London-based Peter Harrington Rare Books – one of the leading rare book dealers in the world and the largest antiquarian book dealer in Europe owned by Pom Harrington- and they are participating in Frieze Seoul (Sep. 6-9) for the first time. Their exhibition will focus on the evolution of manuscript and print culture from East Asia to the 20th century, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between Buddhism and Christianity, and the history of written and printed word and image.
Peter Harrington’s selection showcases significant moments in Western and East Asian religious history, such as the creation of sutras in the 8th-13th centuries that spread Buddhist thought in China, Korea, and Japan, as well as Gutenberg’s revolutionary discovery of moveable type printing in Europe. It highlights the role of religious agents, like missionaries, in facilitating international knowledge exchange.
The showcase also explores books as indicators of historical trends, including conformity and dissent. It discusses witchcraft trials in early modern Europe as attempts to maintain social order and Enlightenment scholars challenging established religious institutions. Similar dynamics are seen in East Asia, where scholars like Hayashi Shihei questioned the status quo.
The bookseller will also bring a number of outstanding Western highlights including a Banksy canvas of Kate Moss and Shakespeare’s Second Folio.
Daihannyaharamittakyo (“Great Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom”) Japan; Early Manuscript Culture (760)
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the oldest item ever offered by the gallery: an exceptionally rare and well-preserved Daihannyaharamittakyo (“Great Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom”) Japan; Early Manuscript Culture (760). The item is a 600-volume collection of 16 different sutras, including the Diamond Sutra, each traditionally believed to represent teachings conveyed by the Buddha to a different assembly of followers. Ritualized copying of sutras was key to both Buddhist devotional practice and the religion’s spread across East Asia.
Bonmokyo koshakuki (“Commentary on the Brahma’s Net Sutra”) by Japan; Early Printing (1315)
An extraordinary survival, from the Hawley library, of East Asia’s transnational history, bringing together a foundational Chinese sutra and a leading Korean exegesis in a Japanese context. This is an example of the printing undertaken at the famous Saidai Temple in Nara at the close of Japan’s Kamakura period. During the late 12th and early 13th centuries, the temple printed a number of now exceptionally rare religious texts. “It was in the Kamakura period that Buddhism in Japan came into full flower”.
Composed in China around 420, the Brahma’s Net Sutra (Brahmajala Sutra) is based on Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhist teachings and incorporates important Chinese moral and ethical ideas such as filial piety. The present commentary composed by the Korean monk Taehyon in the eighth century remains “the most thorough and balanced exegesis ever written on the text” and exemplifies the leading role played by Koreans in the flourishing of East Asian Buddhism in the second half of the first millennium CE.
The Saidai Temple was founded in 765 in Nara, the centre of Japanese Buddhist culture, and was one of the city’s seven leading temples. In the 13th century, it was established as the headquarters of the Shingon Risshu sect founded by the monk Eison. Under Eison’s stewardship, the temple printed xylographic editions of sutras often distinctively bound as concertinas rather than in the more traditional scroll format. Printing continued after his death until at least 1318.
Kate Moss, Original Colourway Screenprint on Canvas, Banksy
Banksy canvas of Kate Moss priced £1.25 million. It is a piece that unites two quintessential British icons, a fitting representation of Peter Harrington as a London-based dealer. In 2011,?Banksy ?is believed to have created a unique edition for?Kate Moss?herself, as a wedding gift on the occasion of her honeymoon, where she was surprised to find the artwork in her hotel bathroom waiting for her.
Dafangguangfo Huayanjing shu (“Commentary on the Flower Garland Sutra”) by Korea; Early Printing (1087)
An exceptionally rare and well-preserved 11th-century fascicle from a critical Chinese-language edition of the Flower Garland Sutra (Huayan Buddhism’s foundational text), printed in Korea from blocks engraved in Hangzhou, China.?? The fascicle pays testament to the vital role of print in spreading Buddhist thought throughout East Asia. The history of this fascicle serves as an interesting example of how influential Buddhist texts were created, transmuted and transmitted across East Asia – the current being influenced by advances made in printing techniques in Korea, and transport links that enabled influential monks to travel and engage in dialogue with other leading Buddhist scholars across national borders.??
John Lennon, Bag One, 1970
First edition, first printing, one of 300 sets, the poem and 13 prints uniformly signed in pencil lower right by Lennon and numbered lower left. Complete sets of any iteration of Bag One are extremely rare in commerce. This set has stayed in the possession of the original purchaser until now and has rarely been opened since publication. Unusually, it retains all its original packaging, including the unbroken paper wraparound band holding the lithographs together, the interior cardboard bag linings, and the small metal key for the golden zip-lock that is often missing.
The drawings were created by Lennon in two bursts of artistic inspiration in 1969: the earliest images depict the public events of their marriage and honeymoon; the others are more personal images showing Lennon and Ono in various sexual positions. With typical Lennon wit, the portfolio’s title punningly combines Bagism, the Hindu term bhagwan, and the fact of its presentation in a bag. The design recalls both the simplicity of Richard Hamilton’s sleeve design for the White Album and the iconic white outfits worn by John and Yoko for the wedding in Gibraltar.
Peter Harrington Rare Books at Frieze Seoul 2023,
September 6th – 9th, COEX, frieze.com/frieze-seoul