Hanna McGaughey: Zeamis' treatises in comparison

Zeami (approx. 1363 to approx. 1443) was an actor (also singer and dancer), poet, librettist, composer, theater troupe leader and director of a performance art known as Nō. Even today, pieces of the Noh theater, which were traditionally only played by men, are performed by members of traditional theaters. Although Zeami came from the lowest stratum of Japanese society at the time, he played for the ruling class, including some Shogun of the Ashikaga tribe. In addition, Zeami was also a teacher and thinker, who wrote down reflections on various aspects of his art in tracts. These tracts describe, among other things, how players should train in every phase of life, how these male players should play roles of all genders, classes and mental states, how they can evoke certain feelings and impressions in the audience, how language, music and physical movement fit together in their performances and how they should write pieces that show their strengths.

Descendants of the Kanze and Komparu houses, families of actors who primarily passed on the art of performing Nō from generation to generation, transmitted Zeami's treatises in the form of manuscripts to the present day. Until the Meiji period (1868-1912) they were only reproduced by hand and in limited numbers. It was not until 1908 that some of these manuscripts were discovered in an antiquarian bookshop and published by the scientist Yoshida Tōgo for a wider audience. The discoveries of other manuscripts soon followed, and not much later the texts appeared in annotated editions and translations in European languages. Thus, Europeans who were fascinated by this East Asian form of theater, which W.B. Yeats longingly referred to as aristocratic art, became familiar with Zeami's tracts such as B. to Peter Brook's appreciation of Zeami's thoughts as a guideline for the representation of invisible figures in everyday life.

But the translations show very clearly that Zeami used certain words with ambiguity. For example, the word for heart " kokoro 心" plays a central role in Zeami's thinking. A comparison of four translations of a text passage into German, English and French results in the question of whether the word " kokoro 心" should mean heart, feeling, understanding ( mind ) or spirit (French. esprit ). Other words, such as the elegant, mysterious, seductive beauty " yūgen 幽 玄", or the musical dynamic " kakari か か り", have similarly broad meanings. New edition writers have to decide whether different scripts, such as " kakari か か り" and " kakari or ken 懸", denote different meanings how much Zeami's use of Buddhist terms such as B. "Not heart mushin 無心", is influenced by Buddhist knowledge, or whether he also has an elegant, beautiful musicality "< em> yūkyoku 幽 曲 “wanted to include. Previously available registers are not sufficient to find and compare all word and character instances.

That is why the aim of the project is to create a database of these texts (manuscripts, printed editions and translations). Since some texts are protected by copyright, they cannot be made available in their entirety digitally and in Open Access. If possible, however, limited access to these texts should also be guaranteed by an electronic search engine. The user will be able to bring collated quotations from different editions of the texts, including manuscripts, printed editions and translations, into context, read freely accessible texts, and be able to obtain exact source and page references for the texts under copyright. These search results will replace and improve the previous work with registers. The first step is the digitization and full-text indexing of a treatise as a basis. In a further step, other printed editions, manuscripts, comments and translations are to be collated in order to reveal possible interpretations of Zeami's creative choice of words.