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Daijo kishinron giki [Commentary on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana]. By Fazang
43; 57 leaves, eight columns per page. Part I ("kan jo") in two vols. 8vo (267 x 143 mm.) in orihon (accordion) format, pale brown paper wrappers, [Nara]: 1297. Extremely rare; this is one of the earliest substantial wood-block printed books created in Japan to survive. Todaiji Temple in Nara, founded in 728, was the chief temple of the Kegon sect of Buddhism and served as a center for the training of scholar monks. Part of the monks' activities was to print educational texts and to disseminate their religion using the new technology of woodblock printing. Two monks, Shoshu (1215-91) and Gyonen (1240-1321), were the first to establish an active printing program at the temple's printing house (the todaijiban). Collectively, the printing activities at the six main temples of Nara are today called naraban (nara editions). Any publication from the 13th century issued by any of the naraban is of the greatest rarity and almost never appears in the market. The text of this work is the classic exposition of Mahayana Buddhism. There is some controversy whether the text has an Indian Sanskrit origin or is a Chinese composition. Fazang (643-712), a Chinese scholar, wrote the present commentary which is generally recognized as one of the most authoritative works for the correct understanding of the text. Mahayana Buddhism arrived in Japan in the 7th century. "Todai-ji, though not exclusively devoted to one sect of Buddhism, had a strong interest in the doctrines and practices of the Kegon sect and acted as the center of Kegon Buddhism in Japan. Thus it was natural that when Todai-ji monks began to undertake printing, they should concentrate on Kegon doctrinal works… "The earliest known work printed at Todai-ji was a one-maki edition of a Kegon sect work, the Daijo-kishin-ron, produced in 1243. Later, emphasis was placed on the works of the Chinese monk Fa-tasang [Fazang], third patriarch of the Kegon sect, and copies of his works were printed in 1283 (the Kegon-gokyo-sho), 1297 (the Daijo-kishin-ron-giki) [the present book], 1328-31 (the Kegon-gyo tangen-ki), and 1332 (the Kegon-gyo zuisho-engi-sho). The first two were printed under the supervision of a monk with strong Zen affiliations named Zen-ni (1253-1325), and the last two were under a monk named Rikaku. It is unlikely, however, that either of these monks actually participated in the carving of the blocks. Zen-ni in particular was a comparatively important Buddhist scholar, and his role in the two works that mention his names was probably more in connection with the production of an authoritative text than with the actual printing."-Chibbet, The History of Japanese Printing and Book Illustration, p. 45. "These early and unadorned Buddhist texts seem to have been little sought or discovered by collectors outside Japan. Nothing of the sort exists in the Spencer collection of the New York Public Library, or the Chester Beatty collection in Dublin; Philip Hofer, most perceptive of collectors and a hawk for opportunity, seeking treasure in Japan of the 1950s, had his focus only upon manuscript. The Hyde collection formed at the same time, was an interesting exception."-Franklin, Exploring Japanese Books and Scrolls, p. 20. In very good condition, some worming restored. Manuscript reading marks have been supplied in black ink and punctuation marks and additional reading marks supplied in red ink. From the library of Donald and Mary Hyde (their sale, Christie's NYC, 7 October 1988, lot 57). Preserved in a box.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2017-06-09           Check availability:      Biblio    


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