"tezukuri" in classical texts

Question raised by: Morgan Pitelka

Discussants: Wayne Farris, Richard Bowring. Lawrence Marceau, Rokuo Tanaka, John R. Bentley, Eric Rath , Lawrence Marceau

This archive contains related discussion under the subject line "Hemp-making" and "tesarugaku and tezukuri"

Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 17:56:08 +0100
From: Morgan Pitelka
Subject: "tezukuri" in classical texts

Dear All,

I'm currently conducting research on the term "tezukuri" (literally "hand-made") for an essay on tea utensils that will be published in Japanese.

The term is clearly an old one. It appears three or four times (kunyomi) in _Manyoshu_(2647, 3373, 3791, 4008) modifying the character "nuno" or otherwise relating to cloth. (Sometimes read "tazukuri"). Likewise, I've found dozens of references in the document collection _Heian ibun_, mostly describing "nuno." It appears quite often from the sixteenth century in more variedcontexts, modifying various comestibles (natto, miso, sake, etc.), tools, and garments. The seventeenth-century diary _Kakumeiki_, for example, is full of references to "hand-made" objects, which seems to indicate specially made, home-made, or high-quality goods.

In early modern tea culture, I read the term as referring more to the mode of production than to the means. By this I mean that what is important is not whether or not tools, molds, or machines were used, but who the maker was. Most "tezukuri" tea bowls were made by tea practitioners rather than professional artisans.

In contemporary Japan, the term is most-often used as short-hand for "authentic." You can find just about everything "tezukuri" these days. I'm sure many of you have seen the ceramics in department stores that bear mass-produced stickers reading "tezukuri." Also common is "tezukuri" as "home-made," such as sushi made in one's kitchen and then given away as an informal gift.

It is less apparent to me what "tezukuri" means before the sixteenth century. Why describe something as "hand-made" in the 8th century when everything is hand-made? Likewise, how was "tezukuri nuno" different from just plain "nuno" in the Heian period?

If anyone has any thoughts on this, I would appreciate hearing from you. Likewise, if anyone knows of any uses of the term in other premodern documents or texts, please let me know. Thanks,


Morgan Pitelka

Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (until 12/2001)
SOAS, University of London

Asian Studies Department
(from 1/2002)
Occidental College 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles, CA

Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 19:21:06 -0400
From: Wayne Farris
Subject: Hemp-making

Dear Morgan,
I found your message interesting. Hemp, of course, was the preferred cloth for peasants until at least the late fifteenth century, when cotton entered from Korea. I have not looked at the references you cited, but to make hemp cloth, there was quite a lot of "tezukuri" necessary, as I understand. The stalks of the karamushi had to be stripped of their outer skin, and then those skins were pounded to make them softer. Then one could weave cloth. Unlike cotton, clothing made from hemp was cold and scratchy--thus cotton was a big advance when it did come in. I know of a few articles for you to refer to if you like, including an oldie but goodie by Nagahara Keiji.
See why studying commoners and their industries can be so valuable?
Best wishes,
Wayne Farris

Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 08:57:30 +0100
From: Richard Bowring
Subject: Re: "tezukuri" in classical texts

The entry in Nihon Kokugo Daijiten suggests that the term means 'made by oneself' (made with one's own fair hands?') rather than just hand-made, which would answer your problem about everything being hand-made at the time. The Manyoshu examples all seem to be 'tezukuri no' which suggests that you might treat it as a makurakotoba for nuno; this would again explain the tautology.
Richard Bowring

Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 03:14:04 -1000 (HST)
From: Rokuo Tanaka
Subject: Re: "tezukuri" in classical texts

Morgan Pitelka:

I read your posting with much interest.

I start my day with breakfast consisting of a bowl of rice and soup which
made of "'o-fukuro (mother) no' aji" and "'tezukuri no' aji" miso.
The term "Tezukuri no" something seems to me to induce inherently
warmheartedness and tender sentiment.

