MEIJI PERIOD JAPANESE MAPS OF ANCIENT CHINA
Jyuhasshi ryaku ... go taizen [Complete and Abridged ... Eighteen Histories.] Osaka: Meiji 15 . 8° (175 x 122mm). Xylographically printed on double leaves folded in the oriental manner. Title printed on pink paper, text on 16 unnumbered double leaves, 11 double-page hand-coloured maps of China (only, of 12) on numbered double leaves 1-10 & 12, 1 unnumbered text double leaf at end. (Small marginal dampstain to top corner.) Original yellow paper-covered boards with printed paper title slip (upper cover dampstained and coming away from front pastedown, extremities lightly rubbed).
FIRST EDITION THUS, this atlas and history of ancient China was published in the long tradition of the Abridged Eighteen Histories, a popular work of history first used in China during the Song dynasty (960-1279). By the 16th century, the Eighteen Histories had disappeared from China, but were enthusiastically adopted by Japan. During the Song, most authors accepted that there were seventeen standard histories and the Tzu-chih t'ung-chien, 'Comprehensive Mirror for the Aid of Government', by Ssu-ma Kuang (1019-1086). These were then compiled under the Chinese title Shi Ba Shi Lue, evolving during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) to become a concise general history. By the time of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), it was widely disseminated in many variant editions. At this time, the Eighteen Histories spread to Japan, and was widely distributed and read. By the time of the Meiji Restoration, the history started to reflect contemporary Japanese concerns, absorbing a Japanese world view coupled with western influences. They were immensely popular, and had a profound impact on Japanese society and culture.
Despite their incessant publication, there are few copies extant, particularly in the west. The present example, published prior to the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), is a most uncommon item describing the geography and society of the Chu dynasty (907-951) and the Song. The beautifully stylized maps illustrate dynastic borders and the diverse topography of China, delineated with vibrant colours. The text gives the names of emperors and cities as well as statistical information about populations. Worldcat reports a number of Meiji period Jyuhasshi ryaku, but none for 1882.