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Kasuga Taisha

Scroll 1
    Scroll 2
    Scroll 3

Kasuga gongen reigenki emaki

(Illustrated Scrolls of the Miracles of the Kasuga Deity)
An excerpt from Royall Tyler's
"The Miracles of the Kasuga Diety"

The Illustrated Miracles of the Kasuga Deity, in twenty fascicles, is an illustrated hand scroll that contains depictions of the miracles of the Kasuga Deity, the tutelary god of the Fujiwara clan. The deity was worshipped at the Grand Shrine of Kasuga (Kasuga Taisha), which wielded great political and cultural influence along with Koufukuji with which the shrine was intergrated.

The scolls were completed in 1309 (Enkyou 2), during the late-Kamakura period, by the painter Takashina Takakane. The set is a rare example of illustrated scroll for which the precise date and creator are known and is thus been recognized as an important historical resource.

The original scrolls are in the possession of the Sannomaru Shouzoukan collection of the Imperial Household Agency, but as they have been severely damaged by flaking etc., research has generally been conducted on the faithful, Edo-era copies owned by Tokyo National Museum. The reproductions of the work found in the readily available the series Nihon emaki taisei, published by Chuuou Kouronsha, are based on these copies and not the original.

As regards the digital images made available here, a slip of paper at the conclusion of the first scroll explains that it was issued by the Emaki Kenkyuukai (Illustrated Hand Scroll Research Association, whose membership included Masaki Naohiko, principal of the Tokyo Bijutsu Gakkou, as a consultant, and Imaizumi Yuusaku, the director of Oukura Shuukokan) sometime during the Taishou era (1912-26). Additionally, according to slips of paper attached to the roller of the second scroll and the boxes containing both the second and third, these scrolls were published by Kasuga Gongen Reigenki Ekotoba Kanseikai (represented by Tanaka Shouhei and Kawamura Isoji) as wood-block printed reproductions on July 20, 1926 (Taishou 15), which were to followed by a new edition each month. There are however some difference between the design of the first scroll and that of the second and third scrolls. A check of other institutions has revealed no evidence that the fourth or any later scrolls were published. The reproduction project seems to have been halted after the three scrolls seen here were published. It should be noted that thirty-two lines of text from the introductory portion of the first scroll do not appear here (this corresponds to the original format of the various editions of the picture scrolls; please see Royall Tyler's commentary on this point), and two sections of the written text, kotobagaki, are missing from the second scroll.
Additionally, in one section of text in the third scroll of this Nara Women's University owned edition, two sheets of paper, eight lines of text, have been interchanged, but this correction is indicated on the digital image.

The wood-block technique is extremely high, and detail depiction is excellent. There are very minor errors in the written text, but the copying of characters fundamentally represents the forms of the originals. Moreover, in the case of illustrated portions of the scrolls, when compared to the original and its copies, the colors, such as the green of the trees in particular, has been vividly reproduced, suggesting how the work must have originally appeared.

Chimoto Hideshi, Associate Professor, Nara Women's University.

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