Sanseido's _Reikai Kogo Jiten_ (3rd ed., 1992) defines "tezukuri" as 1) To make something with (your) own hands, and finished products 2) hand-woven cloth. This Jiten quotes Manyo^ poem 3373 Azuma uta from Book 14 as an example, but does not explicitly say "Makura kotob." It explains, however, that "tezukuri" introduces or leads to the third line, "sara sara ni."
I will check Iwanami's and Kadokawa's _Kogo Jiten_ further. I don't find any poems including this word(s) in the twenty-one
Chokusenshu^. However, in addition to the Manyoshu^, the following two anthologies include some poems with "tezukuri...":

_Fuboku Waka Sho^_ (ca. 1309):

Book 23 Misc.5 # 10542 "tezukuri ni"
Book 21 Misc.3 # 9252 "tezukuri no koto"
Book 14 Autumn 5 #5732 "tezukuri no nuno"
Book 33 Misc.15 #15659 "tezukuri no nuno"
Book 33 Misc.15 #15657 "tezukuri ha (wa)"
Book 31 Misc.13 #14647 "tezukuri ya"

The poem #15657" "tezukuri ha (wa)" is also included in _ Shinsen Waka
Roku Jo_ (ca. 1243) Book 6 #1911.

I think "tezukuri" relates to "tenui" (hand-sewn), "teami" (hand-knitted), and "teori" (hand-woven). Things that follow these words with "no" (noun becomes adjective) give you spontaneously the impressions of "special," "one and only,"no duplicate," and "exquisite" specially made for you.

With Aloha from the Islands of Paradise.

Rokuo Tanaka
UH at Manoa

Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 12:25:14 -0500
From: John R. Bentley
Subject: Re: "tezukuri" in classical texts

Dear All,

Morgan has asked a very interesting question:

It is less apparent to me what "tezukuri" means before the sixteenth century. Why describe something as "hand-made" in the 8th century when everything is hand-made?

First we should note that tadukuri appears earlier than tedukuri (tadukuri appearing in Nihon shoki). I think the problem here is
in interpreting tadukuri to mean 'hand-made'.

This word only appears twice in the ancient corpus, as far as I can tell. Once in Nihon shoki, #106 where the word is the infinitive of
the verb 'to wear,' 'to put robes on for a trip.' I think the ta- here has NOTHING to do with 'hand'. The word appears to have been
reanalyzed in the Nara era as te-, when people then interpreted it to mean 'hand'. I think the meaning remained the same, however,
'to wear for a specific reason'. This came to mean a kind of cloth. Shinsen shoojiroku of the late ninth century says that tedukuri means
Indian mallow.

It should be also remembered that according to Myoogishoo of the late Heian era, the accent of tedukuri, Indian mallow, is LRHH-, while the noun tedukuri 'hand-made' is LLHL, so the accents are different, meaning the words are different.

John Bentley

Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 10:38:27 -1000 (HST)
From: Rokuo Tanaka
Subject: Re: "tezukuri" in classical texts

Morgan Pitelka:

Here's another a half pennyworth of tidbit. And I am also speaking under correction.

Kadokawa's_Kogo Dai-Jiten (5 v., 1994) v.4, p.542, has two entries elaborating "tezukuri" and "tezukuri no nuno". The former is an abbreviation of the latter. "Tezukuri no nuno" is hand-woven cloth with a simple loom, and then is bleached under river water ( as in the Manyo^ poem #3373) and/or exposed under the sun, i.e., "sarasu". The finished piece is as refined as silk, hence, can be used as currency.

Another poem is quoted from _Shugyoku Shu^ (Kamakura period). Sonen Hosshinno^ compiled chronologically all the poems by Jien (1155-1225). Poem #1025 in Book One reads:

Kakine o ba/mina U no hana to miru bakari/taema ni sarase/tezukuri no nuno.
(I find this poem simple, easy to recite, but charming.)

"Tezukuri no nuno" are also entered in the following two dictionaries:

1) Shinsen Jikyo^ (ca. 901-923), 12 v of the oldest extant Kanji dictionary compiled by Priest Sho^jyu^ (b.d. unknown).

