Illustrated scroll on paper, entitled at end "Kumano kozaura kujirakata onyakusho zaikinchu" [rough trans.: "Whalers in Kumano Sea Area"]
by WHALING SCROLL
About 40 fine ink & brush illus. Scroll (273 x 6795 mm.), on 21 joined sheets, fabric-backed endpapers with gilt. At end: "researched and copied in 1856 for Tanesuke Takeuchi" [a government official in Kumano in today's Wakayama Prefecture]. Whaling was a main activity for the people living by the Kumano Sea during the Edo period. Whales frequented the area because of the "Black Current." This finely illustrated scroll details the practice of whaling in Kumano. The beginning of the scroll depicts a series of nine species of whales ("semi kujira," "zato kujira," "makko kujira," etc.), one orca, and one dolphin, along with an image of the anatomy of the whale with bone structure and organs depicted. Each image is annotated regarding species, anatomical features, measurements, along with Western and regional names. These are followed by finely colored images of eight boats used in whaling, each with a specific purpose (one for the captain (the sekobune), high level sailors, harpooners, boats for spreading nets, boats to pull the whale back to land, and one for government officials). Next, various flags are shown; they are used by onshore whale spotters to signal to the whalers where their prey is located in the sea. Horns to signal the whalers are shown as well as a telescope. A series of seven harpoons of different sizes are depicted. In fine condition, carefully backed at an early date. Preserved in a handsome lacquered box.
(Inventory #: 6229)
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