NANKI JOSUIKEN Gei Shi (= Description de baleines / Description of whales).


Magnificent Japanese monograph dedicated to whales
A very rare monograph in Chinese about whales illustrated with 14 superb woodcuts of cetaceans. Osaka, Kansei 6 (1794).

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NANKI JOSUIKEN (signed Kajitoriya Ziemon Josuiken). Gei Shi (= Description of whales). Osaka, Kawachiya Kibei, Kansei 6 (1794).

4to [262 x 174 mm] of (73) pp. Text in xylography in Chinese on rice paper. A few restored worm-punctures without loss of text. Preserved in its original blue wrappers sewed in the eastern manner, lettering-piece on the front cover. Two Chinese characters have been beautifully written in red ink on the front cover. A few discreet wormholes on covers. Protective case in blue cloth. Contemporary binding.

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Extremely rare second and last edition of this monograph dedicated to whales. Ref.: Kerlen, Catalogue of pre-Meiji Japanese books and maps in public collections in the Netherlands, Amsterdam 1996, n°441.

The first edition was published in 1759, but it is today unobtainable.

This monograph describes the 14 species of whales that one could find in Japan in the 18th century, that is to say: Sebi-Kujira, a variation of Sebi-Kujira, Nagasu Kujira (the blue whale), Zato-Kujira (the humpbacked whale), Naisagoto, Shihogoto, Ohona Shihogoto, Sakamata (the swordfish), Asobi Kujira, Katsuo-Kujira, Noso-Kujira (common rorqual), Matsuko-Kujira, Ko-Kujira (the gray whale) and Iwashi-Kujira (rorqual). The author tackles their different shapes as well as their medical uses.

The present work is illustrated with 14 superb wood-engraved representations of whales, including 1 on sixfold page, 6 on triple-page and 7 on double-page. The artist did not sign these magnificent woodcuts.

The text coming with the illustrations is in classical Chinese, the language of scholars. However, Japanese marks come with the Chinese text in order to make easier the reading in the Japanese manner. The Chinese characters have been printed with great elegance.

A beautiful copy of this fine work about whales abundantly illustrated, preserved in its original Japanese wrappers.

Our searches only allowed us to locate 4 copies of this edition among all the Public Institutions: NYPL, University of The Hague in Netherlands, Library of Berlin, and Bibliothèque interuniversitaire des langues Orientales de Paris.

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