FROM ABE TO ZUIYO
   by Robert E. Haynes (2002)

NEVER, EVER, write an index of artists. Should you be foolish enough to disregard this command, I gleefully will relate the terrible consequences. First, one must devote, say fifty years to such a project. In the beginning the work will seem a joy, or at least of great interest. As the years shall pass this joy will turn to quiescence, later to tedium, and then to lassitude, followed by boredom and finally to loathing; but do not let these impediments stop you, for determination will carry you on. This, with the tenacious remonstrance, from friends and foe alike, to keep always working on the index, will, in the end, spur you on, whether you like it or not.

Enough of being nailed to the cross, let's get on with the work at hand. Next, you will have to master the reading of Japanese name kanji. Did I forget to tell you that this requirement might take several years of your time, before you could begin any work on the index? Well, never mind, in the end you will find you do not have to look up each kanji on every fitting you find. You can begin to record the names that are not listed in any index. Naturally the ability to read kanji, you will find, is an art form all to itself. In fact you will spend as much time deciding the reading of the name as you will recording it. There are books which will help you determine a reading, written in kanji, for the Japanese, so they can do the very thing you are trying to do. In the classic fashion of the Japanese language, not all of these books will agree on a single reading. In the end you find yourself playing a game with the gods, and to that end you throw a dart to determine a reading, proper or not.

Having surmounted the kanji learning curve, you can begin a file of the unrecorded names you see. It is best if you record each name on a card and cross reference alternate readings of the name, so that the student can locate the name under one of its many readings. You must also record the family name, if it does not appear in your list, and you must record any art names inscribed on the work of the artists, as well as all alternate readings of these art names. The master card for these unrecorded artists must also contain all the additional information to be found about each artist. Such as the place of residence, any dates, alternate family names, any titles used by the artist, and any additional information he might record on any example of his work. Also the source of the name must be recorded and the date it was found. If, in the future, you find the same name in other sources, they must be recorded as well, and what information has been included in alternate sources. If you disagree with the reading of the name in those alternate sources, then that information must be recorded as well. Naturally you will spend at least thirty or forty years at the above task. In the end I had about 42 feet of 3X5 cards in four file drawers that are 15 X 29 inches, and three rows each. Ah, can I hear you say, "I could do that"! Do not wish such a thing on your worst enemy, for I have only told you a small part of the story and what it encompasses. I know one should be very pleased to have these thousands of names not recorded in the available Japanese sources, but what about the names that ARE recorded in the lists of artists printed in Japan? This brings us to the books printed in Japan of sword fitting art names. They number about a dozen, from the SOKEN KISHO of 1781, to the TOSO KINKO JITEN by Wakayama Takeshi of 1984. It would take you many years to translate all of them, and for the most part the majority of the names are the same. Wakayama brings most of the names together, and corrects many past mistakes, but even so he seems to have left out names without explanation, and the early sources contain additional material that must be added to any current list of names. Your translation of these sources will take you from three to ten years and when completed all this information must be cross indexed, as you have with the names not recorded in the Japanese sources. You can see that all your available time will be spent on such a project and that you will devote your life to the project, without hope of redemption, and always in the limbo of purgatory. When you have recorded all the available material, naturally more will appear just as soon as you think you have finished, and will keep appearing for the rest of your life, but you must put that aside and get down to the work of typing the actual text. But wait a minute! What do you do with all the typed copy when it is finished? Well you had better find someone to publish the work, and right now! That will not be easy, as a book of this type is VERY expensive to produce and will take several years of the publishers time and resources. In my case I was very lucky. I had someone who wanted to publish the book and my patrons loved Japanese art and had some idea of what they were getting into, having published several books before.

We first made a gentleman's agreement about the publishing of the book, and became good friends as the work progressed. Which I can only hope would be the same for others. When these very general working plans had been formulated, the true work could begin. But how to record all the information at hand? It was decided that we needed someone to put all my typed material into a computer as soon as I had finished recording it. Thus a student of the Japanese language was located who was working on her doctoral degree and also had the time to devote several years to this project. Without such a companion in your work you will never finish such a book. It seemed all the pieces were in place to begin the actual work on the recording of the names for the book. Naturally you have no idea what you are getting into, even at this stage, so you just plunge into the daily work and hope you live long enough to complete the project. Starting with the "A" section the typing began. I had decided that I wanted to give a number to each name so those who did not have the kanji for the name of the artist would still know what artist was being referred to. This also means you CAN NOT make any mistakes in the numbering, for all subsequent references to the numbered artist will have to correspond to the initial reference number. Well, this does not always work, and you find you DO make mistakes in the numbering and have to change all the numbers that have preceded the mistaken number. At this stage you think you will go mad with the mountain of work that has to be changed, but somehow you do it and you pray that another mistake in the numbering will not appear, but it does, and you slowly go blindly from mistake to mistake hoping that it will all come right in the end. In my case it did, but not without days when I thought I would prefer boiling oil to one more mistake.

