Illustrated Essay On Karma

Carus, Paul
Suzuki Teitarou (Translator)
Kason Suzuki (Illustrations)
Hasegawa, T. (Illustrator & Printer):
Karma, A Story of Early Buddhism, illustrated and printed by T. Hasagawa, Tokyo (10 Hiyoshi-cho) for The Open Court Publishing Co, Chicago, �1894, stated Third Edition, Meiji 30 (1897), 12mo (6 x 7 3/4 in - 15.2 x 19.8 cm), crepe paper, silk stab ties, spine covered, 12 folded pages - 24 pages total (including the covers). Illustrated with color woodblock prints. The illustrations for this book were produced by Suzuki Kason. Illustrated front cover and illustrated colophon inside the back cover, 21 numbered pages. The inside back cover continues the story and contains the colophon but is not numbered. This work outlines early Buddhist origins in India.

I have examined two slightly different covers for the Third Edition. The images are the same. On one book the lettering for "Karma" is printed in black. On the other type "Karma" is red, the same color as the other letting.

The covers for the Second Edition are significantly different from the covers of the Third Edition.

The book is sometimes (rarely however) found with wrap-around tissue protector which notes that it was translated into Russian by Count Leo Tolstoi. Occasionally, it is found with a postcard size printed notice from the Open Court Publishing company noting this book and the companion book, Nirvana, A Story of Early Buddhism with prices for the books. For information on that book, click here.

The first edition of this book was printed on crepe paper and was published in December of Meiji 28 (1895). The second edition was printed on both crepe and plain paper in October of Meiji 29 (1896). This third edition was printed on crepe paper and published in late 1897. The third edition included revised illustrations and is a somewhat different book than the first and second edition. A Japanese language version of the book was published in 1898.


Close up of Colophon

The Wraparound Tissue Protector



Carus, Paul
Hasegawa, T. (Illustrator & Printer):
Karma, A Story of Early Buddhism, illustrated and printed by T. Hasagawa, Tokyo for The Open Court Publishing Co, Chicago, �1894, printed December, 1895, large 12mo, 18 pp. A crepe paper book with silk thread tied binding and double leaves folded Japanese style. Illustrated with color woodblock prints.

Main Hasegawa Page


Fukuro-Toji Bound Picture Books. The books published by Takejiro Hasegawa are in the nature of books falling under the Japanese generic descriptive title of Ehon ("e" - picture "hon" - book). They are generally bound in the traditional Japanese book binding style know as "fukuro-toji" which means "pouch binding." In this binding process sheets of paper are printed (woodblock and/or text) on only one side. They are then folded in half with the printed side out. The folded printed sheets are then stacked together along with similarly printed and folded covers and the unit secured along the spine, which is the side opposite the folds, to form the book. This technique gives you the folded pages (double leaves) which are open at the top and bottom forming the pouch ("fukuro") which the binding technique is named after. As a general rule the "fukuro-toji" books are secured/tied with (Yotsume toji bindings) in where four small holes are made along the spine edge and the sheets and covers are then bound together tightly with string or thread ties that wrap around the spine. Generally the spine is not covered except for small portions at the top and bottom. Hasegawa seldom used this form of binding. However, some of the early first editions are found secured in the traditional four hole string tie fashion. I have only seen this with the plain paper books. Most Hasegawa books were secured at the spine using two stab type holes (one at the top and one at the bottom) and secured by silk string or silk ribbon ties (Yamato toji binding). Large books consolidating several individual books are found bound with Kangxi bindings. A very few were tied in a Western style with the string binding concealed under the outside portion of the front and back covers. The paper used was a high quality wood (no rag content) based "washi," generally manufactured from mulberry. The majority of the books were crepe ("chirimen") paper. These are referred to as "chirimen-bon" (crepe paper book) in Japanese. The crepe paper process occurred between the printing process and binding processes. Hasegawa's books were uniformly of high quality in all aspects; paper, ink, execution of the art and text, printing (woodblock printing and Western type face text printing), assembly and binding.

Key Actors in the Production Process. These books involved several key actors in the production process.

