Edo period creepy crawlies
December 20, 2006 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Japan's National Diet Library Gallery has been mentioned here before, but the Pink Tentacle blog came across some fantastic late Edo period illustrations in the NDL Gallery by Kurimoto Tanshu (栗本丹洲, 1756 - 1834). Apparently he was a doctor, but he seems to be better known for his hundreds of biological illustrations. Many are of sea creatures, but there are also quite a few other plants and animals. ranging from realistic renditions to bizarre creatures. A huge and varied collection, but all are equally fascinating.
posted by p3t3 (6 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty, pretty. Those bizarre creatures look like a scorpion fish or a frog fish and an oarfish.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:25 PM on December 20, 2006

Thank you, this is excellent.

The bonus for me is to be able to comprehend 50-80% of the text. This one says that among the small lizards, the purely red ones are very rare - only one or two among thousands, and they are slightly smaller than the normal ones. This one seems to say tribal people treasured the crab shells as wine cups. And this page about furry crab explicitly cites two Chinese regional encyclopedia.
posted by of strange foe at 8:10 PM on December 20, 2006

Also, maybe I should mention for those who didn't check the Pink Tentacle link above, but the NDL entries for these illustrations are divided among a few sub-galleries and may be hard to navigate. So for your browsing convenience (and copied from the PT post):

- Senchuufu: 275 pages of creepy crawlies (3 volumes)
- Tako-kurage-ika rui zumaki: 16 images of octopi, jellyfish and squid
- Igyozusan: 10 images of unusual fish (folding scroll)
- Gyofu: 51 images of stingrays and unusual fish
- Gyofu: 60 pages of fish (2 scrolls)
- Mamboukou: 18 images from a book on mambou (sunfish)
- Igyozusan/Seikaihyakurin: 60 images of fish (2 volumes)
- Hyakucho fuzanketsu: 5 images from a scroll of birds
- Karei zui: 38 images of flatfish (scroll)
- Choujuugyo shaseizu: 5 images of various animals (scrolls)
posted by p3t3 at 8:21 PM on December 20, 2006

and thanks of strange foe for those translated bits. i'm sure these are all a lot more interesting with the accompanying text; i know a few hundred kanji, but most of these passages are a bit out of my league.
posted by p3t3 at 8:33 PM on December 20, 2006

The kudos should actually go to the Armchair Aquarium site (don't forget the annexe) from whom Pink Tentacle found these oddities.

I've seen all of these before and in fact, have a bunch of recent finds saved on my desktop. I only mention that because, to me, the wonderful thing that has come to light of late is that the erstwhile impenetrable fortress known as the National Diet Library have updated their site with an easy-to-negotiate landing page (well, relatively easy - and this is only with respect to their 'nature' material)

Previously for the kanji-illiterates like myself, it was (and still is I suppose for much of the Library's holdings) like trying to crack a password to find this sort of stuff. I have spent hours there with copy and paste of idiograms into the search box looking for eccentric and wonderous illustrative trinkets. Good on you NDL!
posted by peacay at 10:18 PM on December 20, 2006

great stuff--thanks!
posted by amberglow at 10:13 AM on December 21, 2006

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