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Kocho ruien [A Library of Chinese Classics by Courtly Scholars]. By Shaoyu Jiang [in Japanese: Ko-Shogu]
78 parts plus table of contents bound in 15 vols. (full collation supplied in the Hyde catalogue). Large 8vo (286 x 215 mm.), paper wrappers, new stitching. [Japan]: Chokuban or Chokuhan [privately published by the Emperor's order], 1621. First edition and a fine set of one of the very few surviving "imperial editions" printed with movable type in Japan. This enormous publication, by far the largest of the eight surviving "chokuhan" (imperial printings) and the only surviving "gen'na chokuhan" (imperial printing during the reign of Emperor Gomizunoo) is of very great rarity. The production of this large work was a very complex and difficult project, employing the recently imported technology of movable type from Korea. The author Sahoyu Jiang (active 1360-68), compiled this collection of the writings of Chinese courtly scholars. Encouraging the preservation of Chinese traditions long valued by aristocrats, Emperor Gomizunoo continued his father's project of printing volumes of literary classics with the present work, a collection of Confucian texts which were considered both an ethical and a literary legacy of the court. Today, this edition is the earliest record of the this collection as earlier Chinese printed editions are now lost. "The earliest surviving books printed [in Korea] with movable type date from the late fourteenth century…During the invasion of the Korean peninsula undertaken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the closing years of the sixteenth century…large numbers of printed books were looted, and printing type was removed from the Printing Office and taken to Japan…It appears that Korean type was immediately put to use to printed the text of the…Kobun kokyo (Classic of Filial Piety) in 1593, although no copies of this appear to have survived. In 1597, in the postface to another work printed in Japan with movable type, a monk who was present at Hideyoshi's headquarters acknowledged that typography in Japan had come from Korea. It was not clear whether any Korean printing artisans came to Japan as well as a result of the invasion, but in any even the impact on Japan of Korean typography, both technologically and intellectually, was far greater than that of the Jesuit Mission Press, principally because the imported Korean typography was much closer to the centres of power in Japan than the increasingly precarious Jesuit missions."-Kornicki, The Book in Japan, p. 129. Emperor Go-Yozei, who nominally ruled Japan from 1586 to 1611, "displayed great enthusiasm for the new process, and not content with the original type brought back from Korea, ordered a new set of wooden type to be made. This was engraved between 1597 and 1602, and the books printed from this new type are generically known as choku-han, or 'imperial printings.' Indeed 'imperial' is a fitting description of these works, for they are among the finest unillustrated books ever produced in Japan. Not only was the typeface larger, but the best-quality paper and the finest ink were used to achieve effect. Very few choku-han works were actually printed between 1597 and 1603 [actually he means 1621], and if we exclude the 1593 edition of Kobun kokyo, almost all the titles were copies of Chinese philosophical classics…One other choku-han is known to have been printed by order of Emperor Go-Mino-o in 1621 [the successor to Emperor Go-Yozei], and that is the Horuien [the present work], although one or two other titles were printed and have been lost. All these works are considerable examples of the printer's art and show how quickly the Japanese were able to make full and aesthetic use of movable type."-Chibbett, The History of Japanese Printing and Book Illustration, p. 69. At the time of the writing of the Hyde sale catalogue, it was believed that the present work was printed with copper type; the latest research has suggested that wooden type was used but there is no definitive conclusion. Minor worming, carefully repaired. From the Rokuoin Temple in Kyoto and the library of Donald and Mary Hyde (their sale, Christie's NYC, 7 October 1988, lot 87). Preserved in two boxes.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2017-06-09           Check availability:      Biblio    


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