Friday, June 1, 2018

A Japanese "book of Falconry"

These woodblock illustrations of falcon 
training come from a mid-1860s
album called 'Ehon Taka Kagami' 
(~The Illustrated Mirror of Falconry)

"Kawanabe Kyôsai (Gyôsai) (1831-89) was a Kano painter, printmaker, and illustrator, the son of a Samurai. At the age of six he entered the studio of Utagawa Kuniyoshi^, and from the age of nine became a student of the academic Kano school, studying under Maemura Towa and then Tohaku Chinshin, who gave him the name "Toiku". He exhibited at the Vienna International Exposition in 1873, and at the first and second Paris Japanese Art Exhibitions of 1883 and 1884. In the early years of the Meiji period (1868-1912) he attained considerable popularity with his political caricatures, for which he was arrested and imprisoned in 1870. His famous 'Kyosai Gadan' (1887), an attempt to show a variety of traditional Japanese and Chinese painting styles, was widely appreciated in Europe, and was issued with English captions for the export market.

Kyosai's 'Ehon Taka Kagami' is the major resource on Japanese falconry, with wonderful woodcuts of hawks, field work, breeding, hoods, gloves, and other associated tools and items of equipment. It records the ancient Japanese methods of care, raising, and training of the Siberian Goshawk, considered the best variety for use in falconry since ancient times. Harting 371. Schwerdt III p. 245; see G. Schack. Kyosais Falkenjagd." [source]
"A major resource on Japanese falconry, the capture, taming & teaching of falcons, the grooming, feeding and culture of the bird of prey. Wonderful illustrations of falcons, the associated tools & equipment, stands, methods of warming in winter before the hunt, winter hunting, respect for. On the flushing to expose game birds to be hunted by the falcon, the kill, capture of the quarry. How to tether, hoods, master's gloves and other accoutrements, field work, breeding, bathing &c." [source: removed ebay auction listing]

Ehon Taka Kagami 8

Ehon Taka Kagami 15

Ehon Taka Kagami 12

Ehon Taka Kagami 7

Ehon Taka Kagami 4

Ehon Taka Kagami 10

Ehon Taka Kagami 15

Ehon Taka Kagami 6

Ehon Taka Kagami 5

Ehon Taka Kagami 13

Ehon Taka Kagami 1
"This magnificent work was issued once in a single first and only edition, and is complete in five volumes. The first series: 3 vols. were published in 1877, followed by the second series consisting of 2 volumes in 1879. [..]
This marvelous work uses crushed mica as an integral part of the hand-made Washi paper. These tiny flecks of mica give a sparkle to the illustrations, and are especially effective on the feather portion of the falcons. Mica gives a realistic and "high-tech" touch to the wood-cut printing technique. [..] The collation of the set is: vol. 1,3,4,5, each have 10p.; vol. 2 has 11p. Every page is nicely illustrated, it contains some 111 illustrations in all. [..]

This work is the most comprehensive single monograph devoted to Japanese falconry ever published in the 19th century or in prior periods. Gyôsai's superb artistic skill and solid ability to capture the essence and feel of real and live Japanese falconry has yet to be surpassed in woodcut media. The application of mica dust is now a lost art, and never done. The work outlines the ancient methods and culture of the falcon. This work records the last of the ancient falconry methods of care, raising and training, again a lost art in Japan." [source]

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Coral Book, 18th C

Madrepora agaricites (detail)

Millepora miniacea

Madrepora anthophyllum

Madrepora cuspidata

Madrepora natans (detail)

Millepora alciornis

Cellepora leprosa

Millepora polymorpha (detail)

Isis nobilis (Esper coral book)

Madrepora cristata (detail)

Isis ochraea

Madrepora labyrithiformis (detail)

Madrepora porites (Esper coral book)

Subipora musica + purpurea

Madrepora caerulea

Zoologist, lepidopterist and naturalist, Eugenius JC Esper (1742-1810), inherited his father's love of natural history which he pursued as a sideline to his lectureship duties in science at the University of Erlangen in Germany.

He would rise to head the Department of Natural History in Erlangen while expanding their zoological collections substantially (his butterfly collection still exists). He also published a number of copiously illustrated monograph collections relating to seaweeds, butterflies, coral, birds, insects as well as mineralology and general natural history.

The present work is entitled 'Die Pflanzenthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Farben erleuchtet nebst Beschreibungen' (something like: Natural animal-plants in colour with enlightened commentary) that was first published in ~1791. I get the feeling there were a number of editions or it appeared in excerpts and was subsequently republished as a collection with a variable number of illustrations.

The majority of the images above were sourced from the new natural history collection at the University of Heidelberg. (I've had that bookmarked for months waiting for it to be populated and it looks like almost all the authors have appeared on BibliOdyssey previously). Click on anything below 'Inhalt' at the 'Die Pflanzenthiere..' webpage and then click 'vorschau' to load all the thumbnail pages.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Treasures of Troyes, 14th C

2 figures pray before the crossTroyes Musées, inv 2003.3.463. 'Charte de Charles V - Charles V
et Pierre de Villiers en Prière' (Parisian gothic style from c.1367)

judge in courtms.129 'Nicolas de Lyre, Postilles - Maître Enseignant', illuminated
by 2 artists from Troyes in the 1470s as part of a body of work
that was produced for the rich families of Troyes.

illuminated letter Pms.512 'Epîtres de Saint Paul Glosées' from the Roman period
of the 11th and 12th centuries - produced in the Abbey of Clairvaux.

gold illumination letter QTrésor de la Cathédrale: ms.12 'Psautier du Comte Henri'.
A carolingian manuscript from before AD 850.

Illuminated Initiale du Livre d'Ezéchiel

Letter H illuminated with animalThe above 2 images are from ms.28 'Bible de Montiéramey' from about 1160,
a monumental transition work between Roman and gothic style periods.

illuminated letter Bms.92 'Pierre Lombard, Commentaire sur les Psaumes - David Jouant de la Harpe'.
The 'Manerius' style from the late 12th C

illuminated letter Hms.103 'Gratien, Décret - Pouvoir Ecclésiastique et Pouvoir Laïc' - 12th century.

monochromatic illuminated letterms.27 'Grande Bible de Clairvaux' also produced in the Abbey of Clairvaux
which was established by St Bernard in 1132. This 12th century manuscript
is the oldest example of the monochromatic style that became fashionable
when certain embellishments were proscribed by St Bernard.

[click images for larger versions]

The media library in Troyes are said to have the richest collection of illuminated manuscripts in France, outside of the french national library. Documents have been contributed to the exhibition from a number of local public, private and religious sources. The site is in french.

In addition to the flash presentation there are downloadable quicktime (.exe) movies but I'm not sure they are worth the bandwidth. I watched the smallest one (~60Mb) and it was a nicely produced montage, although not particularly additive to the plain jpeg manuscript images. But the films are are also available in smaller format streams.