  • Publisher/Editor. Kobunsha/Takejiro Hasegawa or his successor.
  • Author/Translator. Since these books were intended for markets outside of Japan, Hasegawa employed numerous prominent foreigners for this task. Many famous Westerners living in Meiji Japan were associated with Hasegawa's work. Occasionally, Hasegawa would be commissioned by others to produce their work. However, the overwhelming majority of the books were published at his initiative and under his control.
  • Artist. Hasegawa retained a group of artists to execute the illustrations for his work.
  • Text Printer. The text printing in the books was executed by a different printer from the woodblock printer.
  • Woodblock Printer. The woodblocks would be produced from the artist's work and then printed by the woodblock printer. It appears that most of the woodblock printing was done by the Komiya family.

Frederic Sharf, in his work Takejiro Hasegawa, Meiji Japan's Preeminent Publisher of Wood-Block-Illustrated Crepe-Paper Books (see here) records a remarkable amount of information on all these key individuals. In his bibliography of these books, he documents the books and, as far as the information was available, gives the names of these key people. His book also provides an in depth discussion of Hasegawa's life and business and the key authors and translators he employed. Sharf's work is an essential resource for the collector and student of these books.

Size. There are four basic sizes of the crepe paper books.

  • Very Small Size -- large 32mo (3 1/2 x 6 in - 10 x 15.2 cm). The smallest size I have seen in the Japanese Fairy Tale books (not calendars, however).
  • Small Size -- small 18mo (4 x 6 in - 10.3 x 15.2 cm). This is the standard size for the Fairy Tale Series books.
  • Medium Size -- large 18mo (4 3/4 x 6 1/2 in - 12 x 16.5 cm).
  • Medium Size -- 12mo (5+ x 7+ in - 13.4 x 18.8 cm) typical plain paper size.
  • Large Size -- large 12mo (6 x 7 1/2 in - 14.8 x 19 cm).
  • Very Large Size -- 8vo (7+ x 9+ in) primarily the plain paper books.
It is possible to generalize on size of crepe books versus plain paper books. The plain paper books are approximately 50% larger than the counterpart version on crepe paper. As a general rule the plain paper books measure 12.3+ x 18+ cm while the same book in crepe paper measures 9.8+ x 15+ cm. Since the crepe books were first completed in a plain paper format and the paper then creped, perhaps the difference is shrinkage during that process.

Crepe/Plain Paper. In the second edition of Oyuchasan, published in 1893, Hasegawa advertised The Japanese Fairy Tale Series, Nos. 1-20 in "Ordinary Paper & Crepe Paper." On this matter, Sharf notes that the Maruzen company in Tokyo sold Hasegawa/Kobunsha books and until 1893 all listed in company catalogues were on plain paper. The 25 numbers of the First Japanese Fairy Tale Series, as well as No 1 & 2 of the Second Series, were apparently all sold in plain paper versions. They were also sold in crepe paper versions.

Bindings. Discussed and illustrated below.

Wraparound Cases (Chitsu). A very few of the Hasegawa books were sold with tradational Japanese wraparound cases (bone/ivory clasps) although they are seldom seen with material currently being offered commercially. When the books are enclosed in these hinged cases, the top and bottom of the case are open. The following have been confirmed with folding cases:

  • Dichtergusse Aus Dem Osten, Japanishce Dichtungen
  • Poetical Greetings from the Far East
  • White Aster
  • Japanische Dichtungen, Weissaster
  • Sword and Blossom Poems, 3 volumes (padded folding cover with title and plain with no lettering).
  • Japanische Dramen: Terakoya u. Asagao
  • Lafcadio Hearn's five book Japanese Fairy Tale sets.

Colophons (Japanese Language). The books contain Japanese language colophons, generally at the rear. These colophons usually state:

  • Date Printed
  • Date Published
  • Author/translator
  • Editor and Publisher - Takejiro Hasegawa with the Tokyo Address
  • Woodblock Printer and Address
  • Text Printer and Address.

They also generally state in English and/or Japanese - "Copyright Reserved" / "All Rights Registered and Reserved." An example of a colophon with English translations annotated is here. A word of caution is necessary regarding colophons in these books. It was not unusual for a later reprint of a book to contain the same colophon found in the earlier edition. Dating these books can be a complicated undertaking and that is discussed below.

Distributor/Agent Imprints.

