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BRUSH TALK AS THE ‘LINGUA FRANCA’ OF DIPLOMACY IN JAPANESE–KOREAN ENCOUNTERS, c. 1600–1868

  • REBEKAH CLEMENTS (a1)

Abstract

The study of early modern diplomatic history has in recent decades expanded beyond a bureaucratic, state-centric focus to consider the processes and personal interactions by which international relations were maintained. Scholars have begun to consider, among other factors, the role of diplomatic gifts, diplomatic hospitality, and diplomatic culture. This article contributes to this discussion from an East Asian perspective by considering the role of ‘brush talk’ – written exchanges of classical, literary Chinese – during diplomatic missions from the Korean Chosŏn court to the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Drawing upon official records, personal diaries, and illustrations, I argue that brush talk was not an official part of diplomatic ceremony and that brushed encounters with Korean officials even extended to people of the townsman classes. Brush talk was as much about ritual display, calligraphic art, and drawing upon a shared storehouse of civilized learning as it was about communicating factual content through language. These visual, performative aspects of brush talk in East Asian diplomacy take it beyond the realm of how a lingua franca is usually conceived, adding to the growing body of scholarship on how this concept applies to non-Western histories.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Passeig Lluís Companys, 23. 08010 Barcelona; The Autonomous University of Barcelona, Campus de la UAB, Plaça Cívica, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelonarebekah.clements@icrea.cat

Footnotes

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This article was originally conceived as a presentation for the workshop, Textual Ambassadors II (University of Cambridge, 14–15 Apr. 2014). The author would like to thank the conference participants for their feedback, and the organizers, Dr Tracey Sowerby and Dr Joanna Craigwood, for their comments on a previous draft.

Footnotes

References

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1 Murai, Shōsuke, ‘Poetry in Chinese as a diplomatic art in premodern East Asia’, trans. Wakabayashi, Haruko and Goble, Andrew Edmund, in Robinson, Kenneth R., ed., Tools of culture: Japan's cultural, intellectual, medical, and technological contacts in East Asia, 1000s–1500s (Ann Arbor, MI, 2009), p. 51.

2 Howland, Douglas, Borders of Chinese civilization: geography and history at empire's end (Durham, NC, 1996), pp. 4368.

3 An exception to the general lack of detailed work on brush talk is Douglas Howland's pioneering chapter on writing and poetry in late nineteenth-century Sino-Japanese scholarly exchanges, which will be discussed in more detail below. Howland, Borders of Chinese civilization, pp. 43–68.

4 See Sowerby, Tracey A., ‘Early modern diplomatic history’, History Compass, 14 (2016), pp. 441–56.

5 For a discussion, see Berry, Mary Elizabeth, ‘Defining “early modern”’, in Friday, Karl, ed., Japan emerging: premodern history to 1850 (Boulder, CO, 2012), pp. 4252.

6 Pollock, Sheldon, The language of the gods in the world of men: Sanskrit, culture, and power in premodern India (Berkeley, CA, 2006).

7 E.g. Elman, Benjamin A., ed., Rethinking East Asian languages, vernaculars, and literacies, 1000–1919 (Leiden, 2014); Denecke, Wiebke, Classical world literatures: Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman comparisons (Oxford, 2014); King, Ross, ‘Ditching “diglossia”: describing ecologies of the spoken and inscribed in pre-modern Korea’, Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, 15 (2015), pp. 119.

8 On the geographical range of Chinese textual influence and local responses, see Kornicki, Peter, Languages, scripts, and Chinese texts in East Asia (Oxford, 2018).

9 Matisoff, James A. coined the term ‘Sinosphere’ to denote ‘the Chinese…area…of linguistic/cultural influence in Southeast Asia’ (n. 17) in ‘On megalocomparison’, Language, 66 (1990), pp. 106–20, at p. 113. For a discussion of the history of the concept, see Victor Mair, ‘Sinophone and Sinosphere’, posted on Language Log (8 Nov. 2012), http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4306. Here, I follow Joshua Fogel's use of the term as an essential concept for understanding the history of East Asia in particular. See Fogel, Joshua A., Articulating the Sinosphere (Cambridge, MA, 2009), pp. 46.

