國寶 Kokuho. National Treasures (Sculptures in the Imperial Museum at Nara) [W/ 123 PHOTOGRAVURE PLATES]
[Nara]: 奈良帝室博物館 (Nara Imperial Museum), 1910-1917. First edition. Hardcover. Quarto. Original decorative green silk portfolio with gilt-lettered label on the front cover and bone fasteners. Interior flaps speckled in gilt. Housed inside are 123 (of 125?) loose plates of beautifully printed b/w colotype images showing acclaimed and revered works of Japanese Buddhist sculpture, located in various temples around the Nara area. This extremely scarce collection is rare in a its portfolio.
Each of these plates was sold individually to tourists visiting Nara, and was published by the Nara Imperial Museum (now the Nara National Museum). It is unclear weather the accompanying portfolio is custom, or whether it was sold to tourists who bought a large number of plates. All those included here were all printed between 1910 and 1917 (Meiji 43 - Taisho 6), each protected by a tissue guard, with text captions in English and Japanese, providing relevant information including title, artist (when known), dates, dimensions, materials and location. 102 of 125 known numbered plates are present. The 23 missing plate numbers are #5, 13, 15-16, 20, 33, 39-42, 46-48, 50, 60, 62-67, 69 and 70. In addition to this, curiously included are 21 un-numbered plates, which may account for most of the total missing numbered plates. OCLC records from a select few international institutions record a total plate count of 125, without additional specific information, so the nature of these un-numbered plates as they relate to the others cannot be sure.
Many of these works are among the most famous and influential of Japanese Buddhist artwork, and the plates provide an invaluable visual record of the masterpieces held in the temples of the historic capital of Japan and its UNESCO world heritage site known collectively as Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Text in Japanese and English.
Portfolio with some rubbing to hinges and extremities. Almost all plates clean and vibrant, with only the most minor instances of water stains to a very few of the tissue guards. Tissue guard detached from plate #31, with a few small tears, and the tissue guards detached from #57-59. Portfolio in good+, interior and plates all in near fine condition overall. g+ to near fine. Item #51802
Title on the cover of the portfolio is "Nara" in English, although there is no official title plate for the collection.