Brentano's, New York
Ernst Bojesens, Kunst Frolag Kjobenhavn (Copenhaven - Kobenhavn)
Breitkopf & Hartel, Leipzig, Brussells, London, & New York
Griffith, Farran & Co., London and Sydney, N.S.W.
C.F. Amelang's Verlag, Leipzig
Messrs. Essex & Cammeyer, United Kingdom (Oyuchasan, plain paper version)
First Japanese Mfg and Trading Co., New York City (Silly Jelly Fish, plain paper version)
H. Honig, Netherlands (Dutch language books)
Kelly and Walsh, Yokohama
Maruzen, Tokyo
Macrae-Smith, Philadelphia (1931 Lafcadio Hearn's translated set of 5)
Martin Hopkinson, Ltd, London (limited quantities generally 200-500)
Open Court Publishing, Chicago
Sampson Low, Marston & Company (Rat's Plaint, Children's Japan, Niponese Rhymes & Princess Splendor)
Shepherds, London
Simkin Marshall Co, London
Simkin Marshall, Hamilton, Kent Co., London
Ticknor & Co., Boston (Aino Fairy Tales No. 1 and No. 2)
Trubner & Co., London (Perhaps Aino Fairy Tales)
Wentzel Hagelstam Forlag, Helsingfors (Helsinki), Swedish language books
Griffith, Farran & Co. Imprint Books. The first 16 Fairy Tales were printed by Kobunsha with the Griffith, Farran & Company imprint. The special printings for Griffith, Farran & Company were published ca 1888. These books are generally found bound into four volumes but sometimes unbound and in the original state. Regarding the Hasegawa - Griffith, Farran & Co. relationship, Sharf notes:
Early on in his career, he had prepared a special edition of his crepe-paper fairy tale series for the venerable English publisher Griffith, Farran & Company. With offices in London and Sydney, and with a solid reputation for their children's books, the firm was an important client for Hasegawa in the 1880's. The books that Griffith, Farran contracted with Hasegawa to produce were more in the Western vein, with sewn and glued spines, and with Griffith, Farran identification on the cover. (Sharf at page 22, underlining is mine)

From a binding perspective the major distinction in these special production books is that they are not bound by stab ties or external string ties. Additional information on several of these books is found here.

Different Language Versions. The Fairy Tale books were printed several languages.

  • Danish - "Japanesiske Eventyr" - Three books, Krigen Mellem Aberne og Krabberne (I), Spurven der mistede sin Tunge (II) and Brendehuggeren og Troldene (III), Japanesiske Eventyr I-III, translated by Agnes Berner, distributed by Ernst Bojesens, Kunstforlag, Coppenhagen, bearing the Kobunsha, Tokyo imprint . The same three titles were translated into Swedish (see below).
  • Dutch - Two books; Shitakiri Suzume, plain paper, c1886 and De Musch Met De Geknipte Tong), plain paper, 18.1 cm x 12.3cm, 10 double pages, 1892. A Dutch language calendar has also been reported (Almanak voor 1903).
  • French - "Les Contes du Vieux Japon" (Nos. 1~21, same books/numbers as in English versions). An early edition (Battle of the Monkey and the Crab) is reported on plain paper in medium size (12.5 x 18 cm) with the 2 Minami Saegi-cho address. In this book the covers are in color but the internal woodblocks are black and white. This type of book would date between 1885 and 1889. In an advertisement published in 1906, Hasegawa offered the 20 volume set "..une boite en carton" for $6.00.
  • German - "Japanische Marchen" First Series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 21, 21 Second Edition. Second Series: 2 & 3. For more information on the German translations, click here. Japanische Marchen, Momotaro, was republished in 1942. To see the covers and book list in this book, click here. In an advertisement published in 1906, Hasegawa offered volumes 1-5 " Carton" for $1.25.
  • Portuguese - "Contos do Velho Japano de Carangueijo" (Nos. 1~8).
  • Spanish - Two series. First series, "Cuentos del Japon Viejo (Nos. 1~10)." Second series Leyendas y Narraciones Japonesas (Nos. 1~10)." For more information on this set click here. Several Spanish language calendars have been reported.
  • Swedish - "Japanesiski Sagor" - were translated by Konni Zilliacus who spent the period from 1894-6 in Japan. During this time he collaborated with T. Hasegawa to translate Fairy Tales No. 1 (Momotaro), No. 2 (Spariven med den Klippta Tungan) and No. 7 (Gubben och Trollen) into the Swedish language. These were printed in Tokyo and carried the Wentzel Hagelstam, Forlag, Helsingfors, imprint in addition to "T. Hasegawa's Tryckeri" (10 Hiyoshi-cho, Tokyo). To see the front covers of these books, click here. The same three titles were translated into Danish (see above).
  • Italian and Russian (one book, The Wonderful Tea Kettle).
  • Polish. It appears that a series in Polish was proposed but never published.

