Thursday, February 26, 2009

Of Burial Figurines


A couple weeks ago I wrote in a post that I couldn’t find an appropriate translation for the expression 俑をつくる, which appears in Ishikawa Jun’s essay “On the Conceptual Methods of the People of Edo.” Fortunately, Katō Kōichi over at Horagai and Matt Treyvaud of No-Sword were kind enough to help out. Mr. Katō writes:
「作俑」ですが、手元の漢和辞典に次のようにあります。

1 草木などで人を象った副葬品を作ること。
孔子はこの風習が殉死をまねいたと批判(「礼記」檀弓下、「孟子」梁惠王上)。
2 そこから転じて、悪い前例を作ること。

And from Matt:
I'm not going to touch that Chinese (there's gotta be someone on campus who specializes and can help you out), but I think 佣 is a typo/alternate spelling of 俑. 俑 is also a kind of figurine, specifically the kind that got buried with rulers, and 俑を作る means "put a bad process in motion" (because eventually that practice led to people being killed as well).

閉口後来客、含陰先達儒-- this is actually a I Ching scholar/Confucianist exchange. The full quote from is (taken from this online edition of the kiyushoran):

『十 訓抄』に、「漏剋博士季親は周易博士にて、其道に覚ありけれど、風月の方にうとかりけり。或文亭の連句の座にのぞみ、沈思しけるを、其中に宗徒の儒者有け るが、是をあなどりけるにや、閉口後来客といひたりける。言下に季親、含陰先達儒とぞ付たりける。にがりていふことなかりけり」。

Oh snap!

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