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Hamilton Library Gifted Rare Japanese Scrolls

January 27, 2020, 10:02 AM HST
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Japanese scroll depicts a celebration at the end of the whale hunt. PC: UH Manoa

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hamilton Library received two rare Japanese scrolls from Deborah Rudolf, wife of the late John Harvard Hawley.

The scrolls, entitled 鯨魚覧笑録 (Geigyoran shoroku), were created in 1819 and depict the entire process of whale hunting during Japan’s Edo period (1600-1868). The scrolls are hand-painted and over 400 inches long. Scrolls with the same title, but less colorful, are housed in the Tokyo National Museum, according to a report from UH Mānoa.

The scrolls will become part of the Sakamaki/Hawley Collection located in Hamilton Library’s Asia Collection. The collection has more than 5,000 items, mostly consisting of Ryukyu source materials collected by the late English journalist Frank Hawley (1906-1961). It is complemented by the personal collection of former UH professor Shunzō Sakamaki. When Frank Hawley died in 1961, Sakamaki contacted the family and started negotiating the purchase of the collection. Aided by donations from the United Okinawan Association of Hawaii, the university was able to purchase Hawley’s Ryukyu collection. John Harvard Hawley was Frank Hawley’s son.

The majority of the items are in Japanese, but there are also materials in various European languages, Chinese and Ryukyuan language (Uchināguchi). The collections are in different formats such as western binding, Japanese traditional binding books, maps, scrolls, woodblock prints and hand-written manuscripts.

“This gift greatly strengthens UH Mānoa’s Hamilton Library as a world-class source for the study of Japanese and Okinawan history and culture,” said University Librarian Clem Guthro.

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These scrolls will be available by appointment to students, faculty and researchers.

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