The Tales of Isopo Scrolls: Illustrating Aesop's Fables in 17th c. Kyoto

September 12, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room)

Portuguese Jesuits sponsored the first translation of Aesop's Fables into an East Asian language (Amakusa: 1593), with a subsequent translation appearing around 1610 in Kyoto. This translation went through some nine separate reprintings by a number of publishers, until in 1659 an illustrat­ ed edition appeared. Given the nature of the content, including both a fictional "Life of Aesop" and dozens of fables featuring creatures familiar and exotic, it is reasonable to expect that the Fables would also have appeared in an illustrated handscroll format.

This talk analyzes a set of six handscrolls that had not been described in scholarly literature since 1930, and which remained unknown to scholars until their "rediscovery" in a private collection in September 2015. Painted in full color and using expensive pigments, the scrolls were most likely commissioned for the children of a wealthy merchant or aristocratic household in the mid-seven­ teenth century, decades after the banning of Christianity in Japan.

Lawrence E. Marceau is Senior Lecturer in Japanese at the University of Auckland. A specialist in the literature and cultural stud­ ies of Early Modern (Edo/Tokugawa) Japan, he is author of Takebe Ayatari: A Bunjin Bohemian in Early Modern Japan, among numerous other studies.

Event Sponsor
Center for Japanese Studies , Mānoa Campus

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