As a kick-off event for KAKEN’s “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,” which started from this year, there were presentations and discussions from members of the project.
Below is a report by the participants. In addition, some changes have been made at the time of posting.
Professor Kanazawa’s presentation dealt with the chapter on Empress Jingū in the Nihon shoki and, using the production of texts based on the Empress Jingū chapter (setsuwa) such as the Hachiman gudōkun as its starting point, sought to explore descriptions of the Nihon shoki within those texts. First, it was pointed out that the Empress Jingū chapter was a record with connections to the Wajin den and the Qijuzhu, and therefore they can be regarded as rerences points for the dates of the chapter in the Shoki. Then, he argued that the Empress Jingū chapter functioned as a path that connected the history recorded in the Nihon shoki with a moment in world history. Setsuwa about Empress Jingū, including literature besides the Shoki, are told in various forms, but the person who enacted those feats are said to not be Empress Jingū herself, but her son Emperor Ōjin. For example, in a passage dated from the twelfth month of the sixth year in the Nihon shoki’s Keitei chapter, it says “Sumiyoshi no ōkami first conferred the gold and silver countries across the sea, including Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla, and Imna, on Homuta no Sumeramikoto [Emperor Ōjin] while he was in the womb.” In regard to this point, it was stated during the discussion after the presentation that, while up until the Heian period there was a tendency to imagine Empress Jingū’s achievements as her own, after that they became accepted as those belonging to Ōjin, and as seen in the Hachiman gudōkun, they are even connected to the figure of Hachiman.
Professor Tokumori’s presentation focused on the development of commentaries on the Nihon shoki up until the medieval period. First, he presented the opinion that kun glossings using native Japanese words dispensed throughout the Nihon shoki are based on context, and that the Shoki’s entire narrative points to it as being a translation of a native Japanese narrative into kanbun. Next, regarding Heian period interpretations of the Shoki, he showed that unlike Motoori Norinaga they did not obsess over kanji expressions and aim to return to an “ancient language,” but pursued reading it with kun glosses while respecting that the Shoki as a text written in kanji. Lastly, he touched on the fact that, regarding Ichijō Kaneyoshi’s Nihon shoki sanso, its annotations and understanding of the Nihon shoki did not inquire about kun glossings, and stated that this was something that “changed the function of kun glosses.” Regarding this part, during the discussion following the presentation, there was a supplementary explanation that, in contrast to the Heian period interpretations that aimed to provide a consistent explanation of the Nihon shoki through the native glossing of Sinitic language, the Sanso and Yoshida Kanetomo’s Nihon shoki jindai no maki shō construct a space for interpretation in the Japanese language, and as a result connected the text to a world that expands beyond the world of kanji.
I was particularly interested in issues of “narratives in Japanese” with regard to “Japanese language in commentaries on the Nihon shoki.” Considering the problem of the old Japanese language, there are two languages consisting of written and phonetic language, and in Japanese language studies that sentences in the Japanese language such as wabun and kanabun were pointed out to be the latter, close to everyday conversational language during that time period.
In Japan during the Nara period, when the Nihon shoki was created, was it possible to “narrate using the native language?” (How much was it possible, if at all?) The problem is complicated and difficult to understand and has also been considered in a variety of ways including from the perspective of literary style and literary history, which is bigger than “language.”
However, it also seems that the writing of native Japanese words without the mediation of “(orthodox) kanbun” could take place only in poetic expressions such as those in the Man’yōshū. Reaching the point where native Japanese language that was naturally supposed to be used in spoken language directly took the form of written language and to a certain extent was described using a fixed amount had to wait for the establishment of wabun and kanabun in the Heian period.
When thinking about such a thing, Komatsu Hideo’s point that, “The important thing is not kanabun’s development by means of the creation of kana, but that kana was developed in order to compose kanabun,” (Nihongo shoki shi genron – hoteiban, Chapter 1, “Kanabun no hattatsu”) is quite suggestive. Although at this time I do not happen to have the material on hand to judge the validity of this point, after thinking about the relationship between “writing” (the act of writing) and “what is written” (the original text), this is a viewpoint we ought to keep in mind.
In addition, in the discussion after the presentation, it was argued that fluid “oral traditions” (which do not have a fixed text), became fixed through the act of writing, starting from statements such as “in this text…” Such an argument concurs with Watanabe Minoru’s point that “sentences should construct a closed linguistic world as written language. When converting into written language content given in the form of oral language, isn’t it a fact that it would also produce evident differences in making a closed linguistic world due to the difference in how to grasp the content of the sentences?” (Heian chō buntai shi), and I think these overlaps with questions about what is created (or destroyed) when things that have only been told through forms of sound and orality are fixed in (and converted to) text.
