1860 (undated) 55.5 x 25.5 in (140.97 x 64.77 cm)
A rare late Edo c. 1860 Japanese xylographic or woodblock map illustrating the Buddhist cosmographical conception of Mount Meru. Here the mountain rests on the cosmic ocean at the middle of the universe. Rising out of the Cosmic Sea, seven mountain ranges enclose the seven seas. At the summit is Sumeru, paradise, or Great Meru. The sun and moon orbit Meru. Buddhist text surrounds the map.
Mount MeruMount Meru (Sanskrit: मेरु), also recognized as Sumeru, Sineru or Mahameru, is the sacred five-peaked mountain of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmography. Meru considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual worlds - literally the axis of the universe. Many early Buddhists believe Meru to physically exist, but by the late Edo period, most Japanese Buddhists understood it as a conceptual, not literal, breakdown of the cosmos. In fact, the 18th century Japanese scholar Tominaga Nakamoto (1715-1746)m argued that when the historical Buddha discussed Mount Meru, he was simply describing the cosmos as it was understood in his time.
Publication History and CensusThis is a woodblock, so presumably there were once other examples, but we have not been able to identify any such and so this must be considered a one-of-a-kind piece. The map is undated, but our assessment of the paper and printing style date it to the mid-19th century.
Good. A couple of minor wormholes. Thin paper.