Roraishi [sub-title: Kyoka kyobun] [trans.: Lao lai zi (the story of a Chinese filial son), Witty Poems & Sentences]
by OTA, Nanpo, ed
Numerous woodcut illus. in the text. 17; 14; 15; 11 (but numbered 12); 21 folding leaves. Five vols. Small 8vo, orig. patterned wrappers, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers (several labels a little defective), new stitching. Edo: Tsutaya Juzaburo, 1784. First edition, and very rare, of this delightful collection of kyoka and other pieces by many of the most prominent Kyoka poets and Kabuki actors of the day, gathered here to commemorate the 60th birthday of the mother of Nanpo Ota (1749-1823). Ota was a high government official, popular writer, and a central literary figure of his time. This work was published during a golden and tolerant era for Kyoka poets and artists in Japan, issued before the suppressive Kansei reforms of 1787. The overall tone of the contributors is lighthearted, celebrating Mrs. Ota's longevity, using different styles, formats, and scripts (including kyogen). The contributors are named and include Akera Kanko, Koikawa Harumachi, Tegara Okamochi, Ki No Sadamaro, along with Kabuki actors Ichikawa Danjiro, Iwai Hanshiro, Segawa Kikunosuke, Onoe Matsunosuke, etc. Other contributors were artists who provided drawings of the goddess of longevity, along with a chef who has offered a menu of witty foods for a long life, etc. There are also contributors who have given Chinese-style poetry with small illustrations filled with auspicious symbols and calligraphic characters surrounded by explanatory notes. The reference to Laolaizi is from the seventh exemplar from the Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety by Guo Jujing, written during the Yuan Dynasty. In this exemplar, Laolaizi, a hermit, continued to act like a child through middle age in order to amuse his parents and keep them happy. Present at the end of the fifth volume is the rare colophon page mentioning the year of publication. Our book was published by Juzaburo Tsutaya (1750-97), one of the period's most renowned publishers and the great discoverer of talent (most notably Utamaro), whose shop was originally located outside the Great Gate of Yoshiwara. Because of his great commercial success, he moved to Nihonbashi in 1783 which was the center of publishing in Edo. Tsutaya was acquainted with a number of leading writers and intellectuals and he engaged them to write books and prefaces for his publications. Fine set. No copy located by WorldCat.
(Inventory #: 6357)
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