(Kawano Tomoya, MA Student, Hokkaidō University)
Professor Tamura’s presentation took as its subject masterpieces written in kana from the Heian period such as Genji monogatari, Utsuho monogatari, Makura no sōshi, and Eiga monogatari, and examined things such as the appearance of mana in manuscripts, contexts of manuscripts, and authors’ perception toward mana. First, he introduced what is possibly the oldest copy of Genji monogatari written in Fujiwara no Teika’s own hand (material published in Kyoto shinbun), and pointed out that the tendency for the number of kanji characters in manuscripts increased as time passes is based on the Ōshima-bon and the Tōdai-bon versions. Next, Makura no sōshi was taken up as an example of mana writing, and it was shown that a kanshi verse from The Collected Works of Bai Juyi which is quoted as is in the Sankan-bon version, and in the Nōin-bon version is quoted with kakikudashi. Also, regarding the context surrounding the Sankan-bon and Nōin-bon versions, he mentioned that it is difficult to think of the Nōin-bon using kanji expressions similar to the Sankan-bon, and that because the oboezu poem in the Sankan-bon version was added to the Nōin-bon version, the Nōin-bon was created after the Sankan-bon. Finally, Professor Tamura introduced Genji monogatari and Murasaki Shikibu nikki as examples of how mana was treated and used in in kana texts. In Genji monogatari, it borrows the characters’ speech and expresses sarcasm toward Akashi’s taking monastic orders in the realm of kanji. Moreover, he stated that Murasaki’s attitude where she ridicules the realm of kanji can be seen from the expression, “having scribbled kanji characters” in Murasaki Shikibu nikki.
Professor Baba’s presentation asked the question of what a “song” is in the Nihon shoki, a text that was intended to be written in kanbun as a whole. In both the Nihon shoki and the Kojiki, “songs by kanji pronunciation are written with one kanji character corresponding to one sound.” However, the relationship between verse and prose and the usage of kanji in verses differs between the Nihon shoki written in kanbun and the Kojiki that was written in a form assumed to be the native language. Professor Baba clarified the relationship between each song and prose and how the usage of kanji differed using the example of “asajihara” which is recorded with roughly the same lyrics, and questioned the points made by already existing research. Specifically, she pointed out that the contradictory relationship between verse and prose in the Kojiki that was once pointed out by Motoori Norinaga is not a contradiction, and the songs of the Kojiki have an antagonistic relationship with the prose as they draw emotions from the prose’s narratives. In addition, she further developed an earlier point that the selection of kanji used for songs differs between the Nihon shoki and Kojiki, and pointed out that the problem of sound notation tends to be addressed in the former as an issue that is outside the system of inscribing in Japanese, and in the latter as an issue with Japanese inscription.
Professor Tamura and Baba’s presentations focused on “aspects that did not appear as the subject and could not be taken up” in “texts that consisted of certain types of characters,” and inquired into what kind of meaning those aspects held. In that sense, the second session was certainly an attempt to explore meaning in the realm of characters’ remote areas without fixating it to anything. Since I am an outsider to this field and have not studied it sufficiently, there were many places where I couldn’t precisely follow the prepared material, but both presentations made us think about the fundamental question of whether it is possible to give a singular answer with regard to texts from the past we are looking at now, the time periods in which they were written, their authors, and contexts. Moreover, the question of what “writing” is has not left my mind.
For example, the monogatari presented by Professor Tamura are written mainly in kana. What is the mana that is captured within them? This is a question that cannot be easily answered unless knowledge about manuscripts is presumed, as monogatari possess many lineages of manuscripts. A hint presented by Professor Tamura during this presentation was the point that the number of kanji incorporated will increase with the passage of time. And, depending on a monogatari’s characteristics, for example in Genji monogatari which avoids Sinitic poetry and prose, the inscription of kanji in kana text is rare, and in the historical Eiga monogatari, because there are many real-life instances where characters were have said to read kanbun within the work, there are many spots where they are quoted verbatim, there can be an increase in mana depending on the nature of the monogatari. However, within the genre of monogatari, an important point was also that it is difficult to determine the point in time when mana increased in texts, since it is difficult to suppose what the source text was originally. On the contrary, the point about the increase of kanji in the original texts themselves and, moreover, that there was also work done to transliterate classical Chinese into Japanese, was very interesting. The example of Kyushu University’s Utsuho monogatari emaki shown in connection with this is interesting and, based on the assumption that the use of kanji had increased, the point that once again works was done to “open up” kana writing allowed for imagining what can be called a “categorical awareness” of monogatari. I also thought that the act of making a monogatari scroll itself reflects a categorical awareness of the author rather than simply conveying something through writing or simply considering issues about the function of things such as the reader’s visibility.
