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Toropygina Maria, The Arisugawa Collection: History and Book Repertoire Печать E-mail
17.11.2012 г.
Maria V. Toropygina
Senior Research Fellow
The Institute of Oriental Studies

St.Petersburg and Moscow libraries and museums possess a number of collections of old Japanese books and manuscripts. In Moscow Japanese manuscripts, wood-block editions and old printed books could be found at Russian State Library, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, State Museum of Oriental Art. In late 1990-s and early 2000-s these collections were described in a number of Catalogues by Peter F. Kornicki, Beata Voronova and Ainura Yusupova[1].

In St.Petersburg the richest is the collection of Asiatic Museum (now the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences). It is described 1964-1971 by Olga Petrova, Vladislav Goreglyad, Galina Ivanova and Zinoviy Khanin[2]. The Arisugawa Collection is a traditional title for the Japanese wood-block prints and manuscripts donated to St.Petersburg University by the Japanese Prince Arisugawa no Miya (1835-1895). The Catalogue of this acquisition was published in 1998[3]. The Arisugawa Collection is a part of old Japanese books stock of the Library of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies of St.Petersburg University.

130 years ago, in 1882, Japanese Prince Arisugawa no Miya Taruhito Shinno (1835-1895) visited Russia. Arisugawa no Miya is a member of the imperial family (adopted son of Emperor Ninko, 1800-1846, r. 1817-46), he played very active role in public affairs in the second half of the 19th century. Before the Meiji Restoration of 1868 he supported the anti-Shogunate movement aimed to restore the Emperor's power. He was appointed president (sosai) when the first administrative organs of the early Meiji government were established. Arisugawa no Miya commanded Imperial Army against the Shogunat in the Boshin Civil War (1868-69). As a commander of the Imperial troops the Prince moved to Edo, where he seized Edo Castle and then proceeded to the Tohoku region to put down there his headquarters. In 1875 he was named to the Genroin (the Chamber of Elders), and the next year became President of the Genroin. Arisugawa no Miya again led the central government army against the forces of Saigo Takamori (1828-1877) during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. He was given the honorary rank of general in 1878. In 1882-83 the Prince Arisugawa made journey through the United States and Europe. In 1889 he was appointed chief of the general staff of the army.

The Prince's visit to Russia took place from September 3 till September 17, 1882. He visited St.Petersburg, Moscow, and on September 4 held a meeting with the Russian tzar Alexander III in Petershoff.

When staying in St.Petersburg the Prince learned that the Japanese language courses were being held at St.Petersburg University. In 1882 university courses of Japanese were unusual. Wanting to promote the study the Prince gave a generous gift for the University: the next year University obtained a collection of books, which is called now the Arisugawa Collection.

Japanese language course was taught at St.Petersburg University since 1870 (the Japanese chair was established in 1898). The first teacher was a Japanese, Tachibana no Kosai (1821-1885), known in Russia under his baptismal name of Vladimir Yamatov. Afterwards, the language courses at the University were held by two other Japanese, Nishi Tokujiro (1847-1912) and Ando Kensuke (1854-1924)[4]. It was Ando Kensuke who taught Japanese in 1881-1884 and he was the person who let the Prince know about the Japanese courses at the University.

The collection of books and manuscripts was dispatched from Japan in May of 1883, and in September arrived in St.Petersburg.

At the University Council meeting on October 31, the Prince was elected an Honourable Member of the St.Petersburg University.

Information about the donation was presented to the public in the annual University report for 1883 (delivered on February 8, 1884 by the Professor Y.V.Sokhotsky)[5]. The paper mentions 3465 volumes for the collection. Professor Sokhotsky announced the Prince Arisugawa's desire to promote the studies of Japanese language in Russia, as well as studies of Russian language in Japan to bring mutual profits for friendly relationships between both nations.

Acquisition of the collection brought forth the urgent problem of its description. Japanese materials in the University were very scarce, and no qualified keepers were on the staff at the Library. Hence Ando Kensuke was invited by the University Council (the Council Instruction No. 1119 of September 30, 1883) to compile an inventory list of the new collection.

Since 1877 the University Council had regularly published the annual inventory list of all new acquisitions - books, periodicals, manuscripts, etc. But later on, primarily because of financial reasons, the earlier practice was changed and the lists now appeared only once in several years. The description of the Arisugawa Collection was placed in the seventh volume of the Inventory, published in 1893[6], where one can find the titles of books, purchased by or donated to the University for the period from January 1, 1885 up to December 31, 1890. The Preface to the description, written by Alexander Kreisberg, the librarian, outlined the history of the Arisugawa Collection. The total number of volumes was indicated as 4149 (the number exceeds the total number of volumes mentioned by Y.V.Sokhotsky, perhaps it was the total number of Japanese books at the University library in 1893).

