Economic Botany

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 87–97

An Unusual Xylotheque with Plant Illustrations from Early Meiji Japan

  • Toshiyuki Nagata
  • Ashley DuVal
  • Hans Walter Lack
  • George Loudon
  • Mark Nesbitt
  • Michaela Schmull
  • Peter R. Crane
Article

Abstract

An Unusual Xylotheque with Plant Illustrations from Early Meiji Japan. Two unusual wood collections, reported previously in the collections of the Botanical Museum at Berlin-Dahlem and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, take the form of framed plant illustrations painted on boards made from the wood of the species illustrated. We present new finds of very similar wood collections in the Economic Botany Collection of the Harvard University Herbaria, a private collection in the U.K. (Loudon collection), and at the Koishikawa Botanical Garden of the University of Tokyo. A stamp on the reverse of the boards links all five collections to Chikusai Kato, an artist working at Tokyo University (now the University of Tokyo) in early Meiji Japan, under the direction of the preeminent nineteenth century Japanese botanist Keisuke Ito. New evidence from contemporary historical accounts indicates that more than 100 boards were ordered in June 1878 by Hiroyuki Katō, the first president of Tokyo University, most likely to support the early teaching of Western-influenced botanical science in Japan. However, while the boards had clear value for teaching, especially about useful plants, their unusual fusion of Western and Japanese influences also made them desirable craft objects that were collected and given as gifts during the early Meiji era.

Key Words

Botanical illustration education Chikusai Kato Keisuke Ito Meiji Japan wood collections University of Tokyo 

明治初期に日本で作られた特異な植物図版について

 これまでベルリン・ダーレムの植物博物館とイギリス王立キュー植物園に知られていた植物図版は、枠付きの木製の板の上に描かれており、その板はその植物の材を用いられていることで大変特徴的である。最近、同様な植物図版がハーバート大学植物標本館、ロンドン個人コレクション(Loudon氏蔵)と東京大学附属小石川植物園にも見出された。裏面の篆刻印から、これらの植物図版は東京大学創立初期の1878年に当時の著名な植物学者伊藤圭介教授の指導の下に、そこで働いていた植物画家加藤竹斎によって描かれ、制作されたことが分かる。当時の資料などから新たに分かったことは、当初作成された100枚余の植物図版は初代東京大学総長(当時は総理といった)によって、近代的植物科学の教育手段として購入されたと推定される。しかしながら、これら図版は有用植物の教育手段として優れているが、同時に西洋と日本の画法の融合したユニークな図版であることから工芸品としてもみなされ、明治初期には収集されたり、また、贈答品としても用いられていたことが分かった。

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toshiyuki Nagata
    • 1
  • Ashley DuVal
    • 2
  • Hans Walter Lack
    • 3
  • George Loudon
    • 4
  • Mark Nesbitt
    • 5
  • Michaela Schmull
    • 6
  • Peter R. Crane
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Bioscience and Applied ChemistryHosei UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-DahlemFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.LondonUK
  5. 5.Economic Botany CollectionRoyal Botanic Gardens, KewRichmondUK
  6. 6.Harvard University HerbariaCambridgeUSA

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