Home>Events / Reports>Workshop on Bibliographical Studies at the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics (session 3)
Special Lecture

Method of East Asian Classical Studies, 55th Seminar
Workshop on Bibliographical Studies at the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics (session 3)

June 22nd (Saturday) and 23rd (Sunday), 2019
Keio Institute of Oriental Classics, Keio University
SASAKI Takahiro

Basic Information


Dr. Sasaki Takahiro will conduct a lecture and hosting a practical workshop on bibliographical studies at the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics. Participants will consist of graduate students from Kyoto University, Tokyo University, and Hokkaido University working in the area of premodern Japanese literature. This is the second of a series of such workshops planned for the future. All participants have been selected beforehand; attendance is not open to the public.


Development of the Next Generation of East Asian Classical Studies through International Collaboration: From the Perspective of the Frontier of the Realm of Chinese Characters
Keio Institute of Oriental Classics


 The third annual workshop on bibliographical studies was hosted at the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics. As with the previous two workshops, with the cooperation of Professor Sasaki Takahiro there was a showcase of materials from the Institute along with lectures on the basics in bibliographical studies.
 The following is in part a report written by the workshop participants. In addition, a few revisions have been made at the time of posting.
Arthur Defrance (Visiting Research Student, University of Tokyo/Research Student, École pratique des hautes études)
 If we think about it through the eyes of the bibliographic scholar, it becomes clear how historical the classics are. We can understand how extant classics were transmitted after many twists and turns, and at the same time understand why there are numerous classics that did not survive. This means the possibility exists that works once positioned as immutably canon were lost. As an aside, as someone who has come from the Western classics, I have heard stories from professors time and time again about works that had been in danger of becoming lost. The burning of the Great Library of Alexandria is obviously the most representative episode, but there is also the story of how the only copies of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and Lucretius’s The Nature of Things would have been lost if Poggio Bracciolini had not discovered them in a German Monastery in the fifteenth century. However, these are persistently described as unusual events, and the many works that make up the canon possess an eternal, steadfast aura. (In a sense, we can say that the treatment of the above incidents as unusual has the effect of emphasizing the firm position of the canon.) Several years later, when I read Henri Bardon’s La littérature latine inconnue, I came to understand how fragmentary the literature now being transmitted is.
 In contrast, one of the concerns of bibliographical studies naturally lies in inquiries into the transmission of the classics. As a result, the gap between the age when the work was created and the present is filled to some extent. In addition, various forms of preserving the classics can be seen. For example, in the early modern libraries along with the continued existence of collections from the imperial court (the imperial palace collections of Emperor Goyozei and Go-Mizunoo) and the nobility (the Reizei and Yanagiwara Houses) are also from bakufu (the Momojiyama Collection) and daimyo (Maeda family) collections of the classics, but bibliographic studies focuses on the connection between those collections and modern libraries and archives (such as the Imperial Household Library, the Cabinet Library, and the Sonkeikaku Collection), allowing us to trace the routes of various transmissions. Through this work, we understand what kind of process was involved in transmitting texts that are now considered as “literary works,” and can possibly comprehend the classics and their transmission are inseparably linked. 
 Next, by looking at works with the gaze of a bibliographic scholar, we will be able to grasp the nature of those objects. In the present day, it is almost impossible to separate from books when thinking about “texts,” but before the modern period, especially when manuscripts were mainstream, seeing books as meaningless, neutral mediators was rare. It may seem that this can be explained to some extent by the emphasis on calligraphy in manuscripts (and woodblock prints that replaced manuscripts), but in fact, we can confirm that the characteristics that prescribe a book’s identity as a book are various aspects of a book. A typical example is the use of different bindings, Prior to the modern period, bindings showed great variety (scrolls, orihon, detchōsō, tetsuyōsō, fukurotoji), and a book’s position and its identity as a book were determined based on what kind of binding is attached to it. For example, scrolls and orihon were regarded as authoritative forms, so authoritative genres (in particular Buddhist scriptures, Chinese texts, and later waka) were often made using these two types of bindings.