The inventory list of the collection includes 223 items[7]. There exists an indication that the list made by Ando Kensuke included only the items 1-177, and it is completely unclear who described items 178-223.

For a long time the Arisugawa Collection was not kept separately from other Japanese books, and the Chinese-language materials of the collection were mixed with the Chinese books and manuscripts, so this inventory list is the only guideline for sorting out the original content of the Prince's collection.

In 1960 the card-catalogue of old Japanese books was accomplished by R.G.Karlina (1910-1968). Raisa Karlina was a specialist in Japanese literature and also had experience in library work. Unfortunately, the lack of time and reference literature prevented her from completing the whole job. The manuscript part of the collection has not been described, and the Arisugawa Collection was not separated from the other acquisitions.

The task of the separation of the Arisugawa Collection from the rest part of library acquisitions was done by A.A.Babintsev (1920-1983) in 1981. Andrei Babintsev taught Japanese language at the University and was an enthusiast of the Arisugawa Collection.

The catalogue of the Arisugawa Collection includes 247 book titles. The collection contains both very new materials, published in Meiji time, and old materials, dated back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

The manuscripts make a list of 43 items with some very rare examples. Among those manuscripts poetry anthologies "Ichiyosho" and "Owari meisho kashu", book on topography "Kinjobunkenroku" with 39 maps and illustrations in color; 6 volumes of annals "Bishamondoki". 17th century wood-block editions are represented with such books as: illustrated edition of classical work "Eiga monogatari" published in 1656; illustrated edition of early uta-monogatari "Yamato monogatari" published in 1657; poetry anthology "Juntokuingyoshu shikin wakaso" published in 1666; two volumes of "Ise monogatari sho" published in 1674; illustrated 12-volumed edition of gunki "Heike monogatari" published in 1682; "Hachidaishusho" - publication of eight first official poetical anthologies with commentaries done by Kitamura Kigin (1624-1705) published in 1682.

The works by scholars of Kokugaku - school of Japanese philology and philosophy of Tokugawa period - are widely presented both among manuscript and among printed books.

One part of the Arisugawa Collectio is school text-books of the first years of Meiji era. Those books were sent in numerous copies (up to twenty), which means that donator thought that those books could be use as Japanese language manuals in auditorium. Nowerdays these materials became important historical source.

The most distinctive feature of the Arisugawa Collection is its specific content. The collection was donated with a concrete purpose to help foreign students to get acquainted with Japan. The Arisugawa Collection provides a wide panorama of the Japanese culture. It includes materials on Japanese geography, history, literature (both primary sources and secondary works), diaries, dictionaries, biographies of warriors, works dealing with rituals, garments, music, linguistics, morality. The Arisugawa Collection is an outstanding source of information of what were the cultural dominants that Meiji Japan wanted to introduce to the outer world.

[1] Peter Kornicki. Catalogue of the Early Japanese books in the Russian State Library. Vol.1-2. Moscow, 1999, 2004; B.Voronova, P.Kornicki, A.Yusupova. Catalogue of Early Japanese Books. Moscow: Pashkov Dom, 2001.

[2] Описание японских рукописей, ксилографов и старопечатных книг. Вып.1-6. М.: «Восточная литература»,1964-1971. (О.П.Петрова, В.Н.Горегляд, Г.Д.Иванова, З.Я.Ханин).

[3] Maria V.Toropygina. Descriptive Catalogue of Japanese Books in St.Petersburg University. A Catalogue of the Arisugawa Collection. Tokyo: Benseisha, 1998. The pictures in the Catalogue are done by Yamazaki Makoto, as well as some very useful notes about the book repertoire.

[4] Биографический словарь профессоров и преподавателей Императорского С.Петербургского Университета за истекшую третью четверть века его существования, 1864-1894. Т.1-2. СПб., 1896-1898.

[5] Отчет о состоянии С.-Петербургского Университета и деятельности его ученого сословия за 1883 год, читанный на акте 8-го февраля 1884 года Ординарным Профессором Ю.В.Сохоцким. С.-Петербург, 1884.

[6] Инвентарь библиотеки Университета № 7 за 1885-1890. С.-Петербург, 1893.

[7] The large difference between the number of book titles and the number of volumes arises because old Japanese books and manuscripts were traditionally multivolumed.
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