Banner Image Source Original image held by the Harvard-Yenching Library
of the Harvard College Library, Harvard University
Current Issue

December 2022

About the cover

Among the many treasures of the Harvard-Yenching Library is Bruno Petzold’s collection of about five hundred scrolls, mostly on Buddhist themes. This issue’s cover illustration comes from one of them, untitled but catalogued as Yōsan shinzō 養蚕神像, an “image of a sericulture deity.”1

The painter, Fujii Sodō 藤井蘇堂 (1814–1890), indulged his passion for the arts while running his family’s oil and soy sauce business in the western Japanese city of Fukuyama 福山. He enjoyed moderate local fame as a landscape painter and calligrapher, but the origins of this work are unknown.2 Sodō’s obscurity makes the work representative of the collection, for “Bruno Petzold was not an art collector in the usual sense. Aesthetic excellence, famous artists, antiquity, rarity—these qualities were not his criteria. The great majority of the pictures in the collection are unsigned; others bear signatures of artists whose names have faded from history.”3

Petzold (1873–1949) was born in Breslau, Prussia, now the Polish city of Wrocław. He worked as a journalist in Paris, London, and China before traveling to Japan in 1910, where he ended up remaining for the rest of his life. He taught German at various institutions, including the prestigious First Higher School in Tokyo, while at the same time developing a profound interest in Buddhism—so profound, indeed, that he took the tonsure as a Tendai 天台 priest. Petzold published widely on Buddhist topics in German, French, and English and acquired a library of around ten thousand items, comprising manuscripts, woodblock-printed books, and modern volumes. After his death, his heirs sold off the library, with the result that parts of it are held at the National Library of Australia, Kokugakuin University Library, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. The bulk, however, is at the Harvard-Yenching Library, which holds about six thousand books in addition to the scrolls.

The painting has no accompanying text other than the artist’s signature, but the female figure signals her connection to sericulture with the mulberry branch in her hand. I might leave my description at that. Silk production expanded rapidly in Japan after the opening of the first treaty ports in 1859, and sericulturalists—overwhelmingly rural women—called on countless deities for help in protecting their voracious silkworms from frost, hail, and other calamities on the journey to pupation. For all we know, Sodō had no specific deity in mind when he took up his brush. Nonetheless, let us consider two prominent sericulture deities: one whose fame was mostly limited to important silk-producing districts in the hinterland of Tokyo and another who went viral after a prominent influencer wrote about her.

Konjikihime 金色姫 is associated with a trio of shrines in Ibaraki Prefecture: Kodama 蚕霊 Shrine in Kamisu 神栖, Kogai 蚕養 Shrine in Hitachi 日立, and mostly importantly, Kokage 蚕影 Shrine in Tsukuba つくば. Her story begins with her birth as an Indian princess, followed by a series of near-death experiences at the hands of a vindictive stepmother and a sea voyage to the Pacific cove of Toyoura 豊浦 in a “hollow boat” (utsubobune 靭船) hewed from a mulberry tree. A fisher and his wife rescued the princess, but she died not long afterward. In a pair of dream visions, she revealed to her rescuers the secret of sericulture by filling her own grave with silkworms that eagerly devoured the mulberry leaves proffered by the couple.4

Konjikihime’s more famous divine colleague is Kinugasa Myōjin 衣襲明神, who is associated with a Shingon 真言 temple, Hoshipukudera 星福寺, located near the Kodama Shrine in Kamisu. In 1827, the renowned writer Kyokutei Bakin 曲亭馬琴 (1767–1848) contributed [End Page viii] text to a woodblock print of the deity issued by the prominent publisher Tsuruya Kiemon 鶴屋喜右衛門 (fl. mid-nineteenth century). The combination of Bakin’s fame and Tsuruya’s commercial reach launched Kinugasa Myōjin to sericultural stardom. The rapid spread of silk production during the latter part of the nineteenth century further popularized both the deity and her image as a woman in archaic Chinese-style clothing holding a mulberry branch in one hand and a silkworm egg card in the other, with silk cocoons strewn about her feet. She looks nothing like the deity portrayed in Sodō’s painting; but take away the sericultural paraphernalia and she looks uncannily like another of Bakin’s subjects—a princess in a hollow boat who supposedly landed on the Pacific coast of modern-day Ibaraki in 1803.5 That princess was not Konjikihime, but the interplay of local belief and commerce helped to create an intriguing mash-up of the two.6HJAS thanks the Harvard-Yenching Library for the use of the image.

1. The Harvard-Yenching Library adopted the titles applied to the scrolls in a catalogue compiled by a team of Japanese researchers. For this image, see no. 341 in Hābādo daigaku Enkei toshokan shozō Burūno Petsōrudo kyūzō shiryō (jikusō, kansusō) mokuroku ハーバード大学燕京図書館所蔵ブルーノ・ ペツォールド旧蔵資料 (軸装 ・ 巻子装) 目録, ed. Annaka Naofumi 安中尚史 (Tokyo: Nichirenshū, 2011), p. 172.

2. See the short biography on the website of his high school alumni association (Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture): “Fujii Sodō,” Seishikan dōsōkai 誠之館同窓会, last modified February 28, 2015, (access moved behind login by August 2023—Ed.).

3. John Rosenfield and Fumiko Cranston, “The Bruno Petzold Collection of Buddhist and Shinto Scrolls,” in Treasures of the Yenching: Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Harvard-Yenching Library, ed. Patrick Hanan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University, 2003), p. 221.

