[Japan: 17th or 18th century].
In the seventh and eighth centuries, when trade flourished with the rest of Asia, especially Korea and China, Japanese nobility melded foreign dance and music traditions with native Shinto songs. This amalgam was eventually incorporated into official court functions and became so important that it even merited the establishment of a ministry of dance in 701. Trained court nobles and professionals were the only ones permitted to execute these complex choreographies. Bugaku (now known as gagaku) was a type of dance performed at the imperial court during the Edo period.
At the beginning of the scroll, which takes place in the emperor’s palace, one sees large drums, called dadaiko, framed by flames and dragons. On top of one of the larger drums there is a motif of the sun. These drums are accompanied by musicians playing a mouth organ (sho), a bamboo flute (ryuteki), and smaller drums in the gakuya (the musicians’ section). They sit under an elaborately decorated banner and provide a steady rhythm for the dancers on stage before them. The elevated stage (takabutai), where two dancers are performing enbu, is adorned with a highly ornate brocade drape.
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[Japan: 17th or 18th century].
Ink, brush, & color wash in various colors, gold speckles on edges and endpapers, silk brocade endpapers. Japan: early 19th-century.
The equestrian sport of polo, or in Japanese dakyu, is believed to have originated in Central Asia and then spread both to Europe and became “polo,” as well as to China and subsequently Japan through the Korean peninsula in the 8th or 9th centuries. In the Nara and Heian periods, the court at the Imperial Palace played dakyu, most notably on the Boys’ Day Festival (tango) of 5 May.
While dakyu’s popularity declined during the Kamakura period, it experienced a resurgence under the reign of Yoshimune Tokugawa (1684-1751), who adopted the game as a form of exercise for cavalry warfare. At this time, it evolved into a recreation closer to lacrosse in which they scooped rather than struck the ball with a gittcho (polo cane). This scroll vividly depicts the Yamagata or Imperial style of play, employing shorter canes and smaller balls, and with both teams shooting at a single goal.
Japan: ca. 1912-80.
A large and impressive ensemble of Japanese photographic postcards depicting kabuki actors. Photographic postcards effectively replaced ukiyo-e woodblock prints which were enormously popular through 1900. This collection documents the rise and fall of great actors, the evolution of costume styles, the various sets and decorations employed on stage, as well as the proliferation of photographic postcards as mementos and collectible memorabilia. Offered with this collection is a series of vernacular photographic prints of actors, many from the early 20th century.
Japan’s postal system was established in 1870 as part of many Meiji era reforms to modernize the country...
Engraved frontis. & 59 finely engraved plates (four are folding). xxiv, 271,  pp. 8vo, cont. polished calf (very well rebacked to match, a few signatures slightly browned), double gilt fillet round sides, spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Paris: J. Villette, 1725.
First edition of “the most authoritative exposition of the early 18th-century French style of dancing, a style which was performed throughout Europe because of its elegance and refinement. The book was read and approved by Louis Pécour, dancing-master for the Paris Opéra, and may thus be taken to represent the central French practice of its day. It gives a clear...