 The question for me is why in the West the physical characteristics of texts are almost completely excluded from the scope of literature. Ernst Robert Curtius, who wrote a famous treatise on “books” as a metaphor in Western culture, traces the evolution of their image, acknowledged the existence of books before the Bible, and insisted that the Bible was repositioned as an important metaphor for thinking about the world. In response, we could expect books as objects to be considered as objects of inquiry, but strangely that image developed differently. As Roger Chartier points out, the perception that the main text is the soul of a book, and items such as its binding are the body has been around since the seventeenth century, and within the debates surrounding copyrights (and royalties) that were fiercely carried out in eighteenth century Germany, the idea that a work was the creator’s own, no matter how it was printed, was passed down as a justifiable image. As a result, the perception that the main text (soul) and the book as a secondary object (body) exist separately in the book became mainstream, and the awareness of writings as objects vanished. 
Gao Wei (Visiting Research Student, University of Tokyo/PhD Student, Peking University)
 The most impressive among the orihon was the Song edition of Readings of Yin Dynasty Characters.『殷字函音』 Since the character “Yin” could no longer be written due to a naming taboo, this text is thought to be from the Song Dynasty. Inside there is a black stamp that says, “Collection of Nengren Zen Temple,” and also a black stamp that says, “Daigoji.” Among wahon as an example of orihon, Komatsu Shigemi’s old copy of Genealogy of the Tale of Genji, which has a collection seal entitled “Shigemi’s secret box” was introduced, and it was a very fine book. Furthermore, in order to explain the distinction between orihon and orijō, The Thirty-Six Poetry Immortals was used as a representative example. Of course, because it was an orihon book, it could not be opened completely. This is due to gluing near the left edge that leaves pages back-to-back. Such gluing is reminiscent of detchōsō. As an example of detchōsō, the fifth volume of Jōganseiyō was circulated. The two sheets are glued together, and when opened, the two sheets look like a butterfly hence the name “butterfly book.” In Chinese classical books, there is also a binding style called the “butterfly style.” Many of the “butterfly style” texts remaining in China today are from the Song and Yuan dynasties, and the Ming and Qing governments also used this type of binding. As an example of Chinese detchōsō texts held in the Institute of Oriental Classics, we saw Volume Eighty-Eight of Zizhi Tongjian from the Yuan period and an excerpt from Volume 8904 of the Yongle Encyclopedia held by the Jiajing Emperor’s government from the Ming period. Comparing these texts, we understood the differences between Japanese and Chinese detchōsō bindings. The two binding styles are fundamentally the same, with the papers’ folds facing inward. However, because Chinese printed books generally have ban kuang, we can clearly see that the printing area of Chinese detchōsō face inward. And that characteristic can strikingly differentiate this style from the hōhaisō and sensō styles (that is, where the printing area faces outward) that appeared later in China. On the other hand, the majority of Japanese tetsuyōsō are manuscripts, and because they use ruled lines and have no ban kuang, those features are not clear. In addition to the above, we also studied the size of various binding formats, the position of titles, methods of juding revisions, and important points for recording information about texts.
 What interests me are the scroll-type bindings that remain in Japan. Since the subject of my own research are old annotated texts of the Wen Xuan, I am investigating old annotated books of the Wen Xuan bound in the scroll style and bibliographic information in relation to those books. However, there are still many things that I do not understand, such as context and knowledge. By participating in this training in bibliographic studies, I was able to deepen my understanding of the characteristics of scroll-style binding, methods for judging revisions, and technical terms. In addition, the professor’s idea that there might be a connection between the scroll binding style and the characteristics and value of the annotated content therein was very enlightening. In Japan it was thought that scroll-style books were considered to have a certain level of secrecy and authority, but of the remaining old copies of the Wen Xuan, for example Sanuge Shrine’s copy of Volume One, the Reizei family’s copy of Volume Two, the Saionji family’s copy of Volume Two within the Kankenki, and Kanchi Temple’s copy of Volume Twenty-Six, most of them are bound in the scroll-style. From this, it can be confirmed that old annotated copies of the Wen Xuan indeed had characteristics as “secret texts” from the Heian period. Knowing the relationship between scroll binding style and the texts’ contents will help to deepen the understanding of characteristics in old annotated texts of the Chinese classics such as the Wen Xuan, which utilizes this style.
Chen Youzhen (Adjunct Instructor, Kyoto University Literature Department)
