Saturday 10 June 2023

unified floating object (10. 798)

From Hyōryū-ki-shu’s “Archives of Castaways” of the late Edo period when the island nation’s isolationist policies and suspicions of foreigners was still prevailing, we learn about the strange, illustrated account of a fishing crew salvaging a mysterious saucer-shaped utsuro-bune (虚舟, a hollow vessel) off the eastern coast of Japan in 1803. 

Bringing this boat ashore for investigation, they discovered strikingly beautiful young woman with red and white hair and speaking no known language inside, clutching a wooden box she refused to release. Pictures show her unusual dress and equipage as well as alien symbols. Speculating on the nature of this visitor and close encounter at the time (an ever since), villagers from Jōshū thought this woman might be a Russian or Bengali princess fleeing an unhappy marriage, guarding either her dowery or husband’s severed head in the box and pragmatically, not wanting to draw unwanted attention from the lord of the prefecture rather than out of fear or xenophobia, and decided to send her back to where she came from in her well but bafflingly provisioned and seaworthy boat. More at the links above.