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Looking at the meaning of the individual kanji doesn't help much--Jisho says each means: old or ancient; earth or ground; figured cloth or beautiful or thin twilled silk fabric; and talk--and although I was able to find an entry on [奇譚]{きたん}, I still can't fully piece together what this phrase means.

As far as reading goes, I get the feeling it's something along the lines of [古え]{いにしえ}の[地綺譚]{ちきたん}, but I'm not certain.

With regard to the origin of this phrase, I have no idea. I'm less interested in this than the other two, so if you can't answer this that's fine. It's more or less a general curiosity.


Note: I am looking at this book, which is where I found the phrase.

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Parse it as 古【いにし】えの地【ち】 + 綺譚【きたん】.

  • 古えの: =古【いにしえ】の; of the ancient times, ancient (so-called "no-adjective")
  • : place, land
  • 綺譚: (beautiful/mysterious) tale, story (according to this page, it's a word made up by Kafu Nagai in the early 20th century. 奇譚 literally means "mysterious tale" and 綺譚 literally means "beautiful tale", but the difference is not probably important here. Now this word is found in the title of many books.)

So those amount to "ancient place's story" or "tales of the ancient land". As for the origin, I think it's just the subtitle of this specific book.

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