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Tenmon Zukai [trans.: Illustrated Explanation of Astronomy]
About 60 woodcut illus., many full-page & double-page, in the text. 32; 31; 37; 64; 54 folding leaves. Five vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers (rather rubbed with some wear), orig. block printed title label on each upper cover, new stitching. Osaka: Itamiya Mohe Kaihan, 1689. First edition of "the first astronomical book published in Japan. Although all five volumes mention the study of mathematical astronomy, the first volume has circular star maps and the second has figures of the lunar lodges. Most of the stars are shown as black circles, but those of the lunar lodges and other notable stars in the circular star map are shown as white circles, as are the determinative stars in the figures of the lunar lodges."-Miyajima, "Japanese Celestial Cartography before the Meiji Period" in History of Cartography, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 590. The present work is one of the finest illustrated science books published in Japan in the 17th century. The nine-sphere universe diagram in the first volume was reproduced from the Chinese edition of Matteo Ricci's A Profound Demonstration of the Two Spheres (1603). Volumes 2-4 are largely concerned with the reform of the Chinese lunisolar Hsuan-ming calendar, adapted in Japan in 862. It had become very inaccurate in predicting solar and lunar eclipses. In early Japan, knowledge of astronomy and the ability to predict eclipses were considered by the imperial court to be of the greatest importance and the need for calendar reform took a high priority. Iguchi (active 1689-98), was one of the first Japanese astronomers to grasp the superiority of Western astronomical concepts. A student of the prominent mathematician Kenjo Maeda, Iguchi was a collaborator of Harumi Shibukawa (1639-1715), "one of the greatest astronomers to have lived in Japan" (Miyajima, p. 588). Shibukawa was appointed to be the first astronomer of the shogunate's Bureau of Astronomy and was responsible for preparing the official civil calendar each year. Shibukawa probably made the first systematic astronomical observations in Japan (see D.S.B., XII, pp. 403-04). His proposal for calendar reform, based on these observations, was finally accepted by the Japanese government in 1684. As mentioned above, the first volume contains a series of woodcuts, including double-page, full-page, and text illustrations. Several of the woodcuts are derived from Chinese astronomy, one from Buddhist astronomy, and several others are inspired by Western astronomy. One of the most interesting is the double-page illustration of the eastern hemisphere which depicts Japan in the center, the China coast, Korea, the East Indies, New Guinea, and part of Alaska. There is also a fine woodcut of an armillary sphere with legs in the forms of dragons. The text of this volume presents the author's theory of astronomy and planetary motion which is based on Chinese, Buddhist, and European astronomy. The text describes cometary appearances based on the author's own observations. Iguchi expressed the possibility of comets reappearing some years before Halley demonstrated this. Iguchi comments that the Buddhists still insisted on erroneous ancient ideas, while the Confucians had amended their concepts to fit the modern theory of the spherical earth. The end of the fourth volume deals with the "yun qi lun" theory which is one of the theoretical foundations of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. The fifth volume is devoted to calculating the positions of planets, the moon, and stars. There are a number of geocentric woodcuts of the planets and moon, diagrams of solar and lunar eclipses, and constellations of stars. In spite of the wear, a very good and clean set. Ownership stamp of "Masuda" on covers and first and last leaves of each volume. Preserved in a box. ? Nakayama, A History of Japanese Astronomy, pp. 104-05 & 208.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2016-11-24           Check availability:      Biblio    


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