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Featured texts 7: Commentaries by Japanese Zen monks

Japanese Zen monk
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A third type of text that was authored by Japanese monk-scholars were annotated editions of entry-level texts and of the collected writings of famous Chinese authors. In addition to lecturing disciples and amassing information about the texts they taught, medieval Zen monk-scholars also produced their own interpretations of them. For each of the most important texts, voluminous commentaries were produced. It may be more accurate to describe these works as compendia of existing sources (ruisho) in the form of a commentary. Like the other texts we have seen so far, during the medieval period they circulated in manuscript form and only later they were published in print.
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Here I introduce three examples: First one is Santaishi zekkushō (1) A commentary on the first book of the poetry anthology Santaishi. The annotations consist mostly of quotes from other texts. It includes the full text of the poems in the Santaishi, then annotations added on top of it. Next book is Kobun shinpō kōshū-shō(2). A commentary on the Chinese anthology Guwen zhenbao houji. There are more commentaries of the Later Collection than of its predecessor, the True Treasures of Ancient Writing (see Step 3.3). The last example is Zoku okudan. It is a commentary on Du Fu’s poems. Those examples only include annotations, the poems are not included.
A third type of text that was authored by Japanese monk-scholars were annotated editions of entry-level texts and of the collected writings of famous Chinese authors. Let’s take a look at the commentaries produced by Zen monks.

Keio books introduced in the video:

  1. Santaishi zekkushō (Annotated Poems from the Santishi), 16th c. manuscript
    Click to see the image and information
  2. Kobun shinpō kōshū-shō , A commentary on the Chinese anthology Guwen zhenbao houji (Later Collection of True Treasures of Ancient Writing, circa 13th c.), 17th c. manuscript
    Click to see the image and information
  3. Zoku okudan (A Sequel to Conjectures), 15th-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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