Nihon Shoki (An ancient history of Japan)


Nihon Shoki (An ancient history of Japan)

calligraphy / Nara

Heian period, 9th century

Handscroll, ink on paper

H 28.0, L 566.0



The thirty volumes of the Chronicles of Japan (J. Nihon shoki), completed in 720 (Yōrō 4), comprise Japan’s oldest imperially commissioned historical document. Recorded chronologically in classical Chinese (J. kanbun) are events from the mythical age of the gods (J. jindai) through the eighth month of the eleventh reign year of Empress Jitō (645-702, r. 686-697) in 697.
Since explications of the Chronicles of Japan were a vital part of the life of the imperial court, many copies were produced. There are about ten extant early editions, which are generally classified into two categories—editions that were either passed down in or related to the Urabe family and those that were not. Examples of the first type include the Kanekata edition in the Kyoto National Museum, transcribed in 1286 (Kōan 9), and the Kanenatsu edition in the collection of Tenri University Library, dating from 1303 (Kengen 2), both of which chronicle the Age of the Gods. Of the second type include this ninth-century work from the Nara National Museum

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