12 full-page hand-colored woodcut illus. (each with several figures, some with text) & one black & white full-page illus. 61 folding leaves. Four parts in one vol. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. block-printed title label on upper cover, new stitching. [Japan, probably Kyoto]: Preface dated 1690.
First edition, and very rare, of this work on funerary rites by Nakamura (1629-1702/03), written in classical Chinese with Japanese kunten reading marks. The 12 woodcut illustrations have been beautifully colored by hand at an early date. Nakamura, who probably had a merchant background, was a Neo-Confucian scholar in the early Tokugawa period and he and Ito Jinsai (1627-1705) were considered the preeminent scholars of their generation. Nakamura wrote the first illustrated encyclopedia to be published in Japan. His Neo-Confucian learning, influenced by Zhu Xi (1130-1200) and largely focused on ritual, is seen in this work on funerary rites.
When it comes to sons’ and daughters’ respectful acts towards their kin, the ceremonies of birthdays and funerals must all be carried out according to ritual in order to be called filially pious. The ritual of carrying out the veneration of a birthday, however, can be slowly discussed in advance. Only the handling of the ceremony of a funeral arrives suddenly, and the texts on the topic are many and complicated. Even though one has once practiced it in the past, when misfortune suddenly strikes, the ritual is confused and panicked and cannot be handled alone.
In words reminiscent of the precise Confucian textual scholarship that was on the rise in Japan in this period, Nakamura wrote (in trans.) that
the abandonment of the method of ritual in later ages makes the ancient ways particularly difficult to restore, even more so as the customs of our country are shallow, having been separated from the teaching and not knowing that there is such a thing as the rituals of the former kings [of Chinese antiquity].
Nakamura had thus made the present book “in four juan on the basis of Master Zhu [Xi’s] funerary rituals, presenting a summary of what is commonly followed by the learned.” Nakamura’s book explais the process in detail, beginning with the handling of a terminally sick person before death. A commentary expounds on the instructions.
The fine hand-colored woodcuts depict coffins, garments and undergarments for the deceased, furniture and decorations for ceremonies, banners, wooden pillows, tombs, ornate palanquins, lanterns, how to lower the coffin into the tomb, a mausoleum, tombstones, and a black & white depiction of the seating plan according to family relationship.
Our copy contains a Preface dated late in 1690. We find no copy in WorldCat.
Very good copy. Some worming throughout, carefully mended and mostly marginal.
Item ID: 9438