Atlas vol.: Woodcut title-page, 33 delicately hand-colored plates (one folding), one page of text. Third vol. of text with 4 double-page & 24 full-page woodcuts. Text vols.: Title-page & 60; 49; 59.5 folding leaves. Three vols. of text & one vol. of atlas. 8vo, orig. patterned blue semi-stiff wrappers, block-printed title labels on upper covers (labels rather rubbed), new stitching. Osaka, Kyoto, & Edo: Kawachiya kashichi et al., December 1810.
First edition, complete with the rare atlas. “The most important Japanese orthopedic work was published in 1810 by Bunken Kagami (1755-1819) with the title Seikotsu shinsho. Based on Chinese medical science, it presented a system of surgical treatment to cure injuries to bone, principally of fractures and dislocations, with instructions on how to stop bleeding and to bind or immobilize the injured part by bandaging. The value of materia medica in the orthopedic practice of that time in Japan was recognized by a section on the compounding of prescriptions. The Seikotsu shinsho consisted of three volumes of text, with wood-block illustrations of orthopedic instruments, detailed drawings of the mechanism of an adjustable table for the examination of patients, how to prepare corrective bandages and pictures showing their application to a variety of conditions. That work was accompanied by an atlas volume with the separate title Kakkotsu shinkeizu, on descriptions of the bones and ligaments, and included 33 finely-drawn osteological plates, printed from wood-blocks (hand-colored in the copy in the writer’s collection), covering the entire bony skeleton, these plates being referred to and discussed in the text of the Seikotsu shinsho…
“The illustrations in the atlas in the writer’s collection are specially hand-colored, with a delicacy that brings into striking clarity the curved surfaces of the bones. It is interesting to note drawings of the bones of the hand and foot in the form of ‘exploded’ diagrams, a technique of functional illustration used so effectively in present-day teaching methods. The writer has rarely seen osteological illustrations more accurately or more beautifully represented than those to be found in Kakkotsu shinkeizu. Unfortunately, the artist’s name is unknown.”–Mestler, A Galaxy of Old Japanese Medical Books, III, p. 152 & I, p. 319.
Kagami started his medical profession as an obstetrician and gynecologist but found he needed greater knowledge of the anatomy of the human body. This led him to participate in a number of dissections, most notably one in 1800 of a deceased female criminal. His studies inspired him to write the present book and to construct a famous wooden model of the skeleton of a human body, which he donated to the bakufu’s medical school in Edo where it still survives.
Fine and fresh set, preserved in a chitsu. Minor worming at front and back of Vol. III.
Item ID: 8981