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On Shigin 詩吟

From a question on the SCA Japanese Facebook page about early Japanese music, someone mentioned poetry being chanted. My answer:

Poetry was originally chanted or sung in an art called Shigin 詩吟. It started out with the Chinese poetry, but spread to Japanese styles like tanka. I don’t know a lot about it, but here is a video with a bit of explanation. If you search for “shigin” on YouTube, there are several modern performances. The practice dates back to before the Asuka period, but I’m not sure how much it changed over time. Certainly something to look into!

Here’s a performance from the 46th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 @ JCCCNC in San Francisco Japantown on April 13, 2013. There are several other examples on YouTube.

There are examples of Chinese poems with pitch notation from the Heian period. Again, I’m not sure when the practice spread to Japanese-style poetry, and I don’t know how much the practice was refined during the Edo period, and if pre-Edo Shigin was significantly different from what is practiced now. I would certainly be interested in learning more about it.

小鳥の歌 54

spring_apple_blossoms_john_everett_millais_1859

Blossoming orchard
Humble apple trees preening
For once in beauty
Welcoming soft spring rain like
An innocent girl in love

Link: orchard in blossom to blossoming orchard

I chose apple trees because they are commonly seen in the Midwest and when we lived in Iowa, we lived near an orchard. Kigo 季語 in Japanese poetry are words and phrases associated with seasons. They are often gathered in collections called saijiki 歳時記. However, because the climate where I live in Kansas is far different from that of Japan, I sometimes choose kigo that apply to what I see in my everyday life. The most common flowering trees that were used in medieval tanka were the plum (early spring) and the sakura (middle spring).

Apples actually were not widely cultivated in Japan until the Meiji period (1868-1912), although they are quite popular there now. Here is an interesting list about some Japanese fruits and when they were first cultivated there.

Due to the popularity of the haiku form of poetry, there are some saijiki lists online for English speakers. There is a good one heretranslated by William J. Higginson that focuses on Japanese kigo. There is also an interesting one here called the World Kigo Dictionary that has links to lists for kigo in other parts of the world. However, while they have some for North America, there doesn’t seem to be one specifically for the Midwest. (One for Oklahoma, though, and one for the Northern prairie–but from the descriptions I was reading, that sounds like Minnesota or the Dakotas? Not quite the same thing as here.) There are a number of other lists online as well.

However, while kigo developed out of tanka poetry, some of the traditions were established in the Edo period and are particular to haiku, so if you are writing tanka for SCA (medieval reenactment) purposes, double-check.

Painting by John Everett Millais 1859. (c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Pre-Edo Sashiko?

This is part of a thread on the SCA Japanese FB page. The original question was whether shibori or sashiko could be pre-Edo period. Shibori certainly was, although called by another name. I’ll do a separate post about that later, since shibori is an area I’m just starting to learn about.

However, I’ve been looking into sashiko. The problem documenting it is that it was a technique used by the poor, and the extant pre-1600 garments that exist are from the upper-class. What we do have is some examples of kesa (the surplice-like garment worn by Japanese Buddhist clergy), which were pieced. That technique existed. Most period paintings/drawings do not have a lot of detail on the poor. Some emaki have depictions of poor people, mainly in line drawings.

So with this lack of resources, you have to look into literature–for example, in a choka poem in the Man’yoshu by Yamanoue no Okura (660?-733?), a destitute man complains of wearing nothing but rags, “a sleeveless jacket not even stuffed with [cotton]” <–translation Steven Carter–I'd need to dig into the text to see the exact wording. While most poetry after Man'yoshu avoided the subject of poverty (until the 17th century poets revisited the subject), there are plenty of tales and writings that have some small bits of description. Padded garments require some supportive stitching, or else the padding eventually slips. Through literature, we can establish that garments were patched.

The decorative sashiko (blue on white) is almost certainly Edo-period, though. But using sashiko stitching as a means of insulation–that might be plausible.

Mistress Saionji no Hana (OL, West Kingdom) posted a link to a discussion on the Tousando Board from some years ago, where there was a discussion about an 8th century example of the kind of stitching used in sashiko. I happen to have a copy of the book mentioned, Jodai-Gire: 7th and 8th Century Textiles in Japan from the Shoso-In and Horyu-Ji by Kaneo Matsumoto and yes, there are a few examples of what looks like sashiko-like stitching. For mending purposes, however, not decorative.

Waka Poetry Site, plus three new books!

I was so pleased to come across the Waka Poetry site again after several years. It has changed a lot and has a lot to look at!

Doctor Thomas McAuley of the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield (UK) runs the site. He announced the publication of 3 Japanese poetry e-books today for Kindle. They are:

McAuley, Thomas E. (2016) An Anthology of Classical Japanese Poetry: From Man’yōshū to Shinkokinshū (ASIN: B01MTUKF9K)

McAuley, Thomas E. (2016) Sanekata-shū: The Personal Poetry Collection of Fujiwara no Sanekata (ASIN: B01N47WSOL)

McAuley, Thomas E. (2016) Two Hundred Poem Sequences: The Entō Onhyakushu and Keiun Hyakushu (ASIN: B01N9BKS6A)

I gave them a look-over. Simply and nicely done. VERY reasonable prices compared to what poetry translations usually cost! The Anthology is $8, Sanekata Shu is $3, and Two Hundred-Poem Sequences is $2.99. Considering what Japanese literature books tend to sell for (unless you find them used, and even then! It’s a small market, after all…), these are an incredible bargain!

