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15 - 16 June 1998
KULMUS, Johann Adam. Kaitai shinsho [Anatomical Tables]. Translated into Japanese and edited by Sugita Genpaku (1733-1818), Maeno Ryotaku (1723-1803), Nakagawa Jun'an (1739-1786), Ishikawa Genjo (1744-1816) and Katsuragawa Hoshu (1751-1809). Yedo [Tokyo]: 1774.
5 volumes, large 8o (256 x 176 mm). One volume contains a woodcut Italianate architectural title-border and 40 woodcut anatomical illustrations. Original paper wrappers, stabbed and sewn in the Japanese style, front covers with printed labels; cloth folding case with ivory hasps. Provenance: plates annoted in Japanese in red ink.
FIRST JAPANESE EDITION. THE INTRODUCTION OF EUROPEAN ANATOMICAL KNOWLEDGE TO JAPAN, AND A LANDMARK IN THE HISTORY OF JAPANESE MEDICINE. "Prior to the introduction of Western medicine in Japan the Japanese had derived their medical theories from traditional Chinese medical philosophy, based upon a non-empirical, holistic and quasi-religious view of the body in which an exact knowedge of anatomy was meaningless" (Norman). Although this view was challenged in the 17th century when Western anatomical theory was first introduced with the arrival of the Dutch East India Company, Japanese medicine remained fundamentally unaltered until the publication of Kaitai shinsho. The translation was apparently made from Gerard Dieten's 1733 Dutch version of the original German text by Kulmus, entitled Anatomische Tabellen (1731). The Western-style title-page contained in the work was copied from Valverde's Vivae imagines partium corporis (1566) and some of the other anatomical woodcut illustrations are copied directly from Bidloo's Ontleding des menschelycken lichaams (1690). "According to Sugita, one of the book's translators and editors, the inspiration for Katai shinsho came in 1771 when he and two other students of Dutch medicine bribed an executioner to let them see the dismembered body of a criminal. The three compared what they saw to the anatomical illustrations in Kulmus's book, and, struck by the accuracy of teh European representations, determined to prepare a Japanese edition of Kulmus's anatomy" (Norman). The Kaitai shinsho was directly responsible for Japanese acceptance of the European view of the body and virtually revolutionized their medical conception for all its future development. VERY RARE. Boxer, Jan Campagnie in Japan, pp. 46-47; Waller 5456; Norman 1196. (5)
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