10 Japanese kana in the ninth century, Vietnamese Chữ Nôm in the eleventh and Korean hangul in 1443.

11 See Clements, Rebekah, A cultural history of translation in early modern Japan (Cambridge, 2015), p. 100. See also Kornicki, Peter, ‘A note on Sino-Japanese: a question of terminology’, Sino-Japanese Studies, 17 (2010), pp. 2944; Mair, Victor, ‘Buddhism and the rise of the written vernacular in East Asia: the making of national languages’, Journal of Asian Studies, 53 (1994), pp. 705–51.

12 Dudden, Alexis, ‘Japan's engagement with international terms’, in Liu, Lydia He, ed., Tokens of exchange: the problem of translation in global circulations (Durham, NC, 1999), pp. 165–91; Dudden, Alexis, Japan's colonization of Korea: discourse and power (Honolulu, HI, 2005).

13 Dudden, Japan's colonization of Korea.

14 Toby, Ronald P., State and diplomacy in early modern Japan: Asia in the development of the Tokugawa bakufu (Stanford, CA, 1991), pp. 170–1.

15 Kang, David C., East Asia before the West: five centuries of trade and tribute (New York, NY, 2010), pp. 5481.

16 Ibid., p. 57, quoting Hevia, James L., Cherishing men from afar: Qing guest ritual and the Macartney Embassy of 1793 (Durham, NC, 2005), p. 50.

17 Kelley, Liam C., Beyond the bronze pillars: envoy poetry and the Sino-Vietnamese relationship (Honolulu, HI, 2005).

18 Toby, State and diplomacy; Hellyer, Robert I., Defining engagement: Japan and global contexts, 1640–1868 (Cambridge, MA, 2009).

19 See Toby, State and diplomacy, pp. 53–109 and 168–230.

20 For a chronology, see Toby, Roland P., ‘Carnival of the aliens. Korean embassies in Edo-period art and popular culture’, Monumenta Nipponica, 41 (1986), pp. 422–3.

21 Lewis, James B., ed., The East Asian war, 1592–1598: international relations, violence, and memory (London, 2015).

22 See Hellyer, Defining engagement, pp. 25–48; and Lewis, James B., Frontier contact between Chosŏn Korea and Tokugawa Japan (London, 2003).

23 Toby, ‘Carnival of the aliens’.

24 One of the most comprehensive collections is Ki-su, Sin and Hiroshi, Nakano, eds., Taikei Chōsen tsūshinshi: Zenrin to yūkōno kiroku (8 vols., Tokyo, 1993–6).

25 Ch. bitan, Jp. hitsudan, Kor. p'ildam, Viet. bút đàm.

26 Ch. wenda, Jp. mondō, Kor. mundap., Viet. vấn đáp.

27 Trambaiolo, Daniel, ‘Diplomatic journeys and medical brush talks: eighteenth-century dialogues between Korean and Japanese medicine’, in Gal, Ofer, and Zheng, Yi, eds., Motion and knowledge in the changing early modern world (Dordrecht, 2014), pp. 93113.

28 Ch. changhe, Jp. shōwa, Kor. changhwa.

29 See Murai, ‘Poetry in Chinese as a diplomatic art in premodern East Asia’; Kelley, Beyond the bronze pillars.

30 Howland, Borders of Chinese civilization, pp. 43–68. See also Fraleigh, Matthew, ‘At the borders of Chinese literature: poetic exchange in the nineteenth-century Sinosphere’, in Rojas, Carlos and Bachner, Andrea, eds., The Oxford handbook of modern Chinese literatures (Oxford, 2016), pp. 372–98.

31 Lynn, Richard John, ‘Huang Zunxian and his association with Meiji era Japanese literati (“bunjin”): the formation of the early Meiji canon of kanshi’, Japan Review, 15 (2003), pp. 101–25.

32 Ng, Wai-ming, ‘Yao Wendong (1852–1927) and Japanology in late Qing China’, in Fogel, Joshua A., ed., Crossing the Yellow Sea: Sino-Japanese cultural contacts, 1600–1950 (Norwalk, CT, 2007), pp. 158–74 and 160–6.

