Jun 03, 2014 - Sale 2352

Sale 2352 - Lot 75

Price Realized: $ 93,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 90,000
THE KYOTO SCREEN (JAPAN.) [Kyoto as the imperial capital.] An unparalleled manuscript map of Kyoto with east at the top, in gold, ink, and colors on Japanese paper, mounted on a six-panel folding screen, approximately 5 1/2x12 1/2 feet fully extended, with enormous detail of the capital of imperial Japan as it was before the destruction of the Heian Palace Complex in 1227 AD, and extensive notation in kanbun; mounted on a later screen with silk border, lacquered wood frame, and old metal fixtures; areas of old inpainting, mainly around the map key, minor wear around the joints, screen backing on verso lifted up in one corner. Accompanied by a wood carrying box, worn but retaining metal hardware and leather loops, the lid is detached but present. [Japan, circa early 17th century]

Additional Details

a masterpiece of urban cartography. Screen maps from the early Edo period are exceptionally rare; the vast majority of such maps remain in Japan.

This map is apparently without precedent and contains a plethora of detail about Kyoto and its surroundings. Furthermore, the map shows the city as it looked centuries before 1600, in approximately the 10th or 11th century.

Kyoto was established as the capital of Japan in 794 AD. From roughly that time until the 13th century the city featured the large Heian Palace Complex at its northern end. This served as the seat of imperial power. The complex was destroyed by a fire in 1227 AD. The present map depicts the complex in extraordinary detail, going as far as to label individual trees within its confines.

The grid layout of the city is based on the regimented Jo-Bo system of urban planning, which the Japanese had adopted from China and used for the early development of Kyoto. The number and width of each street is noted. Suzaku Avenue is shown proceeding south from the palace to Rashomon Gate.

There is color-coded key in the lower left corner that differentiates buildings used by the imperial household, magistrates, Shinto and Buddhist clergy, military retainers, and commoners. Many buildings - most of those not owned by commoners - are individually labeled.

Cf., Kazutaka Unno, History of Cartography, Book 2, Volume 2, Chapter 11.