In addition, Professor Baba’s presentation also approached the differences in the choice of characters and how they were perceived according to aims in the act of “writing.” At present, it has become common knowledge that a difference between the Nihon shoki and the Kojiki, for example, is that while the former tried to establish a “correct” history and was written in the style of [Sinitic] annal-biographies, the Kojiki is filled with various tales aimed at a domestic audience. However, if we look at the texts as materials to begin with, both are written in kanji with no punctuation marks or kaeriten. Professor Baba’s sense of the issues stems from this, and she presented the question of why the same or similar songs with the same writing produce different perspectives. In particular, her point that the relationship between prose and verse in the Kojiki is not contradictory, but rather those areas co-exist as rivals that shoulder one another was very interesting. Furthermore, precisely because the prose that depicts the sovereign as ringing a duo bell every day and calling for Okime coexists with the song where his “virtue and kindness as the emperor” is emotionalized with the sound of the bell in the Kojiki, doesn’t it have consistency as a literary text? On the other hand, as pointed out by Professor Baba, if “prose anticipates the contents of verse and presents an interpretation of it,” in the Nihon shoki, then the question arises as to what the reason is for purposely inserting songs in the Nihon shoki. This problem was also pointed out by Professor Baba in the end when she said, “a different approach is needed from understanding the songs in the Nihon shoki as simply phonetic loans subsumed under the rules of kanbun.”
(Heo Jihyang, Visiting Researcher, Ritsumeikan University)
Professor Michisaka’s presentation considers characteristics in styles of expression from seventh to eighth century Chinese intellectuals based on the influence stone memorial tablets transmitted in Shōsōin as lost writings had on the remarks of future generations of stone tablets. I would like to give a summary of that presentation below.
The words on the grave marker of Wang Bo (650 – 676) left behind at Shōsōin, “Epitaph of the late wife of Master Wei, a private citizen of Hedong of the Tang, of the Heba Clan,” (it is presumed this was created when Wang Bo was assigned to the Shu province between 669 and 671) closely resemble the words, “Epitaph of the late wife of Bo Shangde, the governor of Zhou, of the Wu Clan.” (701) Initially, the influential relationship was pointed out, but because 1. the expressions are very similar and 2. the inscription rubbings are very clear, Michisaka critiques the historical record of the latter epitaph. The forgery of the inscription rubbing seems to have been active since its value was recognized in the early days of the Republic of China.
The Bo Shangde epitaph was excavated in 1931. It seems that the collector Zhang Fang started collecting Tang period epitaphs in 1931, and since this epitaph was bought in his early days of collecting, it is hard to think of it as a forgery. In addition, besides the use of zetian characters identified with the correct time period, the number of inscriptions left behind along with the stones are not a lot. (If they were forged and sold, you would expect there to be a lot of inscriptions.) Furthermore, Tang epitaphs are heavier and less popular compared to those from the Northern Wei, and it is unlikely that they were forged even by carving stones at that time. Considering the above, this epitaph is not a forgery, but one that was heavily influenced bu the Wang Bo epitaph at that time.
In addition to Wang Bo, there is the “County Master Guiren” epitaph. County Master Guiren was the grandchild of Li Yuan [Emperor Gaozu]. As his father was killed by Li Shimin [Emperor Taizong], this epitaph is the only historical vestige remaining. There are several epitaphs that use similar couplets to this one, suggesting that Wang Bo’s poetry was popular during the same time period.
As an epitaph from the same time period as Wang Bo, the one for Yang Jiong (? – 692) is famous. There are two epitaphs remaining for Yang Jiong’s wife, saying that she served her husband well, and there is also a part that expresses the sorrow of her husband left behind. On the other hand, the epitaph of Yu Xin (513 – 581) describes the house to which his wife belonged and expresses condolences as the author of the inscription.
In contrast with these, the Wang Bo epitaph portrays the gentlewoman as both wife and mother and speaks for the sorrow of the epitaph’s requester. It has the particular feature of expressing the sadness of those who are left behind. Based on these facts, Michisaka posed the question of why Wang Bo’s poetry was popular in the same time period. As for the shape of its influence, he said there are two patterns to be considered: 1. Because he was a popular writer (due to favorable methods of expression, etc.), was he imitated this much, and 2. Precisely because his work was imitated, was his work received well by others? From the end of the Six Dynasties to the beginning of the Tang period, Yu Xin was a popular author, but why was Wang Bo in vogue?
To begin with, he said that pianwen 駢文 becomes a form separate from literary talent and novelty if certain forms are followed and references are accurately collected. It even existed as a collection of exemplary model sentences for writing. In this, it is possible to imagine a salon of junior intellectuals.
