromachi-era edition (a gozan-ban, with no copy in WorldCat) of one of the major Chinese texts on the pulse and diagnostic methods of the Song dynasty. Shi was a Southern Song dynasty doctor; this work was first published in China in 1241 (although no copy of that edition seems to have survived).
According to Prof. Makoto Mayanagi of the Department of the History of Medicine at the Kitasato Institute (see his article “Nicchukan koiseki no tokucho to kanren” [“The Characteristics and Relations Between Old Medical Books of Japan, China and Korea”], online resource), the first medical book printed in Japan was Xiong Zongli’s Yi shu da quan [J.: Isho taizen] of 1528. Xiong’s Su jie ba shi yi Nan jing [Zokukai hachijuichi nankyo] followed in 1536. Our undated edition is the third to be printed.
Since ancient times, traditional Chinese medicine has relied on five main diagnostic skills to make a judgment regarding the health of a patient: visual inspection (including the tongue), olfaction, learning the medical history of the patient, palpation, and the taking of the pulse. In this tradition, there are some 29 pulse types (Shi describes 33), including the floating pulse, scattered pulse, hollow pulse, deep pulse, hidden pulse, firm pulse, slow pulse, moderate pulse, swift pulse, surging pulse, thready pulse, long pulse, short pulse, feeble pulse, weak pulse, faint pulse, replete pulse, slippery pulse, stirred pulse, unsmooth pulse, wiry pulse, tight pulse, tympanic pulse, soggy pulse, irregularly intermittent pulse, irregular pulse, irregular-rapid pulse, and intermittent pulse. Correct interpretation of the pulse took years of practice and experience to master.
In this work, Shi explains how to make a diagnosis and employs a complicated pulse system. He covers 33 types of pulses; each of the 33 text woodcuts depicts the characteristics of a certain pulse. Shi discusses the five organs, the twelve meridians, the varieties of irregular pulses and their relationships to certain diseases (including typhoid, fevers, diabetes, diarrhea, intestinal problems, hemorrhoids, cough, stroke, insanity, cholera, internal bleeding, and poisoning), methods of diagnosing internal diseases, various symptoms (sweating, nausea, palpitations, etc.), obstetrical and pediatric matters, etc., etc.
The series of small woodcuts in the second part depicts in a most interesting way the kinds of irregular pulses.
As mentioned above, this is a so-called gozan-ban, which were exclusively Chinese Buddhist and secular texts. “Gozan-ban is a general term embracing all those books published by monks of the Zen sect, chiefly at the five Zen monasteries at Kamakura and the five at Kyoto, over a period of more than 200 years between mid-Kamakura and late Muromachi. The appearance of the printed page in most Gozan editions follows a distinctly Chinese style. The effect is somewhat dense and crowded, caused by packing the Chinese characters tightly together with more regard for economy of space than for aesthetic effect. In this the Gozan editions differ markedly from all other early Japanese printed books, which are more generously spaced. The reasons for this are twofold: the books tend to be chiefly reprints of Chinese Song and Yuan editions, and during the fourteenth century many Chinese blockcutters came over from the continent and practised their craft on a semi-commercial basis and on a fairly large scale.”–K.B. Gardner, “Centres of Printing in Medieval Japan: Late Heian to Early Edo period” in British Library Occasional Papers 11. Japanese Studies (ed. Yu-Ying Brown), London: 1990, p. 164.
This was a very popular text in Japan, and there were several 17th-century editions, including at least one movable type book.
A very good copy, preserved in a chitsu. Some minor staining and browning. Ten leaves with marginal gnawing by a hungry mouse. Minor marginal worming, and final 18 leaves with more worming touching characters (which remain entirely legible). With the seals of Obama Toshie (1889-1972), journalist, politician, and important bibliophile. His library was sold upon his death.
❧ See Kazuma Kawase’s bibliography of movable type books printed in Japan (1967), Vol. II, p. 681, where he describes our edition.
Item ID: 8909