 On the morning of the first day, we learned in detail about appraising the writing paper for the materials. In the Chinese classical texts I mainly deal with, except for special cases, in relation to the early establishment of commercial publishing, that type of writing paper is overwhelmingly bamboo paper, and white cotton paper tended to be frequently used for eminent texts in the Ming period. On the other hand, because textual culture centered around manuscripts lasted longer in Japan, there is a great variety of writing paper. There are differences derived from raw materials such as hemp, mulberry, gampi, and mitsumata paper, and distinctions derived from the kinds of decoration. Such differences are mentioned in primers for bibliographical studies, and although I had encountered those differences with words, this training was my first opportunity to learn about these differences by touching actual Japanese manuscripts.
During the afternoon of the first day and the morning of the second day, we were instructed on book bindings using an abundant number of examples.
  In regard to illustrated books, the phenomenon in which only the illustrations were extracted and sold often occurred even in the case of Chinese classical texts, especially in cases such as Ming editions of novels written in colloquial Chinese. In Japan’s case, there are many instances where the text put just before the image was written in an irregular hand, and it was very enlightening to be able to judge when an image had been cut out in the cases where, after such writing in an irregular hand, the text continued immediately without a picture in between. While we cannot use the same method for assessing Chinese typeset books, I would like to consider issues with assessing this illustration extraction.
 Even in the case of Chinese classics owned by my university, though the amount is small, we do see examples of wrapped-back binding or refurbished books that have remaining traces in them (i.e., the library of literature at Kyoto University’s copy of Kōbu sei’in 『洪武正韻』from the Ming period), which were mainly published in relation to the Ming government. 
 Furthermore, as for front covers, just as was mentioned in lecture using Sheng Xuanhuai’s old edition of various books published in the Ming period from the Institute of Oriental Classics, there are many cases where high quality covers were used in the old collections of government officials (including Wang Xianqian’s manuscript copy of Shakubuku from the early Song period in yellow brocade and the Ming period editions of the Chu ci in in red cloth found in Wang Yirong and Nagao Uzan’s collections from Kyoto University’s Library of Literature).
 Certainly, what can be considered as the original binding in Chinese classical texts is very limited, and the circumstances are greatly different from that of Japanese classical texts. Still, there are not a small number of cases where the binding shows the attributes of a book, and we can think of it as reflecting a hierarchy of books to a certain degree. Therefore, even in the study of Chinese classical texts, the importance of comprehensive analysis that focuses not just on the literature’s content and edition, but also on the type of paper and binding should be emphasized as it is with Japanese classical books.
 In particular, during lecture Professor Sasaki presented on a manuscript of The Tale of Genji that was traditionally considered the best version and overturned prevailing theories based on the shape of the writing and publishing information, and I was inspired by the fact that there was a lot relevant to us intellectual historians.
 My specialization is Chinese intellectual history, especially that from the early modern period. In discussing intellectual history, providing answers to issues about the authenticity of materials and the time period in which they were formed, as well as the degree of their importance to society is a very important, fundamental task. Especially in the early modern era, where primary sources are often transmitted. Even in the historical materials we handle, we do not judge their bibliographic value simply based on the content of the writing, but if we do not take into account external information such as the shape of characters, their transmission, and types of binding, I feel serious mistakes might arise.  
(Report Compilation by Tobita Hidenobu, PhD Student, University of Tokyo) 

A Note regarding the Workshop on Bibliographical Studies

 As of 2017, the program “The Creation of a Next-Generation Hub for East Asian Classical Studies: Accelerating Research and Education through International Collaboration” (led by Saitō Mareshi), has held a series of seminars dealing with the methodology and perspectives of bibliographical studies, insofar as such studies serve a foundational role in research relating to the East Asian classics. in cooperation with Keio Institute of Oriental Classics.
 This series of seminars, “Workshop on Bibliographical Studies,” is made possible through the generous cooperation of Dr. Sasaki Takahiro of Keio University. This workshop seeks to provide participants not only with those basic skills required for the field, but also with a more in-depth understanding of relevant theoretical knowledge.
 We offer two levels for this workshop, a beginner as well as an intermediate class. Participation in each session is determined beforehand. These workshops are intended primarily for doctoral students.