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Featured Texts 1: Books for beginners

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Let’s once more sort through the types of study followed by Zen monks, focusing on Chinese books as well as the writings that these monks produced. We will look at some specific examples, mostly using materials owned by the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics. Let us start with entry-level books. Representative works include the Santaishi, the Guwen zhenbao, and the Jinxiuduan These were basic required texts for learning to read Chinese books and for composing Chinese-language poetry, and they had been made for this purpose in China to begin with.
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Training followed a two-step method: first, students memorized the entire text and only at this point did they read the annotations to understand the content. As reading materials, they made use of printed books from China, Gozan printed editions, as well as handmade copies of either type. We start with the Santaishi(1) which is a collection of Tang poetry and one of the most popular Chinese books of the medieval period. As you can see, the text is comprised of both poems and annotations, although the handwritten version only has the poems. (2) The contents of this work will be discussed in detail in the next activity.
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The Guwen zhenbao consists of two parts: poems and prose pieces. Since the prose section was more widely read in Japan, there are many more extant copies of the second part. Once again, this work is comprised of both text and comments. This(3) is the printed books from China and this(4) is the Gozan printed editions. Poems are written in large and annotations are written in small between lines. Next is the Lianzhu shige(5). Like the Santaishi, it is a poetry collection, but it includes about 330 poems by both Tang and Song poets. Here is the Jinxuiduan(6). It is a poetry collection from the middle of the 15th century compiled by the Japanese Zen monk Ten’in Ryūtaku.
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It groups by content poems from the Tang through Ming periods. During the medieval period, it enjoyed wide circulation in manuscript form.
From this step onwards, we will once more sort through the types of books studied by Zen monks, focusing on Chinese books as well as the writings that these monks themselves produced. In this step, Prof. Horikawa presents some popular books for beginners from the collection of the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics.

Keio’s books introduced in the video

  1. Santaishi (Poetry in the Three Styles), Reissue of Gozan-ban edition (early 17th c.)
    Click to see the image and information
  2. Santaishi (Poetry in the Three Styles), No annotation, Manuscript copy of Gozan-ban edition (1529)
    Click to see the image and information
  3. Guwen zhenbao, second part (J. Kobun shinpō, True Treasures of Ancient Writing) , Ming-period printed book (14th-15th c.)
    Click to see the image and information
  4. Guwen zhenbao, second part (J. Kobun shinpō, True Treasures of Ancient Writing), Gozan-ban ediction (14th-15th c.)
    Click to see the image and information
  5. Lianzhu shige (Strings of Pearls: Selected Poems by Grade), Manuscript copy of Gozan-ban edition (early 17th c.)
    Click to see the image and information
  6. Jinxiuduan (J. Kinshūdan; Collection of Brocade Pieces), late-16th c. manuscript
    Click to see the image and information

Keywords introduced in the video

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Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

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