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Two finely illustrated scrolls with 35 scenes in ink and color entitled "Ezo shima kikan" or "Ezo to kikan" ("Strange sights in the island of Ezo"), by Okumaru Hata. Two scrolls, 300 x 9110 mm. & 300 x 9540 mm. [Japan: ca. 1818-43]
Large-scale colonization of Hokkaido Island ("Ezo") began in the mid-18th century. Hata (1764-1808), a Tokugawa bakufu official who served in Hokkaido from 1798-1800, wrote a self-illustrated text concerning the ethnology of the Ainu, the aboriginal inhabitants of the island. A copy of his manuscript was prepared ca. 1800 with woodblock illustrations and the only known copy was in the Hyde collection (sold Christie's NY, 7 October 1988, lot 48 for $66,000). A series of manuscript copies of Hata's original manuscript were made and circulated, each with notable variations. Our two scrolls are remarkably complete. The first scroll begins with a preface describing the long history of Japan's relations with Hokkaido (the Japanese were extremely anxious about Russia colonizing the island and were justifying their own territorial claims). Described also are the various rulers of the Matsumae fiefdom, which had been granted exclusive trading rights with the Ainu. The reason for the compilation of these texts was the official visit of the current lord Akihiro Matsumae who was making a tour of the southern part of the island which his clan controlled. Each fine brush and color illustration is prefaced with explanatory text. In the first scroll, we find a depiction of the mythological beginnings of Ezo, a tribal leader (with detailed descriptions of his clothes and language), his wife (describing her clothes and accessories), tattooed hand (how and why the Ainu do tattoos), ceremonial head wear, a necklace, a ceremonial tool, a sea otter, a group of Ainu leaders, a dance performed in front of the leaders, Ainu men and women drinking an alcoholic beverage, a native playing a long stringed instrument (with lyrics of the songs played), another drinking scene with three men clearly inebriated, a family (with extended comments on the polygamous structure of families), weapons (bows and arrows), and a scene of archery practice. The second scroll begins with a discussion of the medicinal value of the sea otter's liver. This is followed by a winter scene showing seven Ainu men preparing to launch their boats to hunt for sea otters, a government office where men are exchanging otters for rice and tobacco, an account of bear hunting with a depiction of a captured bear for the festivity of offering the bear to the gods, the sacrifice of the bear (I will not describe this but it is "special"), the scene of offering the dead bear to the gods, a banquet with Japanese visitors, Ainu houses, a religious house (exterior and interior views), religious rituals, Ainu games, "wishing a safe trip" to a group of hunters on a boat, etc. The beginning brocade endpapers of the scrolls are rather wormed but the illustrations and text are untouched. The backs of both scroll are flecked with mica.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2017-06-14           Check availability:      Biblio    

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