Now to the schedule. I was doing my work in Seattle, Washington. The completed typed material was being faxed to Ellwangen in Germany! There is a nine hour time difference between these two points. Since each days material should be coordinated, I felt I should try to live on a time schedule of those working in Germany. That meant that I would have to go to work at midnight to 2 A.M. each day, so that it was 9 A.M. to 11 A.M. in Germany. This life of a bat became my routine, seven days a week, month after month, for years to come. I do not know if others could do this, but I found the life of a zombie rather natural as the days, months, and years rolled on. Naturally you have NO personal life, and your friends think you have died, but that is only part of the price you pay when taking on a project such as this. The daily material that I was able to produce under this routine turned out to be about ten typed pages each day. These I faxed to Ellwangen at the end of my working day, which was about twelve hours long, and they reached Germany about 10 to 11 P.M. each day, so that the new material could be put into the computer early in the morning. It is strange to say, even to this day, I have not met the young lady who worked so closely with me for such a long time, and yet I feel she is a very close and great personal friend. Luckily, at this early stage of your project, you do not know, either how long, or how much time is going to be required to complete the whole book, for if you did you would never have begun such an insane work. As it turned out, I typed some 3,800 pages of text, and several hundred pages of additional material, all faithfully faxed to Ellwangen, each day for years! Time has no meaning when you are working on a book such as this. In fact, now that I look back at it, a year after that last fax was sent to Germany, I can not believe that I did it, nor can I remember HOW I did it. You do find, as irritating as it may be, that LIFE does intrude into your zombie-like existence. My project manager, in Germany, had a family and a very full schedule of his own, since he was also writing a book, on lacquer, at this same time. My new friend, who entered my material into the computer, did not live in Germany, as her home was in Venice, Italy, and she did have to go home to take care of her own affairs from time to time. As I had given up all life other than the book, I kept to my schedule and typed my ten pages even when there was no one to record them in Germany. It was the only way, for I could not break my routine and hope to ever complete the book. Dear reader, do not despair of taking on a project such as mine, for I would hope that others will add new material to that we already have at hand for study.

Well, I am sure you begin to see the tragic travails so timely taken into account here. The next stage of our saga begins after the last of the thousands of pages of the text of names have been faxed to Ellwangen. At this stage the printer enters your project. I was very fortunate to have a printer and publisher who was both very interested in Japanese art and history, and took a very personal interest in every aspect of the finished book. It was decided that some of the finished text could go to the printers, but wait, since I was giving a number to each name, I would have to go BACK and enter the numbers for ALL the references to those names in the text. In fact, it had not even been decided what format the book would take when printed. Would it be one volume, or two, maybe even three or four, we did not seem to know! As the mountain of my typed material grew, it was seen that it would be best as at least three volumes. I did have my own ideas for the printing, that I felt were very important. My copy of Hara had long since, over many years, dissolved into a broken, loose-leaf, edition. I did not want this to happen to my own book in the years of use it would receive. So I asked that the binding be as strong as possible but, then I thought, perhaps this would mean that when opened the pages would not be flat for easy reading. The printer assured me that my request could be accomplished, and it was. In general I had used the format that Hara had in his book. It seemed that tradition dictated this, as it would be exactly seventy years from the publishing of the second edition of Hara, in Hamburg, to the publishing of my book in Aichelberg. One never knows where the next trap will be in a project such as this. It had been decided that it would be possible to have the kao and seals of the artists added to the text. I had been recording the kao and seals along with the signatures from my earliest days of collecting (ca. 1947). I had added all the kao I found to my copy of Hara, as well as all other information I found about each artist. In the end I think I added more text to my Hara than had been contained in the second edition. How was I going to have this information of seals and kao added to my book. My publisher said that there was a young man who could transcribe all the kao by scanning them. At first I took the time to redraw each one, but I did not have either the time or energy to take on such a task, as there were many thousand kao and seals. Finally it was decided that I would mail my pages of my copy of Hara, and the original 3X5 cards to Germany and the information could be taken directly from the original sources. Even then I had much work to do. There are about 100 GREAT names of artists you will find in my book that do not have any seals or kao with them. There is a reason for this. Though I had drawn many kao for these artists in my Hara, I could not be sure that all of them were taken from genuine examples of the work of these most famous artists, thus it was safer to use only the references to the three volume Wakayama and the Kokubo book, and not add any of those that I had in my records. For I knew that should only ONE kao or seal that was felt not to be correct was added to my book I would hear from the "experts" in Japan, and the world over, that I had put unreliable information in my text. Naturally these same "experts" can not agree on all the seals, signatures, and kao recorded in the Japanese texts, but that is all right in their case, but a mortal sin for a foreigner. Anyway, as you see, this huge task was accomplished and gives much needed additional information, not contained in any Japanese index of artists.

