Saturday, January 13, 2018

Depictions of hell in Japanese art include smiling demons

By Claire Voon
Detail of the “Hell for Priests Scroll’ (12-13th c.), showing a demon jailor leading sinners to the river of excrement (Collection of the Nara National Museum, all images courtesy PIE International)
There’s a special place in hell for a sinner of every kind, as Buddhist ideas of the netherworld suggest. A book recently published by PIE International focuses on such artworks made in Japan, compiling historical examples of prominent paintings and scrolls that are devoted entirely to man’s understanding of a brutal underworld. Hell in Japanese Art is a massive book, totaling 592 pages of illustrations and related texts by researchers Kajitani Ryoji and Nishida Naoki, printed in both English and Japan. The volume features artworks created between the 12th and 19th centuries, and focuses largely on those designated as Japanese National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties, meaning that they possess exceptional historical or artistic value. [More]
‘Hell in Japanese Art,” published by PIE International