33 Hevia, Cherishing men from afar.

34 W. J. Boot, ‘The adoption and adaptation of neo-Confucianism in Japan: the role of Fujiwara Seika and Hayashi Razan’ (Ph.D. diss. revised version 3.0, Leiden, 2013), p. 116. On Razan's contact with Korean representatives, see Yoshio, Abe, Nihon shushigaku to Chōsen (Tokyo, 1965), pp. 211–24.

35 Murai, ‘Poetry in Chinese as a diplomatic art in premodern East Asia’, p. 55.

36 Ackroyd, Joyce, trans., Told round a brushwood fire: the autobiography of Arai Hakuseki (Princeton, NJ, 1979), pp. 62–3.

37 Kunzan, Matsudaira, ed., Sansei shōwa (Nagoya, 1764). This work contains a preface by Ch'uwŏl and an epigraph by Kunzan. The title of the work may be translated as ‘Chanting in harmony with three generations’, a reference to the three generations of Kunzan's family who were present.

38 Fukusai, Hayashi et al. , eds., Tsūkō ichiran (1850) (8 vols., Tokyo, 1912–13), iii, p. 263.

39 See Lewis, Frontier contact, p. 254 n. 30.

40 Translated from Shin Yuhan, Haeyurok (1719), which is reprinted in Sin and Nakano, eds., Taikei Chōsen tsūshinshi, v, p. 154. Unless otherwise stated, all translations are my own.

41 Translated from Amenomori Hōshū, Kōrin teisei (1728), which is reprinted in Kazui, Tashiro, ed., Kōrin teisei (Tokyo, 2014), p. 89.

42 Ibid., pp. 89–90.

43 Ibid., p. 89. See also Hayashi et al., eds., Tsūkō ichiran, iii, p. 287.

44 Amenomori, Kōrin teisei, p. 89.

45 Shin, Haeyurok, p. 164.

46 E.g. Hayashi et al., eds., Tsūkō ichiran, iii, p. 291.

47 The diaries of other Korean representatives report that monks also came in search of writing samples. See Kazunari, Ogawa, ‘Tenwado Chōsen tsūshinshi to tairō, Hotta Masatoshi no Hitsudan shōwa’, Nikkan sōgō ninshiki, 5 (2012), pp. 153, at p. 3.

48 Amenomori, Kōrin teisei, pp. 89–90.

49 Rubinger, Richard, Popular literacy in early modern Japan (Honolulu, HI, 2007); Kornicki, Peter, The book in Japan: a cultural history from the beginnings to the nineteenth century (Leiden, 1998).

50 Toshiyuki, Suziki, Edo no dokushonetsu: jigakusuru dokusha to shoseki ryūtsū (Tokyo, 2007); Clements, A cultural history of translation, pp. 16–140.

51 Ikegami, Eiko, Bonds of civility: aesthetic networks and the political origins of Japanese culture (Cambridge, 2005); Sato, Hiroaki, ‘Introduction’, in Sato, Hiroaki, trans., Breeze through bamboo: kanshi of Ema Saikō (New York, NY, 1998), pp. 130.

52 Kenkichi, Ichishima, ed., Arai Hakuseki zenshū (6 vols., Tokyo, 1905–7), iv, pp. 497502.

53 Shisekikai, Kyōto, ed., Hayashi Razan bunshū (Osaka, 1930), pp. 248–50.

54 Ichishima, ed., Arai Hakuseki zenshū, iv, pp. 721–4. For conversations which took place at the Higashi Honganji during the 1682 embassy, see Hayashi et al., eds., Tsūkō ichiran, iii, p. 286. Hakuseki's musical conversation is preserved in Ichishima, ed., Arai Hakuseki zenshū, iv, pp. 721–4.

55 There is some doubt as to the extent to which the classical system was originally intended to represent speech. See Mair, ‘Buddhism and the rise of the written vernacular in East Asia’. Over time, increasing amounts of vernacular Chinese language were represented in writing. See Norman, Jerry, Chinese (Cambridge, 1988), p. 108.

56 An in-depth study is Lurie, David B., Realms of literacy: early Japan and the history of writing (Cambridge, MA, 2011).

57 The origins of the term idu are obscure but it came to be written with logographs meaning ‘clerical reading’. See Lee, Ki-Moon and Ramsey, S. Robert, A history of the Korean language (Cambridge, 2011), p. 56. On old Korean methods of reading Chinese, see Lee, Peter, A history of Korean literature (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 8890.