2) Wamyo^ Ruiju Sho^ (a.k.a. Wamyo^sho^, ca. 931-938) 10 v. and 20 v. compiled by poet Minamoto no Shitagau (911-983).

Kadokawa's Jiten does not mention "tezukuri" as one of "makura kotoba".

With Aloha

Rokuo Tanaka

From: Eric Rath
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 10:20:19 -0500
Subject: "tezukuri" in classical texts

Dear All,

John Bentley brought up an interesting point about "te" in "te-zukuri," namely that "te" did not originally refer to hand.

The expression "tesarugaku" used in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is similar in that regard. In this case, "te" referred to skill or ability; hence the expression tesarugaku implied a skilled sarugaku (noh) actor. Since this was a catch-all term for performers outside of groups (za) affiliated with religious institutions and/ or military patrons, by the sixteenth century it became a derogatory term indicating "amateur" status, disappearing in the 17th century around the time that the word "amateur" (shiroto) appears in noh discourse.

I hope this lends a hand (sorry I couldn't resist that one!).


Eric Rath

Eric C Rath 1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Assistant Professor Department of History
University of Kansas Lawrence KS 66045-7590

Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 14:45:24 +0100
From: Morgan Pitelka
Subject: tesarugaku and tezukuri

Dear Eric and All,

I was aware of the term tesarugaku and its association with amateur performers. I don't think, however, that this is directly related to John's point that tezukuri/tazukuri may not originally have had anything to do with the notion of "hand."

"Tesarugaku" actually returns us to the "tezukara" or "by one's own hand" meaning of "te," and has interesting parallels in the world of tea tezukuri. Most tea utensils labeled tezukuri are done so not because they are made by hand, but by amateur artisans (tea practitioners) outside of the standard craft organizational structures (guilds, workshops, artisan households, etc.). The makers of tezukuri utensils don't patronize professionals; they do it themselves. Likewise, tesarugaku performers aren't members of the za; they are outsiders or amateurs.

Thanks again for the many stimulating reponses.


Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 17:17:47 -0400
From: Lawrence Marceau
Subject: "tezukuri" in classical texts

Before "tedukuri" gets too cold, I'd like to share what I've found.

In Sanseidou's _Jidai-betsu Kokugo daijiten: Joudai-hen_, the item for "tedukuri" says, "Tezukuri no mono. Teori no asanuno." It then gives an example from MYS 3373(old)/3390(new) that clearly refers to fabric that has been treated in the waters of the Tama River, Musashi Province. It then provides an example from _Nihon ryoui ki_, and examples from _Shinsen jikyou_ and _Wamyou shou_, that identify "tedukuri" as ("cho," "ichibi, a type of hemp, or "asanuno," the fabric woven from hemp); and ("wo," "karamushi," a type of hemp; also thread or rope made from "wo"). I assume from John Bentley's message that these characters refer to "Indian mallow."

The same _Jidai-betsu_ dictionary does not have "tadukuri" but it does have the verb, "tadukuru." The definition goes, "Ryosou (travel attire) wo totonoeru i (meaning) ka. "Ta" wa "te" (hand) ka." Then follows an example from NS-kayou #106, and from MYS 4008 (old)/4031 (new). The fourth and fifth lines of #106 "ayoi tadukuri / koshi dukurou mo" clearly refer to tying ones legging cords and tightening ones waistband. The usage is similar in the MYS poem as well.

Well, after all that, it doesn't seem that I've said any more than John Bentley has already said. The NS usage is, as a verb, "to prepare ones travel attire" while the other, a noun, refers to a type of woven fabric, related to hemp. I guess I could add that the _Nihon kokugo daijiten_ (1st edition) has a reference to "tatsukuri" as an ancient name for Choufu (now a city in Tokyo Prefecture), where cloth ("nuno," "fu") was treated in the Tama River and presented as "tribute" ("chou") to the Court. The example given, however, dates from the eighteenth century, so it could be anachronistic.

Lawrence Marceau

log complete up to 2001/10/19