4. The legend was popularized by Uegaki Morikuni 上垣守国, Yōsan hiroku 養蚕秘録, 3 vols. (Kyoto: Suharaya Heizaemon, 1803); No. 000007326516, Other Rare Books and Old Materials, National Diet Library 国立国会図書館, For a brief retelling in modern Japanese, see “Konjikihime densetsu” 金色姫伝説, Ibaraki no minwa web ākaibu 茨城の民話 Web アーカイブ, accessed May 2, 2023,

5. See David L. Howell, “The Strange Case of the Castaway Princess and Other Stories of Japan in the Pacific,” in Oceanic Japan: The Archipelago in Pacific and Global History, ed. Stefan Huebner, Nadin Heé, Ian J. Miller, and William M. Tsutsui (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming).

6. See Hayashi Michiyoshi 林道義, “Aru megami no keifu: Kinugasa myōjin to den Kodama-gun Yōsan anzenshin kakejiku ni tsuite” ある女神の系譜: 衣襲明神と伝児玉郡『養蚕安全神』掛軸について, in 21-seiki no hakubutsugaku, kōkogaku 21 世紀の博物館学・考古学, ed. Aoki Yutaka sensei koki kinen hakkijinkai 青木豊先生古希記念発起人会 (Tokyo: Yūzankaku, 2021), pp. 494–504.

Fujii Sodō, Yōsan shinzō [nineteenth century], hanging scroll, color drawing on silk, 102.6 × 35.6 cm; No. 013000789, Box 56, Bruno Petzold Collection, Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Image courtesy of Harvard-Yenching Library.

Editorial Preface & In Memoriam

Editorial Preface


The Rise of Tiba 題跋 as a Literary Genre in Song China

Chen Liu

Why did tiba colophons, whose raison d’être depended on being attached to target subjects as addenda, effectively survive as independent texts compiled in literary collections? By tracing the rise of the tiba genre from the mid-eleventh century, I delineate how Northern Song literati explored tiba as a new discursive space to critically engage with material objects, capture group dynamics among connoisseurs, and offer evaluative assessments on the various topics of tiba. The stature of tiba transformed through the twelfth century, when they were compiled into literary collections as stand-alone texts, gradually acquiring sociocultural connotations and status comparable to those of established formal genres. I argue that this process of decontextualizing and recontextualizing proved essential to the rise of tiba during the Song and their popularity during the following centuries.

摘要 (中文)


Riding Modern Waves

Sea Bathing for Health in Meiji Japan

Ellen Gardner Nakamura

During the late nineteenth century, leading Japanese doctors promoted therapeutic sea bathing as a means of achieving good health and bodily strength. Influenced by European medical discourses, they advocated the practice as creating the conditions of “hygienic modernity” and the healthy, modern bodies that Japan needed. Ordinary people also embraced sea bathing in ways that drew on their experiences of traditional hot-springs resorts as well as fulfilling newer, modern desires to escape the pressures of everyday life. I chart the social history of sea bathing culture in the Meiji period to show how medical discourses of hygienic modernity were disseminated, popularized, and ultimately transformed. This important case study illustrates the interconnections and tensions between the state-sponsored application of hygienic modernity and popular ideas about preventative medicine, leisure, and pleasure in nineteenth-century East Asia.

摘要 (日本語)

明治期、日本の医学者が熱心に海水浴を健康法として勧めた。ヨーロッパの 思想を受けて国民の体力を向上させる目的であった。その結果、海水浴が広まった が、健康よりレジャーと娯楽に変化していった。本研究は海水浴を例として養生と衛 生の関係を考察する。

Unearthing Practice

Networked Authenticity and Sutra Interment

Charlotte Eubanks

In this article, I conduct a case study of sutra-interment rituals conducted at Buzōji in northwestern Kyushu. Placing twelfth-century practices of sutra burial into creative dialogue with twentieth-century practices of sutra excavation, I propose a model of “networked authenticity.” Thinking about authenticity as networked—distributed across several interconnected nodes—rather than as generated from any single point provides a way of valuing devotional attention as sincere and meaningful, even when aspects of specific instances of devotion may be imperfect. This model opens a way to evaluate the efficacy of imagined traditions, rotted manuscripts, looted sites, and apocryphal texts by recognizing them as part of a larger, interconnected web whose strands may span centuries. I show that sacred texts are products of social negotiation around meaning and authenticity, not the sources of it.

摘要 (日本語)

本稿では 12 世紀と 20 ・ 21 世紀武蔵寺経塚と写経埋納法会をケーススタディとして、信仰的な「信憑性」の構造を考察する。結論としては、信憑性の源流は一つ (例えば経典) ではなくて、却っていくらの要素、つまりネットワークで組み立てされる。

Review essays

Local and Borderland Spaces in Early China

D. Jonathan Felt

Book reviews

The Chinese Dreamscape, 300 BCE–800 CE, by Robert Ford Company

Antje Richter

The Power of the Brush: Epistolary Practices in Chosŏn Korea, by Hwisang Cho

Si Nae Park

Gender Politics at Home and Abroad: Protestant Modernity in Colonial-Era Korea, by Hyaeweol Choi

Don Baker

Citizens of Beauty: Drawing Democratic Dreams in Republican China, by Louise Edwards

Xiaorong Li

Rome, China, and the Barbarians: Ethnographic Traditions and the Transformation of Empires, by Randolph B. Ford

Albert E. Dien

Utopian Ruins: A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era, by Jie Li

Yu Zhang

Fir and Empire: The Transformation of Forests in Early Modern China, by Ian M. Miller, and: Timber and Forestry in Qing China: Sustaining the Market, by Meng Zhang

Jack Patrick Hayes

Pleasure in Profit: Popular Prose in Seventeenth-Century Japan, by Laura Moretti

Robert Goree

The Korean Vernacular Story: Telling Tales of Contemporary Chosŏn in Sinographic Writing, by Si Nae Park

Suyoung Son

Chinese Buddhism: A Thematic History, by Chün-fang Yü

Beverley Foulks McGuire