27 - 28 June 2006
Taishang xuanling beidou benming yansheng zhenjing. Heart Scripture on Original Life-Destiny and Extending Life of the Great Sagely Goddess Dipper Mother of the Great High Mysterious Numinosity. China, dated to the twenty-second year of the Jiajing reign of the Ming dynasty [corresponding to 1544, see below].
MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER. Accordion form, 343 x 140 mm. 132 leaves containing 28 paintings with text, of which 12 are double-page. (Some pale dampstaining.) Silk-covered boards (worn). Provenance: purchased from Emil Offenbacher, 17 March 1948 (he had purchased the manuscript in Peiping, 1947; the note below is based mainly on the notes provided him by Dr. Hellmut Wilhelm: "The style of writing and its characteristic variations, the colors used, the quality of ink and paper, all this clearly indicates the middle of the 16th century").
The text is a Taoist treatise about the deity Ursa Major, or the great Bear, which has been included in the Taoist canon of scriptures. It is partly in verses, partly in prose and contains indications about the protecting power of this constellation and its astronomical implications. The binding is covered in yellow silk and bears a note that it was produced through the patronage of the empress. The preface is dated the 28th day of the 7th month, 1542. At the end of the book is dated with the same day, 1543.
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