The structure of society greatly changed from the Six Dynasties to the beginning of the Tang Dynasty. Along with that, a class of newly making epitaphs first appeared in the Tang dynasty, and they sought new types of literary expression. That is to say, as in the case of Han Yu, more than the “household,” representations of husbands, wives, and children were stressed, along with changes in the values of the new intellectuals. This was also linked to the formation of the intellectuals’ existence, and the literati in Six Dynasties China depended on compensation from things such as epitaphs for their livelihood. Therefore, if they could not respond to the requests of an aristocrat who held the privilege of creating epitaphs at the time, they would be subordinate without the next request. However, with the rise of a new wealthy class, they also requested epitaphs. Even junior intellectuals, though they had no ingenuity, they could write a line for the time being and respond to it. The source of Wang Bo and his poetry’s popularity can be seen from this.
In this way, Michisaka talked about the changes in literary style from Six Dynasties China to the early Tang period in conjunction with the social structure and formation of knowledge. He thought that history and literature of course cannot be considered separate from each other, and there was a lot to learn from the research of research in regard to the birthplace of the ritsuryō state with topics such as “place” in literature as it relates to bureaucrats’ assignments to the provinces and the relationship between distinguished intellectuals and the existence of a public.
In addition, Michisaka pointed out that when Wang Bo’s works were received in Japan, its reception somewhat deviated from the feeling described thus far. It is often the case that when Tang cultural products and systems were introduced to Japan, they were not necessarily accepted as they were originally, but even in that respect, the knowledge from today could be applied to other fields of research.
After confirming the historical transition surrounding the question of what an “ancient style poem” is, Professor Saitō considered items such as using imitative styles while composing shi poems and exactly what kind of action was writing poems conveying the feelings of the ancients. He attempted to elucidate the extent to which there was standardization and what kind of theory of literary creation was in the concept of “ancient.” The following is an overview of that presentation.
“Ancient style poetry” was generally established in Luoyang during the Latter Han period, but Saitō’s main point was not about how it came into being, but how it came together. First, among poetry collections, the Wen Xuan and Yutai Xinyong were framed as “ancient style poetry.” In terms of this change in meaning, definitions were used such as “ancient poems from before the Han,” from the “Treatise on Literature” in the Wen Xuan, “no one knows who made them, but they are words passed down from past,” from the Liezi, “normative and didactive verse,” from the Book of Rites, and “five-character poems from the Han period,” from the Shishuo Xinyu. And, in this definition of “five-character poems” and that before it, there is an opening. We are able to ask from when it was that five-character poems began to be called “ancient-style poetry,” (and became the object of “imitating the classical style”).
The act of “imitating the classics,” is the act of creating an imitation of a model poem as if the protagonist was from ancient times. This activity originated as “poetic topics” in the third century around the same time as the meaning changed for “ancient poems.” The “classics-imitating poetry” of Lu Ji (261-303) also likely became a genre later on. It is also related to methods such as “learning from Ruan Ji of the Wei.” The term, “feelings of the ancients” appears in the fifth century. While it is not the case that individual imitations disappeared, when composing poetry pursued as literature of the Six Dynasties salons, one type of poem was “feelings of the ancients.” The “feelings of the ancients” style is inspired by artistic intent (will) and writing style (body). “Feelings of the ancients” differs from “imitating the ancients” in that it transforms present reality into antiquity and turns it into the unreal. This fulfilled the demand for narratives that could not be expressed in the existing “imitating the ancients” style, such as new types of social relationships, remote areas far from the capital, and autobiographical expression.
In order for the above forms of expression to hold, the meaning of “ancient” must be commonly recognized. Rather, we should pay attention to change in the perception of “ancient.” In this case, then, how was “ancient” recognized in Six Dynasties poetry? Unlike modert texts, “ancient-style poetry” was rhetorically connected with folk songs. When the Jin Dynasty was revived, figures of speech developed, and subject matter diversified. In wondering how we should perceive this so far, the emergence of a consciousness toward “contemporary” and “ancient” also encouraged the generation of “ancient” as “will” (motif) and “body” (style). It was beyond “here and now,” and the roots of the fundamental and universal world ensured the premise of using the “written thing’s” externality. Even if modern-style poetry developed in the Six Dynasties, ancient-style poetry would have continued to be made. The discovery that there is a world that cannot be accessed in modern poetry was a rediscovery and reorientation of “antiquity.” Poem exchanges were also a very important genre in that the characters imitated those found in “ancient poetry.” Contrary to the development of the rhetorical world and techniques, in the external realm of “antiquity,” antiquity is configured as drawing from a variety of literary places.
Professor Saitō’s presentation was as above. Without differentiation, it is difficult for to position certain concepts. “Antiquity,” which has been positioned as reflective of modernity, is simultaneously external yet always connected to the present and the external as a universal reference point. For example, while Japanese waka poetry is considered to have acquired a diachronic perspective in the latter part of the Heian period, much could be learned from this presentation in regard to the structures that caused such a change in cognition.
(Yumiyama Shintarō, MA student, Kyoto University)
(Editor: Tobita Hidenobu, PhD Student, University of Tokyo)