Item ID: 9908 Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”. KISO VALLEY FORESTRY SCROLLS, JAPAN.
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”
Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”

Two emaki (illustrated scrolls) on paper, entitled on labels on outsides: “Sanrin batsuzai zukai 山林伐材図解, “Mountain Forests, Felling Trees, Illustrated & Described”; Scroll 1 sub-title: “Batsuboku” 伐木, “How to Fell a Tree”; Scroll 2 sub-title: “Kawagari” 川狩, “Capturing the Timber.”

40 scenes (one of which includes three images). Two picture scrolls (263 x 9660 mm. & 263 x 12,240 mm.), numerous finely hand-drawn paintings in many colors of pigments, gold paper title labels on outer covers, inner endpapers with silver speckles, modern wooden rollers. [Japan: late Edo].

Japan has long maintained its forests as a treasured economic resource, treating their trees as a valuable financial asset as well as a place to satisfy the citizens’ love of nature and as a source of their livelihoods.

Following several centuries of pronounced deforestation, forest management policies in Japan were reformed, beginning in the second half of the 17th century, in order to halt further destruction to the landscape, reverse the damage already caused, and safely sustain forest output. Both the shogunate and heads of the ca. 250 daimyo domains began to develop improved methods of regenerative forestry with the explicit aim of maximizing the forests’ financial and social value. By the 18th century, forest management emerged as a widely practiced and deliberate undertaking. Vast forests of cedar, cypress, pine, oak, and chestnut trees were created.

The Kiso forest has been famous for centuries for the quality and abundance of its lumber. The “Kiso Goboku” is a group of five distinguished species of trees from the Kiso region; they are regarded as amongst the finest trees in Japan and have considerable cultural and religious significance. Kiso timber was reserved for castles, palaces, the residences of the elite, temples and shrines, as well as for government buildings and mansions of the heads of the daimyo. The demand was continuous and enormous, especially because these monumental buildings, along with large areas of the major cities, frequently experienced destruction by fire.

Through the vast Kiso valley forest the Kiso river runs from north-northwest to south -southwest, emptying out in Ise Bay, near the great city of Nagoya; the 229 km.-long river was a major artery for the transportation of enormous quantities of timber for several centuries.

Our two beautiful and richly illustrated scrolls depict this valley’s forestry activities in the Edo period, from harvesting trees, replanting, and the transportation of timber to markets downriver. Our description is largely dependent on Prof. Conrad Totman’s account of forestry in the Kiso region in his The Lumber Industry in Early Modern Japan (1995), pp. 55-76. He has utilized two scrolls belonging to the Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry, which are very similar to ours.

Prof. Totman identifies the seven stages of bringing timber from the mountain to the metropolis, following identification of areas to log: “1. assembling the logs; 2. working logs down the mountainside (yamaotoshi), 3. sending logs down the ravine (shokokugari); 4. floating logs down the river (okawagari); 5. processing logs at the boom; 6. rafting logs to the shipping point; and 7. marketing and shipping timber by sea” (p. 58).

The first scroll comprises of 20 “scenes” within frames, each with a description on the left-hand side. The first scene depicts surveyors in remote parts of the valley searching for satisfactory stands of trees. We learn from the notes on the left that the surveyors carried rice, salt, soy sauce, and a pot for their extended stays in the mountains. Their job was to assess the quantity and quality of the trees and estimate how many men were required to cut down and transport the trees to the river.

The second and third scenes depict the lumbermen at their mountain bunkhouse and its interior. Cooking equipment, well-organized sleeping quarters (each man had the space of one mat), and a heat source running the length of the hut, are shown. The notes describe the various skills of the men and the duties of the foremen (mostly to maintain and record daily production levels). We see men carrying kindling, cooking, playing board games, weaving sandals, etc. Details on rations are given.

First stage: the fourth scene depicts two foresters bowing in front of a tree that has been converted into an altar. They are praying to the god of the mountain.

The next scene shows foresters chopping the trunks of trees with axes. The adjacent note states that they have notified the resident birds and squirrels about the imminent destruction of their homes by crying out a warning, repeated three times.

Scene 6 shows the foresters drying a newly cut elm tree with fire and limbing another. Scene 7 depicts two supervisors measuring a felled tree, and the next two scenes show the preparation of the logs for shipment by squaring the logs and putting notches in them for ease of handling. Scene 10 shows a man inserting a tree shoot in a stump of a just-harvested tree to prepare for regrowth of the forest.

