Reports on Conferences and Publications by Year

March 18, 2016

Illustrated Catalogue of Shinie
Held by the National Museum of Ethnology (Leiden) and the National Museum of Japanese History

Date of Publication: 18 March 2016

Edited by: National Museum of Japanese History

This is a catalogue of shinie and related materials held by the National Museum of Ethnology (Leiden; below, NME) and the National Museum of Japanese History (below, NMJH). (Only some of the latter institution’s holdings are included; see below.)

Shinie are color ukiyoe that were printed from the latter half of the Edo period (1603–1868) to the early Shōwa period (1926–1989) to announce the death of and memorialize kabuki actors. In addition to a portrait of the deceased actor, they included his date of death, kaimyō (posthumous Buddhist name), temple of burial, and so on. A major characteristic of shinie is that they (generally) depict the actor after his passing away (for example, on the way to the afterlife). This is done by including elements that represent death and Buddhist memorial services. This composition shows us how the dead were represented, and thus shinie are valuable materials for elucidating people’s views of death during the time in which they were created.

For its 2001 shinie exhibition entitled “Kaleidoscope of the different worlds ─ The world to Come, Spectres, Fortune Telling ─” (Ikai mangekyō: ano yo, yōkai, uranai), the NMJH collected shinie and related materials. In 2010 the NMJH published its seventh illustrated materials catalogue entitled Shinie, which features the shinie included in its collection of color ukiyoe that were already held before the exhibit, as well as those acquired afterwards to expand its collection. The NMJH has continued to collect and organize such materials, and at present is constructing one of the leading shinie collections in Japan.

This led the NMJH to carry out a survey of the shinie and related materials held by the NME. This was done as part of the “Study of the Siebold Family Collection and Other Materials Collected in Japan and Taken Overseas in the Nineteenth Century” (2010–2015; Research Topic A), a sub-project of the National Institutes for the Humanities’ (NIHU) “International Collaborative Research on Japan-related Documents and Artifacts Overseas” project. It revealed that a considerable number of shinie not found even at the major shinie-holding institutions in Japan exist at the NME. Shinie are valuable both from an art history perspective and theater history perspective: they enable us to grasp how color ukiyoe were published, and also include information about kabuki actors. Furthermore, they also are useful to the fields of folklore studies and religious studies because, as mentioned above, they reflect people’s views of death and the spread of Buddhism. Bringing together shinie held by the NME and those acquired in 2010 and later by the NMJH, we hope that this catalogue can serve as a basic set of materials for research on the topic.

Based on a cooperative academic agreement between the NME and the NIHU, this catalogue is the fruit of collaborative work between scholars in the Netherlands and Japan. It is our wish that it contribute to the development of scholarship in various fields.

In closing, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the NME, which unstintingly cooperated with this research and readily gave us permission to publish the catalogue, as well as everyone else who has kindly collaborated and offered suggestions in the process of its publication.

 

March 2016
Kaori HIDAKA , Principal Investigator
National Institutes for the Humanities / National Museum of Japanese History

Research Topic A: Study of the Siebold Family Collection and Other Materials
Collected in Japan and Taken Overseas in the Nineteenth Century

International Collaborative Research on Japan-related Documents and Artifacts Overseas
National Institutes for the Humanities

(Translated by Dylan LUERS TODA)


Click Here for the Table of Contents (PDF)