Eventually, the printed text of my book began to arrive at my home for proof reading. This same text was sent to Michela for her to proof at the same time. This very valuable dual method of proofing allowed us to confer when we each had questions about the content that did not seem to be correct in the printed text. Even with the two of us working independently, and together, not all the mistakes in the text were found. This proofing took many months, and with a text of 2460 pages, seemed to never end. When I thought I had finished, new corrections were needed and additional cross checking from both the printer, with many faxes, and phone calls, and with Michela who worked right up to the bitter end. Without Gunther as the publisher none of this would have been possible. So choose your friends and publisher with great care. Eventually a day came when after rushing to the fax machine first thing in the morning, at about 2:00 A.M., there was no fax from Germany. I thought it was a mistake, so I called, and sure enough, a day had come when my part of the book was considered finished. Not really, but a day without faxes was the greatest holiday I could remember for several years. Even when the author thinks that he has come to the end of his work on a book such as this, it is not really so. I had to work on the preface, introduction, acknowledgments, Japanese introduction, abbreviations, and the Japanese and Western language bibliographies, all of which I had been trying to compile as I wrote the text of the book. These sections took various forms in their metamorphose, but eventually even this was finished. I think that you are never sure that ALL has been taken care of, even though you are told by both your publisher and printer that it is up to them to complete the work at this point. It is very hard to let even the best of friends attend to the final birthing of your child without you. Then you wait, days, weeks, until one day a package arrives at your door, and your child is in your hands, what a letdown! In fact as you look at it, in the full form, for the first time, you can not believe that it was your production. It seems the work of some disembodied figure who by chance has the same name as yours, All I could really think was, thank all the gods it was over. Naturally it was not, for even now I have collected a large group of names not contained in the text, and I am sorry to say, a group of corrections for errors that should not have been there in the first place.

Next, you have copies sent to various friends and wait for their opinion. In this case the friends seemed to agree that I had created a useful work. Not all, it seems, agreed with this opinion. A copy was sent to the N.B.T.H.K., in Tokyo, as a gift. Not a word was heard. A letter, in very formal Japanese, was sent to the chairman of the N.B.T.H.K, and he did reply. The answer was: why did I bother to write such a book, as there was already enough such information in Japanese sources, and besides I had not gotten their permission to write such a book in the first place. Oh, and what use was such a book in the English language? Naturally I had not expected to hear any other opinion from Japan, as I had crossed the line, and made waves, in fact almost a tsunami! Someday someone in Japan will take my book and fully translate it into Japanese and then it will be fully accepted, as a work in the finest tradition, but of Japanese scholarship, with no mention of its Western origins. I am now too old to worry about such things and what does it matter so long as the student of the fittings for the Japanese sword has a work that can aid him in both his research and his studies.

It has been a year since most of the text above was written. It seems that a cooling off period was necessary. What I have learned in that year is most interesting. The first two orders for the book were from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. There are now copies in the British Museum and the V. & A. Museum, London, and the Berlin and Hamburg Museums in Germany. The only museum to have the book in Japan, other than the copy I sent to the N.B.T.H.K., is the Tobacco and Salt Museum, Shibuya, Tokyo. Unfortunately, the sale of the book has been just as I expected. Those who saw its usefulness, and knew what texts were required to lookČup the name of an artist who made sword fittings, would find such a work would save them hours of time in both the research and sources that had been necessary in the past to get what information one could about a given artist. It will be years before most of those in this field of study realize the importance of having almost all the available information in one source. The others will have to be told by their friends and foe alike, that they now have a book that, "puts it all in one place." Naturally the challenge is for someone to do the same thing for the names of the sword smiths, as I have done for the fittings makers. I very much doubt that it will ever happen, but should someone be foolish enough to start such a project I will be most pleased to council them at every turn. Such a book is needed, as the "Hawley" can only give you the name, rank, and serial number of the sword smiths, and does not give you all the information in the NIHON TO MEIKAN, or a reference to the many sources where illustrations of the signatures of the smiths could be found.

What is most interesting to me today is that most of the collectors, students, and dealers of today do not seem interested in the study of the subject that they either collect or try to sell. It is as if the whole field is now controlled by the few who may learn the available knowledge and then feel that this is an end into itself, or they go into political, or group thinking that seems to be all the rage today. Frankly, I do not understand such attitudes, and I feel that the fifty-five years I have spent in this field is devoted only to myself and a select group of friends who feel the same way as I do about the study and research into Japanese sword fittings. Well here I go again, trying to bring enlightenment to this field of art, when it seems I am only spitting against the wind!

 

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