The Latter Period Ryukyus / The Flourishing Industry and Culture of the Latter Period Ryukyus 6/11

Latter Period Ryukyuan Developments
in Academics and Literature

Ryukyuan academics and literature were influenced by both of Japan and China. However, the language came from Japanese roots and classical Chinese was read in the Japanese way.

The "Rikuyu Engi"
This is a book on morality which Teijunsoku, also known as Nago Ekata Chobun, brought back from China to the Ryukyus when he was young. Later it was sent through Satsuma to the Shogunate and was translated into Japanese by Ogyu Sorai and Muro Kyusou. It spread throughout the whole country as a textbook in the Teragoya temple schools of the Edo Period.

"Konkou Kenshu"
A dictionary of the archaic Rykyuan language completed in 1711. It is believed that Shikina Seimei was the planner of the dictionary. There are quotations from Japanese literature such as the "Genji Monogatari" (Tale of the Genji), "Ise Monogatari" (Tales of Ise) and the "Tsurezure-gusa" (Essays in Idleness) throughout the book. At the time, most literature scholars in the Ryukyus were proficient in the Japanese style Waka. Poem gatherings were held at the daimyo's residence in Shuri every month. The king was also in attendance at some of these gatherings.

Ryuka (Okinawan Lyrical poetry)
The Ryuka is a significant genre in classical Okinawan literature. A short poem form, the Ryuka contains four lines of 8-8-8-6 syllables and expresses a spontaneous emotion. 8 and 6 syllables were characteristic of verse in the Ryukyus since the days of the Manyo-shu (Nara period). Ryuka flourished under the stimulating influence of Waka and the musical accompaniment of the Sanshin (Okinawan samisen) which was introduced from China in the late of 14th century. There are songs that are still popular today such as those of the women poets, Unna Nabi and Yoshiya Umichiru, both of whom wove skilled and delicate verses.

[The Poetry of Unna Nabi] [The Poetry of Yoshiya Umichiru]

Kumi-odori Dance
The Ryukyuan classical theater Kumi-odori was created for entertainments presented to welcome Chinese investiture envoys. It is a unique Ryukyuan genre in theater , which combines music, dancing and verse. Kumi-odori was created by Tamagusuku Chokun (1684-1734) and was first performed at the ceremonies for Chinese investiture envoys held in 1719. The plots are taken from tales and legends transmitted orally for generations, however its style and direction were influenced by the Japanese classical theater arts of Noh, Puppet theater, and Kabuki. There are five masterpieces that are considered Tamagusuku Chokun's finest work. Nido Tekiuchi" (Revenge of the Two Boys), "Shushin Kaneiri "(Passion and the Bell), "Mekarushi" (Master Mekaru), "Unna-munu-gurui" (The Madwoman) and "Koko no Makai" (Filial Piety). Another well-known and popular work is that of Heshikiya Chobin (1700-1734) who wrote "Temizu no En" (A Handful of Water).

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