Printing

Updated: Mar 10, 2020 by Pradeep Gowda.

Bonmōkyō koshakuki” [Commentaries on Brahma’s Net Sutra] printed at the Saidaiji Temple, one of the “Seven Great Temples” of Nara, between 1302 & 1318. The press at Saidajii was established by Eison, the first abbot. An interesting feature of the Saidai-ji works printed on Eison’s instructions is that at least half of them, like this example, were bound in orihon (ie ‘accordion’) style. Eison’s use of orihon binding represents a break with the usual Nara tradition of scroll format. This Saidaiji-ban imprint has the seal in red of the renowned scholar, bibliophile and collector of Japanese books, Frank Hawley (1906 – 1961).

Gardner, in his “Centres of printing in Medieval Japan”, says: “At the Saidaiji, a monastery of the Risshū sect, a substantial number of works dealing with monastic rules and discipline were published under the direction of the abbot Eison (1201- 1290) and his disciple Ryōkan…”. “....noteworthy among these are commentaries on Bonmōkyō koshakki, written by Eison himself and published during his lifetime. Among Saidaiji publications, some were bound in orihon form, representing a breakaway from the conservative Nara tradition of books in roll form.”