72 x 34 in (182.88 x 86.36 cm)
A visually arresting c. 1880 Japanese manuscript life-sized anatomical illustration of the human nervous system. The piece was likely produced mid-point in the Meiji Restoration (1868 - 1889), when traditional Kampo medicine was giving way to western medical science, but before the wide scale adoption of modern printing in the 1890s.
A Closer LookThis diagram is likely copied from German or English sources, and illustrates the human male nervous system, from the back. It is painted on Japanese paper, likely using imported aniline inks. The whole has been mounted on linen with Japanese silk edging.
Japanese Adoption of Western MedicineIn the 19th century, as part of the broader Meiji Restoration and modernization efforts, Japan began embracing Western medicine. This shift was triggered by interactions with Western powers, most notably the 1853 arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry. While traditional Japanese medicine, or 'Kampo,' rooted in Chinese practices, was prevalent, the government proactively sent students abroad to learn Western medical techniques, established medical schools with Western curricula, introduced public health initiatives, and began importing and producing Western pharmaceuticals. Over time, Western medicine became dominant, especially in urban areas, although Kampo medicine retained its relevance and is still practiced alongside Western methods today.
Publication History and CensusUnique. Only known example.
Average. On original scroll, but missing rollers. Manuscript. Sheet exhibits some cracking, wear, water damage.