Hasegawa Output Over the Years (1885~1930). I have not seen a definitive listing of all the books and calendars produced by The Kobunsha and T. Hasegawa over the years. However, a review of this material that I have seen indicates more than 250 different and distinctive books or calendars were produced over this period. One advanced collector has placed the total at more than 700. This includes crepe and plain paper books of the same title as well as versions of the books in different languages as distinctive publications. It does not include different printing of the same item.

Quantities Produced. I have not found a record of the output of the various Hasegawa publications. Sharf notes that the books were "...produced in quantities of either five hundred or one thousand copies per title...." (Sharf at page 11). I am aware of only one book where the quantity printed is actually stated. That is Japanese Dramen: Terakoya u. Asagao. At least seven editions of the book were produced with a quantity of 1,000 copies per edition. In this book the quantity is stated on the folding case, on the title page and in the colophon.

Takejiro Hasegawa in Japanese. In the colophon of these books you often see Hasegawa's name in this manner:






Addresses in Japanese (all in Tokyo). A listing of addresses and dates is provided in the Sharf book at Appendix Three.

The Kobunsha

  • 2 Minami Saegi-Cho, Kyobashi-ku
    Kobunsha sometimes lists as "No. 2 Minami, Sayegicho" in English

    (reading from right to left)

    (reading from top to bottom)
  • 3 Maruya-cho, Kyobashi-ku

    (reading from right to left and top to bottom -
    in use only a very short period of time)


  • 10 Hiyoshi-cho, Kyobashi-ku
  • 20 Honzaimoko-cho, Nichome, Nihonbashi-ku

    (in use only a short period of time)
  • 38 Honmura-cho, Yotsuya-ku
    Hasegawa lists as "38 Yotsuya, Honmura" in English
  • 17 Kami Negishi-cho, Shitaya-ku

    The name "Hasegawa Publishing Company"
    is often associated with this address

First Editions, Japanese Fairy Tales 1-16 (English)

Michael Hollander, in his List of these book, states the following regarding the English language Japanese Fairy tale books:

A true first edition set of the Fairy Tale series will consist of the first twelve titles on plain paper, with titles in phonetic Japanese, and the imprint Kobunsha. The titles numbered 13-20 on creped paper with the titles in English and the imprint of Kobunsha and the titles numbered 21-23 on creped paper and with the imprint Hasegawa & Co., complete a first edition set. (Hollander, at page 339)

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as this. I find it interesting that Sharf does not deal with the matter of the various editions in his comprehensive book on T. Hasegawa aside from presenting printing and publication dates. Since earlier dates were often repeated verbatim in later editions, the dates you find are not absolutely determinative as to whether a book is a first edition.

I will present my tentative observations/conclusions regarding first editions below. I believe that the plain paper books predated the crepe paper books for the first 20 English Japanese Fairy Tale Series books.

Plain Paper, First Editions
Cover Title Types A, A1, A2, B & B1

First Editions and Transliterated Title Versus Translated Title, Nos. 1-12. The first editions of the first 12 English language Japanese Fairy Tale Series have the title spelled phonetically in English (transliterated). The title appears translated into English on the first page of the text. In addition, these books are plain paper and have the Kobunsha imprint. Some of these books are found with the title of "Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. __" in addition to the transliterated title. Currently, my research indicates that starting with 1886 (No. 7) the Japanese Fairy Tale series number was included on the cover along with the title. It also appears that starting with 1887 (No 13) use of the transliterated title was discontinued in favor of the translated title.

In a comment somewhat related to this matter, Frederic A. Sharf states:

The first printed listing of Kobunsha products (seen by the author) was issued in December of 1886, and it contained the first twelve volumes of the Japanese Fairy Tale Series. Each volume was identified with the cover title in Japanese and the English equivalent on the inside first page. The next listing was issued February 1887 with fourteen volumes, but at this point all the cover titles were in English, an obvious concession to the need to develop an export market. (Sharf at page 12)

Regarding paper type (plain and crepe), Sharf notes that the Maruzen firm first listed the Hasegawa books in it's 1890 catalogue and at that time they were all plain paper versions (Sharf at page 17). He then observes that in an 1893 Maruzen catalogue, they were listed in crepe and plain paper. In a later edition of Oyuchasan, published in January of 1893, Hasegawa advertised the Japanese Fairy Tale Series, Nos. 1-20 in "Ordinary Paper & Crepe Paper." It appears very likely that all the Fairy Tale books between Nos. 1 and 20 (1885~1892) were first printed on plain paper and that the crepe paper versions followed later and were available as early as 1893. It certainly does appear that in the period around 1890, as the Kobunsha imprint was being discontinued and the T. Hasegawa imprint was being established, there was a definite shift from the production of plain paper books to creped paper books.

