MATERIAL: Hand-Written/Painted
TYPE: Manuscript
DIMENSIONS: 5 X 7 inches
COMPONENTS: 122 pages, 43 of which have sketches and drawings
CONDITION: Original covers, contents complete, fair shape for the age.
NOTES: Original.
REFERENCE EXTERNAL LINKS: Daoist Talismans

ITEM ID: 1279
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Unusual Religious/Military Manuscript

DATE
Year: 1871
Decade: 1870s
Century: 19th (1801-1900)
Notes: Meiji 4

Japanese manuscript album of sketches and drawings, including very early examples of Japanese military uniforms and a decapitated head.

According to scholar Avery Morrow, “What an unusual find. The first page is a collection of Daoist talismans which indicates that the guy making this was some kind of ritualist.

The next page is full of Shinto poems, and the following pages look like a kind of sketchbook. One of the pages is written in boustrophedon, which I have never seen before in Sinitic scripts.

The author’s name is given as 豊間俊. I see nothing else written by him online, but he used multiple ex libris stamps which are extant on just one single book in the archives of the National Institute of Japanese.

Regarding the one page written in boustrophedon (Boustrophedon /ˌbuːstrəˈfiːdən/ Ancient Greek: βουστροφηδόν, boustrophēdón “ox-turning” from βοῦς, bous, “ox”, στροφή, strophē, “turn” and the adverbial suffix -δόν, “like, in the manner of”; that is, turning like oxen in ploughing), it is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions. Alternate lines of writing are flipped, or reversed, with reversed letters. Rather than going left-to-right as in modern European languages, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew, alternate lines in boustrophedon must be read in opposite directions. Also, the individual characters are reversed, or mirrored. It was a common way of writing in stone in ancient Greece). The Chinese family of scripts are writing systems descended from the Chinese Oracle Bone Script and used for a variety of languages in East Asia.”