Sunday, October 18, 2009

Old Komuso Manuscript: Authentic Document or Forgery?

As translated by Professor Wakita Osamu of Osaka University:

1. From this day I have been ordered to maintain strict control over the komuso monks that belong to the Fuke sect within this domain.
2. If someone in the garb of a komuso says something unlawful in order to be given money or food, it will be harmful for the sect, so you should refuse him, stating this fact. If he does not accept this and continues to say illegal things, you should take custody of him and inform me of this matter.
3. Inform me at once when someone in the dress of the komuso is involved in a quarrel and someone is hurt. I will investigate the circumstances and decide what to do, whether for example it should be handled by the headquarters of the sect or should be reported to the authorities of Osaka.

This document is dated 1842. Is it genuine or a forgery? Who is the Rinkaku whose name appears as the author, whose order did he receive, and to whom did he write the letter? Even if it is a forgery, it is valuable to suggest that in 1842 forgeries may have been rampant. In this period, to circulate a forged document was a serious crime. The tomb of Master Kyochiku was constructed in 1841. Perhaps something with an important connection to the shakuhachi occured in the period 1841-1842. -- The Kitahara Family; owners of this document.