8 Thus far I have confirmed plain paper versions of Nos. 1~18 (1885-9). I am of the opinion that the plain paper versions of these books were the first editions and probably the same is the case for Nos. 19-20 (1891~92).

With regard to plain paper versions of Nos. 1~18, below are the major types of titles I have identified.

Type A. Transliterated Titles:

Type A1. Transliterated Titles with "Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. __":


Type A2. Transliterated Titles only on Front Cover - Transliterated
Title & "Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. __" inside Front Cover:


Type B. Translated Titles with "Japanese Fairy Tale Series. No. __"

Type B1. Translated Title without "Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. __"

(Seldom seen Variation)

The plain paper books with type A1, B & B1 titles are sometimes called "Saihan" (second printing). They may have a slightly different color scheme on the front cover. Despite the slightly different covers, the colophons and contents are the same.

The plain paper books measure approximately 4 3/4~5 x 7 in (12.1~12.8 x 17.7~18.6 cm).

I am of the opinion that it is accurate to call all the plain paper versions of Nos. 1-12 "First Editions." Some may be later printings but it appears accurate to call them all first editions despite minor variations in titles.

My review of these books leads me to the following tentative conclusions.

    Transliterated Titles on the Front Cover:
  • Type A (transliterated) titles appear (believed used only on Nos. 1-6) to be the earliest type and first editions, first printings. Use confirmed on Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6 thus far.
  • Type A1 (transliterated and with Fairy Tale no.) titles of Nos. 1-6 are believed to be second printings of the first edition. Use confirmed on Nos. 3 (2nd ed) & 4 thus far.
  • Type A1 titles of Nos. 7-12 are believed to be the first printing of the first edition. Use confirmed on Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 17 thus far. Fairy Tale No. 17 (Schippeitaro) was not issued with a different or translated title.
  • Type A2 titles. Use confirmed on No. 1 (2nd edition) and No. 6 thus far.
  • Translated Titles on the Front Cover:
  • Type B (translated and with Fairy Tale No.) titles start to appear consistently with Nos 13. Use has been confirmed on Nos. 2 (2nd ed), 3 (2nd ed) 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 23, 24, 25, Second Series, No. 1 and the Fountain of Youth thus far. I believe it is very likely that all numbers between 1-12 have a later (first edition but later printing) plain paper printing using the Type B title cover. Further, I believe that starting with No. 13, only the Type B cover title was used.
  • Type B1 variant (translated but without Fairy Tale no.) has only been seen on Nos. 5 and 7 and those book carried "Japanese Fairy Tales, No. 5/ 7" internally with the colophon.

Plain Paper Versions with Brown (not illustrated) Outer Covers. The books discussed above all have illustrated front and back covers. A variant of these books has been recorded with plain brown covers bound in Japanese style with thin string ties. These books have a white paste on label with a decorative border which reads "Japanese Fairy Tales" at the top. Below that is the name of the tale in Japanese and translated into English. Below that is "Published by Kobunsha" and the No 2. Minami Tokyo address. On the right and left are vertical columns of Japanese text. The left hand columns give the printing and publication dates and all were printed and published in Meiji 18 (1885). The dates given correspond to the dates found on the plain paper first editions with color illustrated covers. The labels do not have a fairy tale number and none is stated internally. Books in this format are reported for "Momotaro"(No. 1), "Shita Kiri" Suzume (No. 2), "Saru Kani Kassen" (No 3), "Hana Saki Jiji" (No. 4), "KachiKachi Yama" (No. 5) and "Nedzumi no Yome-ire" (No. 6). All illustrations in these books are in black and white. Sharf, referring to these books, calls them the "first Kobunsha" books and notes they were intended for the Japanese educational market (Sharf at page 11).