58 On the possible Korean origins of such practices in Japan, see Lurie, Realms of literacy, pp. 195–204. For an introduction to kundoku, see ibid., pp. 169–212; Semizu, Yukino, ‘Invisible translation: reading Chinese texts in ancient Japan’, in Hermans, Theo, ed., Translating others (2 vols., Manchester, 2006), ii, pp. 283–95; Wakabayashi, Judy, ‘The reconceptionization of translation from Chinese in eighteenth-century Japan’, in Hung, Eva, ed., Translation and cultural change: studies in history, norms and image-projection (Amsterdam, 2005), pp. 121–4.

59 Wakabayashi, Judy, ‘Translation in the East Asian cultural sphere: shared roots, divergent paths?’, in Hung, Eva and Wakabayashi, Judy, eds., Asian translation traditions (Manchester, 2005), p. 24. For a comparison of East Asian glossing techniques, see Kosukegawa, Teiji, ‘Explaining what kundoku is in the premodern Sinosphere’, Les dossiers de HEL [supplément électronique à la revue Histoire Epistémologie Langage], 7 (2014).

60 Sixiang, Wang, ‘The sounds of our country: interpreters, linguistic knowledge, and the politics of language in early Chosŏn Korea’, in Elman, ed., Rethinking East Asian languages, pp. 5862.

61 See, for example, poems translated in Murai, ‘Poetry’, and Kelley, Beyond the bronze pillars.

62 Murai, ‘Poetry in Chinese as a diplomatic art in premodern East Asia’, p. 51.

63 See, for example, Lee, Jin-hee, Edo jidai no Chōsen tsūshinshi (Tokyo, 1987), p. 229.

64 Clements, Rebekah, ‘Speaking in tongues? Daimyo, Zen Buddhism, and spoken Chinese in Japan, 1661–1711’, Journal of Asian Studies, 76 (2017), pp. 603–26.

65 Cheung, Martha, An anthology of Chinese discourse on translation: from earliest times to the Buddhist project (Manchester, 2006), p. 36.

66 Pastreich, Emanuel, ‘Grappling with Chinese writing as a material language: Ogyū Sorai's Yakubunsentei’, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 61 (2011), pp. 119–70, at pp. 94–5; Tsutomu, Sugimoto, Nagasaki tsūji monogatari: kotoba to bunka no hon'yakusha (Tokyo, 1990), pp. 72–6.

67 Wang, ‘The sounds of our country’.

68 Shin, Haeyurok, p. 164.

69 Ibid., pp. 164–5.

70 Denecke, Wiebke, ‘Worlds without translation: premodern East Asia and the power of character scripts’, in Bermann, Sandra and Porter, Catherine, eds., A companion to translation studies (Chichester, 2014), pp. 204–16, at p. 209.

71 Italian, lit. Frankish tongue

72 ‘lingua franca, n.’. OED Online. Mar. 2015. Oxford University Press, www.oed.com/view/Entry/327283?redirectedFrom=lingua+franca. On the original lingua franca, see Meierkord, Christiane and Knapp, Karlfried, ‘Approaching lingua franca communication’, in Knapp, Karlfried and Meierkord, Christiane, eds., Lingua franca communication (Frankfurt, 2002), pp. 928.

73 Howland, Borders of Chinese civilization, p. 45 (italics in the original).

74 ‘lingua franca, n.’. OED Online.

75 Pollock, The language of the gods.

76 Benjamin A. Elman, ‘Introduction: languages in East and South Asia, 1000–1919’, in Elman, ed., Rethinking East Asian languages, p. 2.

77 Clements, A cultural history of translation, p. 111.

78 Levy, Indra, ‘Introduction: modern Japan and the trialectics of translation’, Review of Japanese Culture and Society, 20 (2008), p. 3.

This article was originally conceived as a presentation for the workshop, Textual Ambassadors II (University of Cambridge, 14–15 Apr. 2014). The author would like to thank the conference participants for their feedback, and the organizers, Dr Tracey Sowerby and Dr Joanna Craigwood, for their comments on a previous draft.

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