Jigoku Zoshi (Scroll of the Hells) (地獄草紙)
Jigoku Zoshi are 12th-century hand scrolls depicting Buddhist hells. There were four hand scrolls called Jigoku Zoshi: the one in the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) collection (National Treasure), the one in the Nara National Museum (NNM) collection (National Treasure), the first edition of Masuda family scroll, and the second edition of the Masuda family scroll.
Today, it is regarded that the second edition of the Masuda family scroll does not depict hells and it is now called 'Hekija-e (Exorcist Scroll).'
The TNM scroll consists of four paintings of hells: Hakkaru jigoku, Kamatsuchu jigoku, Unkamu jigoku, and Uenkaseki jigoku. The NNM scroll consists of seven paintings: Hell of Excrement, Hell of Measures, Hell of the Iron Mortar, Hell of the Flaming Cock, Hell of the Black Sand Cloud, Hell of Pus and Blood, and Hell of Foxes and Wolves. The old Masuda-ke ko version consists of seven paintings: Hell of the Flaming Elephant, Hell of Shrieking Sounds, Hell of the Shooting Flames, Hell of the Skinning, Hell of Boiling Feces, Hell of Dismemberment, and Hell of Iron Mountain.
A theory states that both NNM and TNM scrolls, together with the "Gaki Zoshi" (Scroll of hungry ghosts), "Yamai no Soshi" (Diseases and Deformities), and "Hekija-e" (Exorcist Scroll), are part of the "Rokudo-e" (Paintings of the Six Paths) which was commissioned by the Emperor Goshirakawa and recorded to be stored in the treasure house of Rengeo-in Temple. Although it cannot be concluded that these scrolls were those stored in the treasure house of the Rengeo-in Temple, these scrolls are considered to be produced in the period of the Emperor Goshirakawa, that is, around the 12th century.
Nara National Museum Scroll
It is also called 'The Hara Family Scroll' because of its former owner.
Color on paper, Hand scroll
Size: height 26.5cm, length 453.9cm. This scroll consists of seven painted scenes, six of which are accompanied by text, and the seventh scene is not. The sixth scene had not been accompanied by text, but its text was found after WWII that was stored in some place, and it was affixed to the designated place on the scroll. Therefore it is assumed that this scroll is not a whole but only a part of a huge hand scroll that survived. The scenes were based on descriptions of the sixteen lesser hells given in "Kisekyo" (literally, "Sutra of the World Arising"). Famous paintings are 'The Flaming Cock' in which a huge cock is breathing fire and 'Iron Mortar' in which ogres are grinding the dead in an iron grinder.
According to "Koko gafu" (Painting manual of antiquities), this hand scroll was preserved in Daisho-in Temple in Higashi-Okubo, Tokyo until around 1887 and then owned by Tomitaro HARA (Sankei HARA) who is known as the founder of the Sankei Garden in Yokohama.
Because the seventh scene is not accompanied by text, it is assumed to be a picture of the 'Hell of Foxes and Wolves' or 'Hell of the River of Ashes.'
A scroll fragment of the 'Hell of the Single Bronze Cauldron' in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is thought to have originally been part of the NNM scroll.
Tokyo National Museum Scroll
It is also called 'The Anju-in Temple Scroll' because of its former owner.
Color on paper, Handscroll
Size: height 26.1cm, length 243.49cm. This scroll consists of four painted scenes accompanied by text. It is assumed that the current binding of the scroll is not the original and therefore it is not a whole but only a part of a huge hand scroll that survived. This scroll depicts four of sixteen subsidiary hells within the Hell of Wailing stated in "Shobonenjo-kyo Sutra" (Meditation on the Correct Teaching Sutra). It is pointed out that fires in the third scene, the 'Hell of Cloud, Fire, and Mist,' look like kaen kohai (halo whose shape is like a fire) of Buddhist status such as Fudo Myoo (Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings). The text of fourth scene reads 'Uenkaseki' (Rain of Burning Stones) but it should be 'Kenrin' (Forests of Swords). This scroll was stored originally in Anju-in Temple in Okayama Prefecture and came into the possession of the national government in 1950.
Masuda-ke ko version
It was originally a hand scroll consisting of seven painted scenes accompanied by text, but after WWII it was divided into each scene to make a hanging scroll and scattered into different collections. Art historian Taichiro KOBAYASHI pointed out that the scenes of hell depicted in this scroll were based on "Hotatsu mondo hoo shamon kyo" (also called "Mezurasetsu kyo") in "Butsumyokyo" sutra. This scroll is also called 'The Masuda Family Scroll' because of its former owner, Takashi MASUDA (Donno MASUDA), prominent entrepreneur who is also known for his passion in Japanese tea ceremony and collection of art. This scroll is also called 'Shamon Jigoku Zoshi' (Stories of Hell for Buddhist Priests) because most of the people depicted in this scroll who fell into the hell were Buddhist priests.
The scenes are in the following collections:
Hell of the Flaming Elephant, in The Gotoh Museum (Tokyo) collection (Important Cultural Property)
Hell of Shrieking Sounds, in the Seattle Art Museum (USA) collection
Hell of the Shooting Flames; private collection, an entry at the Special Exhibition 'Exquisite: Paintings of the 11th - 13th Centuries' (2007 the Nara National Museum).
Hell of the Skinning; private collection, an entry at the Special Exhibition 'Exquisite: Paintings of the 11th - 13th Centuries' (2007 the Nara National Museum).
The Masuda Family also had a hand scroll called the 'second edition of the Masuda family Hell Scroll,' but this picture depicts benevolent deities who expel demons instead of depicting tortures in the hells, so it is now called "Hekija-e" (Exorcist Scroll) (in the Nara National Museum collection). It should be noted that 'Kando no oni' (the Demon of Punishment) (Important Cultural Property) in the Fukuoka City Museum of Art is said to be one piece of the Scroll of Hells, but it is in a different lineage from those described above.