Now we begin the second stage: working the logs down the mountainside (yamaotoshi). This is the most difficult and dangerous stage of the transportation process. We see logs being lowered down cliffs by rope, using a tree as a friction grip (scene 11); lumbermen using a series of elevated skidways erected on steep hillsides to slide logs down to the river (scene 12); curtain logs (noren) to control the speed of the descending timber (scene 13); and the arranging the logs to descend a waterfall on their sides to avoid damage (14).

Stage three commenced at the point where stream flow was sufficient to serve the transporters; scenes 15-17 depict a splash dam and chutes (shura) built in order to bypass ledge outcroppings and boulders along small streams. Workers used pole-hooks and water power to steer the timber. Because of the variable terrain, not all of the transport was downhill. Chutes filled with water were fabricated, enabling the workers to use hooks to haul the lumber up the inclined chutes. The notes describe the materials used to make the chutes watertight: moss, grass, and fallen leaves. Scene 18 shows a group of workers moving a special piece of timber intended for rebuilding the Ise Shine. This is a good opportunity to study the lumbermen’s varied attire.

Scene 19 depicts the various tools used by the lumbermen: several kinds of axes and saws, a backpack made from cedar bark to carry the tools, and measuring and marking instruments. The final image depicts the shapes of timber — squared or split — which the skilled woodsmen would create (some of which clearly show advanced finishing), ownership marks, and more tools used by the lumbermen.

The second scroll is concerned with stages four to seven, transporting the timber to market. The first scene shows a lumberman taking a talisman to the Ise Shrine to bring good luck. The next scenes (2-8) show the stages of floating logs down the river (ōkawagari): we see a man on a small raft made of logs, men on rocks in the middle of the fast-moving river with long poles freeing and guiding the lumber, a raft with two workers, protective barriers of beached and anchored logs at treacherous spots and bends where logs might be damaged or stranded or might snag and create jams, a drawbridge of lumber allowing workers to cross the river for improved access, and the careful movement of lumber over a waterfall by lumbermen standing on stationary rafts suspended from above.

Stage five begins with image 9, a magnificent painting that shows the lumber arriving at the major boom site at the town of Nishikori, where the logs gather and rest in still water against an enormous barrier stretched across the river. This boom was composed of vines, logs, stakes, and buoy logs. Here the timber is sorted, measured, and taxed. Government buildings are evident. Large rafts of lumber are formed by lashing the logs together. Image 10 shows a magnification of the complex structure of the boom, with each part labelled. The 11th image shows a laborer performing acrobatic movements on a floating beam (kakunori) to amuse his colleagues during a break.

Image 12 is composed of three scenes: we see a timber winch being used to lower lumber safely down a treacherous part of the river; a log trapped behind a rock with a descending rope used to free it; and a basket holding a man being lowered down a cliff to the river in order to manually free trapped logs. Stage six begins with image 13: a depiction of a raftsman and his attire and equipment. The following scene shows three rafts, lashed together with vines, each with three raftsmen holding poles and rudders, floating down the Kiso river to the Ise Bay and Shiratori, the port city of Nagoya. Image 15 shows the details of a log raft structure, with each part labelled with information on how to assemble the raft. Many place names are given along the river, where the raftsmen would stop for the night.

Stage seven: image 16 is long and magnificent: we see rafts on the Ise Bay enroute to the busy port of Shiratori with its vast lumberyards and storage warehouses. The “beach mansion” of the lord of the Owari domain, the Atsuta shrine gate, inns, and numerous government buildings are shown.

Image 17 depicts the rafts, now at Shiratori, being beached and disassembled. Two men are standing in front of a government office. The 18th image shows how the timber was stacked, dried, and prepared for marketing. We see laborers carrying timber up a long ramp, composed of logs, for stacking to dry while others return for their next load. Scene 19 shows the logs being moved to the water to make rafts, which would head for large ships waiting in Ise Bay. It was loaded on to ships for more distant markets, including Osaka and Edo.

The final scene — very long — depicts one of these log rafts approaching a large ship. The raft would be dismantled by six workers who, using winches, would load the logs on to the ship. There is another view of the ship under sail, fully loaded. We can tell that the lumber was owned by the government because of the raft’s flag. Text follows with details of the dimensions and components of these large freighters.

Some worming, carefully repaired; preserved in a fine old wooden box, with deerskin ties. These scrolls were owned in the early 20th century by a Francophone who has made a series of transliterations and brief explanations of each painting in a neat hand.

❧ See also Totman’s “Forestry in Early Modern Japan, 1650-1850: A Preliminary Survey” in Agricultural History, Vol. 56, No. 2 (April 1982), pp. 115-25, and his The Green Archipelago. Forestry in Pre-Industrial Japan (1998).

Price: $42,500.00

Item ID: 9908