Japanese medical manuscript notebooks, 1810-1849 and undated 3.5 Linear Feet — 63 Items
The sixty-three Japanese manuscript volumes in this collection were created from 1810 to 1849, chiefly by medical students, and document Japanese medical training and practice during the time also known as the Edo period, and the conjoining of Chinese-inspired materia medica with current Western medical practices introduced primarily by the Dutch. The notebooks range in length from 10 to 154 pages, and typically take the form of transcriptions of lectures and demonstrations; in many cases the writer recorded the place and time of the demonstration and the name of the medical school. There are also volumes which represent the collected knowledge of well-known Japanese physicians of the time, especially Hanaoka Seishū but also Takenaka Bunsuke (Nanpō). There are references in the notes to at least a dozen other contemporary or earlier physicians.
The copyists and note-takers signed their names at the end of the volumes; the name Yamanaka Shūsai Hideyuki appears most frequently; also appearing frequently are the names of editors and proofreaders, and corrections and later annotations in red ink are found in a number of the manuscripts. In addition to the contemporary dates, there are many references to the earlier manuscript versions being copied: these dates range from 1677 to 1796.
The topics covered by the volumes range widely, and include: herbal medicine and other prescriptions; treatments for diseases of the eye and other parts of the head; surgery, particularly on cancers, swellings, and fistulas; breast cancer; smallpox; scurvy; osteopathy; the treatment of wounds; hematology; gynecology and obstetrics; and pediatric medicine. There are several volumes containing illustrative drawings, some hand-colored and others are black-and-white; they include detailed images of surgical procedures and close-ups of suturing; examples of bandages and wrappings; osteopathic manipulations; and medicinal plants.
One volume in particular stands out above the rest, consisting of over ninety carefully drawn, full-page, hand-coloured illustrations, nine of which are double-page, displaying patients with dislocated limbs, skin cancer, or requiring sophisticated bandages, as well as illustrations of internal organs and one page with surgical instruments. One of the illustrations is a realistic portrait of Hanaoka Seishū, with a beard and spectacles (probably imported from Holland), showing him excising a cyst from a patient. At the end of the volume, two different explanatory texts in Kanbun (classical Chinese read in the Japanese manner) provide comments in the volume about the diseases and their treatment.
Each codex in the collection is composed of leaves of rice paper, with hand-sewn bindings and soft covers, and calligraphy in black and red ink. Some of the texts are written in Shino Japanese (Chinese reading style) using all Kanji characters, while other texts are in Shino Japanese written in 19th-century characters - the language of the educated class in Japan. At least one volume (Vol. 21) contains Dutch words for medicinal compounds. The script reads back to front; the script is laid out in vertical columns that are read from right to left across the page. In some cases, pages or sections and covers are missing, and some volumes bear traces of insect damage, but for the most part, the volumes are remarkably well-preserved.
All titles are taken when possible from the covers or from section headings; approximate translations in English provided by library staff and are in brackets. In the case of missing titles, a title was supplied from content by library staff. Titles and significant names are also given in Japanese characters, and some older calendar dates are also given in modern Western dates. Illegible or untranslatable text is indicated by blank lines.
Volumes are arranged in this collection guide in two series: sets of notebooks, and single volumes. The items in the sets are linked by common themes or bodies of knowledge, and range from two to eleven volumes. They include collections of works by one physician, as well as sets of manuals and lecture notes on topics such as obstetrics and gynecology, metallurgy, opthalmology, pox and skin diseases, and others. Single volumes are housed after the sets.
All titles are taken when possible from the covers or from section headings; approximate translations in English provided by library staff and are in brackets. Titles and significant names are also given in Japanese characters.
Each volume has been assigned a unique institutional identifier.
Acquired as part of the History of Medicine Collections at Duke University.