Plain Paper Versions of Nos. 13-20. These numbers are probably all found in plain paper versions. I have confirmed plain paper versions of Nos 13~16 (Wooden Bowl) and 17 and 18. The plain paper versions I have seen of these are only found with translated titles which include "Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. __." (type B). The crepe paper versions carry the same type titles. Additionally Nos. 19~20 are reported in plain paper but I have not examined a copy. In a later edition of Oyuchasan, published in January of 1893, Hasegawa advertised the Japanese Fairy Tale Series, Nos. 1-20 in "Ordinary Paper & Crepe Paper." It is unclear whether the plain paper versions are first editions or whether they were published simultaneously with the crepe paper versions. However, it does appear logical that the plain paper versions were published and distributed before the crepe paper versions. The plain paper versions are uniformly larger than the crepe paper ones, measuring 17.9~18.5 x 12.1~12.5 cm.

Determining Date of Printing & Publication. As with most books, values generally vary on a particular item based upon when it was printed and published. The earlier books often command a premium over later printings. Unfortunately, often the books do not state the date of printing or edition. An additional complicating factor is the fact that dates in the Japanese colophons are often not helpful because later editions would sometimes carry colophons from earlier versions (more on this in the next paragraph). However, many of the T. Hasegawa publications give the Hasegawa address. A listing of addresses and dates is provided in the Sharf book. With the address/dates, you can get a helpful "guestimate" of when a particular books was produced. Another means of establishing the date of printing is review of the advertising list found at the back of many of the books. If the date of the last book listed/advertised is known, then the approximate date of printing of the book in hand can be bracketed. The fact that a book carries the Kobunsha (rather than Hasegawa) imprint can not be considered conclusive evidence it is an early printing (1890 and earlier). Reprints are found that carry that carry the Kobunsha imprint even after it was discontinued in favor of the Hasegawa imprint.

Reprints. To complicate dating books, one must consider the matter of reprints produced by Hasegawa. It is evident that books were reprinted at later dates but the original colophons were not changed, at least the dates. Perhaps the Japanese in the colophon denotes it as a reprint but I have been unable to confirm that. I have personally reviewed two series of books (No 1~15, first series, small 18mo, crepe) which were originally published under the Kobunsha imprint in the period from 1885~1887. The colophons in these books reflect the original printing and publication dates. However, the imprint (in Japanese in one series [c1898] and English in the other series [c1911]) is Takejiro Hasegawa, not Kobunsha. Based upon the address listed for Hasegawa in the books, and to some degree the advertising, it is very clear these are reprints. Books (Nos. 1-20) printed on plain paper are most likely first editions and not later reprints. However, they might represent different printings (first or second printings) of a first edition.

Copyright Notices. My review of Hasegawa/Kobunsha works indicates that copyright notices were not added to the books until the late-1890s. For the English language Japanese Fairy Tales No. 1-20, the presence of a copyright notice or "All Rights Reserved" notice is a strong indication that the book is a reprint or later edition. Below are examples of the Hasegawa copyright notice.


Book Binding Techniques. The vast majority of books marketed by T. Hasegawa were bound in traditional Japanese sewn binding techinques. These binding types (Yotsume toji, Kangxi and Yamato toji) are detailed below. Of these binding types, the vast majority of the books were bound in the Yamato toji style. Under special contract with Griffith, Farran & Co., the first 16 books of the fairy tale series were bound in a western type style without stab ties or external string ties. A few other non-fairy tale books were also bound in this manner.

Yotsume toji Binding.   The first editions (individual books) were sometimes bound with very flimsy string ties.

Artist: Unidentified Artist Japanese, active late 13th century

Period: Kamakura period (1185–1333)

Date: late 13th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper

Dimensions: Image: 10 7/8 x 22 3/8 in. (27.6 x 56.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 43 1/2 x 23 1/4 in. (110.5 x 59.1 cm)
Overall with knobs: 43 1/2 x 25 1/4 in. (110.5 x 64.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, several members of The Chairman's Council Gifts, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation and Mary and James G. Wallach Foundation Gifts, 2012

Accession Number: 2012.249


Sinicized figures representing the Buddha’s father and his men occupy a landscape with a rolling hill and trees. The text beneath the illustration relates how Prince Siddhartha (the historical Buddha) travels to Mount Gaya and practices asceticism for six years. The worried king dispatches ministers to report on his son’s activities and orders that he be brought one thousand cartfuls of daily necessities and watched over at all times.

This work is a section of a handscroll version of the Buddhist scripture The Illustrated Sutra of Past and Present Karma. It details the lives, past and present, of the historical Buddha. The earliest examples of this work in Japan, which date to the eighth century, are thought to be copies of now-lost ancient Chinese originals.

See additional object information


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