The contribution of foreign craftsmen
Click to take a closer look Fig. 2. Woodblocks of Hizō hōyaku, Kūkai, Kōyasan Reihōkan Museum (From the “Kūkai karano okurimono” exhibition catalog)
Click to take a closer look Even Mount Hiei (the center of Tendai Buddhism), which for long had not become involved in printing preferring to enjoy its status as the main center of Buddhist manuscript culture, between 1279 and 1296, under the guidance of abbot Shōsen, embarked on a large-scale printing of the works of the sect’s founder Zhiyi (the so-called ‘Three Great Works of the Lotus’), namely, the Great Concentration and Insight (Ch. Mohe Zhiguan), the Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra (Ch. Fahua Xuanyi), the Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra (ch. Fahua Wenzhu), as well as six commentaries in 150 scrolls (fig.3 shows one of those). Fig. 3. Shikanbugyodenguketsu, Eizan Edition
Click to take a closer look The texts that were used to prepare the printing blocks bear the names of 28 “carvers.” One of them, by the name of “Lu Silang [J. Go Jirō] of the Great Song,” seems to have been from China. In 1276 (Deyou 2), the Mongol army captured the Southern Song capital city Linan (modern Hangzhou), thus initiating the demise of the Song dynasty. It is quite possible that this Mr. Lu fled to Japan to escape the unrest. Also of foreign origin was “the lay priest Wu Sanlang [J. Go Saburō] of Qiantang in Song,” whose name appears in a copy of the Kobun Kōkyō (Old-Text Classic of Filial Piety) dating from 1297 (En’nin 5). The Wu were a family of scholars from the Kyoto area and were active as copiers of Chinese texts. In this manner, medieval Japanese texts in Chinese often mention the names of immigrant artisans.
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Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books
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Increasing variety of printed booksAs you can see above, by the Kamakura period the temples of the Nara-Kinai area were putting out printed books at a steady pace.Although all publishing activity at this stage focused on Buddhist content, there was a transition from texts printed for ritual and symbolic purposes to texts meant to be read and studied, such as textbooks and the works of the great patriarchs. The marks and annotations that many of the books still in existence bear provide ample evidence of this.In the medieval period, the core canonical texts were printed either in scroll (fig.5, the traditionally more prestigious format) or in accordion (fig.6, orihon) format. Fig. 5. Kansusō（巻子装）, Scroll Fig. 6. Orihon （折本）,AccordionHowever, commentaries and other secondary works were printed in codex format, which would later become predominant. The codex format in its many variants was initially used only for appendixes to key works or to record the notes of a lecture or liturgy, but gradually, because of its functionality and portability, it became the dominant format.Early-medieval printed books show us the early stage of this process. Most of them are in the so-called detchōsō (fig.7, “oriental style”) binding, in which the leaves are folded, stacked on each other, and then glued together near the crease on the outer side. Fig. 7. Detchōsō （粘葉装）, Oriental styleSince both sides of the page were printed, arranging the text to be printed was an extremely laborious process. By printing on both sides, the makers of these books were probably attempting to replicate the look and feel of handwritten books, which had writing on both sides. Generally speaking, it is fair to say that during the Heian and Kamakura periods printed books were reproductions of handwritten books. It was only with the activity of the Zen presses at the end of the Kamamura period (14th c.) that printed books really became a self-standing category.If your are interested in learning more about book bindings, papers and colorful illustrated Japanese books, please join our another free online course Japanese Culture Through Rare Books on FutureLearn!
Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books
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