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A Scroll of Secret Carving Methods
(MANUSCRIPT: Japanese cookery.) GYOCHO KIRIKATA [Ways to cut fish and birds]. c. 1793.
1016cm x 15.5cm. Manuscript scroll in three different colors: pink, light grey, and black ink with original brass jiku roller.
A remarkable discovery. The Gyocho Kirikata is a book of “secrets for initiation into the mysteries of the art of carving.” More than thirty-three feet in length, the carving instructions of this “secret scroll” were originally given to Ogasawara-Nyudo Nagatoki who then passed on the instructions by secretly handing them down to ten other people, each of whom is documented at the end of the scroll with this particular copy being completed in 1793. Ogasawara-Nyudo Nagatoki was the lord of Shinano, today known as the Nagano prefect. Born in 1514, he was from a family well-known for their knowledge of Samurai manners and etiquette. After suffering numerous defeats in battle, Nagatoki retired to teach archery and horsemanship and later died in 1583 under mysterious circumstances.
This beautiful samurai manuscript describes multiple ways to carve various fish and fowl including carp; snapper; flounder; bonito; catfish; shark; and octopus as well as pheasant; duck; goose; swan; crane; and hawk. Also provided are special views of certain meats upon their cutting boards accompanied by chop-sticks and a knife. Alongside these views is text indicating in what direction the animal is to face during carving. Usually, there is more than one carving method for each fish or fowl in order to cover both formal and informal meals as well as indications for specific ceremonial purposes (e.g. a meal before going off to war).
In fine condition. Special thanks to Yuki Ishimatsu, Head of Japanese Collections at the East Asian Library, University of California Berkeley, for his help in describing this manuscript.
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