YU YI (fl. 1670s) -- IRIE SHU (1699-1773, editor) and YASUI HISATADA (illustrator). Tenkeiwakumon Chukai [Tianjing huowen in Chinese; Questions and Answers on Astronomy]. Edo: Suzanbo Kobayashi Shinbe kyuhan, Kan'en 3 [i.e. 1750]. 3 volumes, 8° (270 x 175mm). Text in Japanese and Chinese. 22 double-page and 15 woodblock astronomical diagrams, celestial charts, and world maps by Yasui Hisatada after Matteo Ricci and Ferdinand Verbiest, and 3 full-page diagrams complete with volvelles. (Very minor worming to two vols.) Original brown paper wrappers, printed title-slips to upper covers (extremities rubbed, tiny wormholes to two wrappers, stitching renewed), contained in a modern blue cloth chemise. Provenance: Nishikawa (ink ownership inscription in vol. II) -- Shimayama collection (red seal stamp on front pastedowns).
VERY RARE SECOND JAPANESE EDITION. 'The "Tianjing huowen" brought to Japan about 1672-79, combined ancient Chinese theories of the natural philosopher Zhu Xi (1130-1200), and the recent philosophical opinions of Fang Yizhi (1611-71) with knowledge that had been obtained from the Jesuits... Of particular importance was its illustration of the stars around the South Pole, which had not been shown on previous celestial maps; the book therefore provided the Japanese with their first knowledge of such stars' (Miyajima p.585). The original Chinese first edition of c.1672 does not seem to have survived, with the earliest extant Japanese edition of 1730 surviving in only a few copies. Irie Shu in this second edition adds supplemental information, and more importantly, argues that some of the illustrations of the first edition are erroneous and presents here corrected versions by Yasui Hisatada. The work escaped censorship and was allowed to be imported into Japan 'because of its purely astronomical nature ... During the Tokugawa period everyone with an interest in astronomy read it' (Nakayama p.101). The highly influential Jesuits, Matteo Ricci and Ferdinand Verbiest, who introduced western knowledge of cartography and astronomy to China, are specifically mentioned in the text and the maps in the present example are entirely based on their work. The terrestrial maps are of particular interest: four separate maps form a double-hemisphere world map, including a southern hemisphere with a very distinctively-shaped Australia joined to a southern continent. Miyajima, 'Japanese Celestial Cartography before the Meiji Period' in History of Cartography, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp579-603.; Nakayama, A history of Japanese astronomy (Cambridge MA, 1969) pp.101-104.