I was especially excited to see the Two Hundred-Poem Sequences book, since I am researching that topic now, and am trying my hand at a hundred-poem sequence myself.

On Matawa 真綿

A question was asked on the SCA Japanese Facebook page: “Padded Uchigi. Is this just, like, quilted? fluffy? Essentially really thick interfacing? I assume they used silk, but I can’t envision what the final product looks like.”

My answer:

真綿 (mawata) is low-quality silk, nowadays mostly used for making handkerchiefs, but was used for padding on winter garments. This page shows what it looks like: http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/html/mulberry_silk.html

“Was it just stuffed in or how did it stay in place?”

John Marshall actually has a chapter about it in his _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_, where he discusses the traditional method and then a more modern method better suited towards modern washing using easier to find material (since his book IS about modern clothes). Mawata is sticky, so you basically layer it in place. This webpage shows the process for silk handkerchiefs–it is just on a larger scale for garments. http://www.wormspit.com/mawatas.htm

Marshall, John. Make Your Own Japanese Clothes (Tokyo; Kodansha International, 2013 reprint) 978-1568364933. Originally printed in 1988, ISBN 087011865X.

Yamabushi and Sōhei Headwear

This is from the SCA Japanese Facebook community–I was answering a question regarding yamabushi and their headwear. The original question was whether yamabushi would wear the same kind of cowl that sōhei wore into battle, and also if anyone could recommend books/sources on the subject of yamabushi.

[A quick definition: yamabushi 山伏 were/are mountain ascetics, usually solitary monks who adhered to Shugendō, esoteric Buddhism which mostly descends from the Shingon sect, but had other influences as well, including Tendai Buddhism, Shinto, and Daoism. Sōhei 僧兵 were warrior monks that were usually attached to a monastery. Yamabushi would sometimes fight, but they were mostly loners and fought in loose confederations, whereas sōhei were groups attached to monasteries.]

The Teeth and Claws of Buddha by Mikael S. Adolphson is the most thorough book I’ve found on the subject of warrior monks. Osprey has done two books on them, one on the Yamabushi and one on the monasteries. Interesting general reading, but start with Adolphson’s book if you want to go deeper into the subject.

What the sōhei wore on their heads was called kato no kesa 裏頭(か[くわ]とう)の袈裟(けさ), and they were kesa (usually worn on the chest) worn on the head–that is technically what kato no kesa means. The yamabushi would sometimes wear kato no kesa, but the headdress more identified with them is the tokin 頭襟, which looks kinda like a small black box. The Japanese Costume museum has it larger and covering the head, but I’ve seen pictures of it being smaller and worn near the forehead, as it is today. Here is a site that has some description of yamabushi clothing. It starts with doctrine, scroll down to see the parts about clothing.

As to whether a tokin would be worn in battle, I am not sure. The emaki depictions that I’ve seen of yamabushi have often just been of them traveling, and they did wear the tokin at those times.

Here’s a picture of a yamabushi from the Japanese Costume museum. Note the hat:

yamabushi_jp_costume_museum
from the Japanese Costume Museum

Now compare to this modern Yamabushi–these are the small tokin I’ve seen in emaki scrolls:

>yamabushi_tokin
from the now-defunct homepage of Kannonji Temple, Shiga Prefecture. Photographer unknown.

And this is an example of the kato no kesa that sōhei wore:

Benkei
From the Taiga Drama, Yoshitsune, scanned by me.

Update and Correction: when questioned by HE Master Ii Katsumori regarding the modern Yamabushi (who I first identified as a reenactor), I dug deeper to find the origin of the picture, which had been uploaded to Pinterest. The picture is from a now-defunct Japanese webpage (the company hosting it closed, but the Wayback Machine caught it) here: http://homepage3.nifty.com/huayan/temple/event06.htm. I can’t link directly to the Wayback Machine’s page, but that’s the original (defunct) page. Just plug that in the Wayback Machine to see the text (not pictures) of the original.

This used to be the homepage of Kannonji temple. Some more digging showed that the man in the picture is Professor Yoshida Eirie, a professor of Buddhism at Hanazono University in Kyoto and a priest of Kumano Shugendo. Also a martial-arts master of Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho Ryu. So yes, he IS a modern Yamabushi.

Cornificia Project

I signed up to do an outfit for a project that one of my fellow Calontiri, Cecilia, is doing: she is creating photographic portraits recreating the illuminations in Richard Tessard’s version of Boccaccio’s “The Lives of Famous Women”. You can see the pictures on this Pinterest page. My first two choices were already taken, but I settled on the portrait of Cornificia, who was a 1st century BC Roman poet. The dress is plain compared to some of the others, so I think I can manage it, plus with that pose and the cloak, it won’t matter that I’m so fat.

Boccaccio writes of her that “She was equal in glory to her brother Cornificius, who was a much renowned poet at that time. Not satisfied with excelling in such a splendid art, inspired by the sacred Muses, she rejected the distaff and turned her hands, skilled in the use of the quill, to writing Heliconian verses… With her genius and labor she rose above her sex, and with her splendid work she acquired a perpetual fame.” Her work is lost, but St. Jerome mentions her in his chronicles in 4th century AD, so her work was good enough that it was being read 400 years after her death, and by St. Jerome to boot, who was not an easy man to please.

Here is the picture she will be recreating:

Cornificia

Although color substitutions are being allowed, I think I already have linen in both that blue and the light purple. The tight sleeves look like those of a Gothic fitted dress, but those gathers in front resemble a houppelande? But those tend to have big or hanging sleeves and women mostly wear those belted. This dress is NOT belted. It might be some kind of loose gown?

There’s a similar dress on the Blessed Virgin Mary in The Calvary Triptych by Hugo van der Goes (@1468). Sleeves are a bit different, but the shape of the dress looks similar.

hugo_van_der_goes_1469

Here’s another example by van der Goes from the Monforte alterpiece. He puts the Virgin Mary in this same style of dress consistently.

vandergoes_wijzen_monforte_grt

So anyway, have some research to do. I’m going to try to finish this outfit by December, 2017. I will be making the dress, underdress, veil, and shoes (unseen in picture).

Zukin again

Battling con crud from Worldcon this week. I’m supposed to be doing a translation for someone, but my brain is so fuzzy that I haven’t been able to concentrate, so I’ve been sewing on part of my Queen’s Prize Project, which is on zukin (hoods). I’m doing the sode-zukin (which is the wimple kind of zukin that I did for that paper I wrote years ago), the zukin from The Maple Viewers (and yes, what those ladies are wearing ARE zukin–I’ve found modern variants), a mousu (which looks like a sode-zukin, but are larger) and if I have time, a kato no kesa 裏頭(か[くわ]とう)の袈裟(けさ), which is what the sohei warrior monks wore. The kanji translates as “a kesa worn on the head”. Kesa is a Buddhist religious garment usually worn over kimono as a kind of apron.

zukin

Sode-zukin example from the NHK taiga drama Fuurin Kazan.

I’m really excited about this last one–I kept wondering why I would sometimes see seam lines on what usually looks like just a rectangular white cloth tied around the head. It’s a kesa! And kesa are usually sewn with what is called the rice-field pattern. And THAT explains the seam lines!

Benkei

From the NHK Drama Yoshitsune, the Warrior Monk Benkei is wearing a Kato no Kesa.

The only thing is I will have to sew like the wind to get the thing done in time and with the pattern, that’s going to be tricky. Plus I still have to write up the information, in a simple format since this is not a literary entry. But I still have almost 3 weeks. I might skip the mousu (which I don’t have as much info about, just an entry from the Japanese Costume Museum) and concentrate on the kato no kesa instead.

Ingibiorg, who also does Japanese poetry here in Calontir, did a poetry exchange with me this summer and asked if she could enter it as an A&S entry for Cattle Raids (an event up in Lincoln, Nebraska where she lives). We each wrote up explanations about our respective poems and how we took elements from each other in the exchange. I think she was going to present the poems on some marbled paper or something? Anyway, no word as to how that turned out. I hope she got some good feedback, since most people tend to ignore poetry entries.

I totally should be sleeping right now

God bless obsessive manga artists who blog about their work and how they are going to draw medieval Buddhist outfits by making little drawings showing how said outfits are put together. Sure, it’s a tertiary source, but given the lack of primary and secondary sources in English (except photos of emaki, paintings, and statues, and some spare descriptions on the Japanese Costume Museum site), I’ll take it. Got a lot of translation to do, though. (PS, I will share the source later once I get some things translated, including the artist/writer’s name, so I can properly credit). (PSS: Won’t be this week, cause Worldcon.) Oh, and those cloth hats the ladies are wearing in The Maple Viewers? So totally zukin. Like I said. *vindication feels like victory*

Tanabata Terror!

Noooo! I was just going to write a little article for the local Shire of Cum an Iolair newsletter about the Tanabata festival. I figured I’d mention a few period celebratory practices, and of course I want to cite where I found them. Problem is…Tanabata was POPULAR. I’ve found mentions in at least 5 diaries, plus it looks like Tale of Genji has something, and I’m betting Eiga Monogatari does also, but of course it doesn’t have a subject index. Found an article on JSTOR arguing that Tanabata came to Japan _before_ the commonly-stated date of 755 AD, based on the number of poems in the Man’yoshu (the last of which is dated 759 AD). And poems! Lots of poems. Man’yoshu, Kokinshu, probably more. Lady Daibu’s diary has an entire chapter of poems devoted to Tanabata (51 poems!) And there’s a Noh play on the subject, too.

This is just supposed to be a little write-up about the festival. I think I’ll keep it simple, but there’s enough here for a decent research paper.