Chinese Hell Scroll
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03-06-2017, 03:42 PM
Chinese Hell Scroll
This is an 18th-century Chinese hell scroll that I recently purchased. The visible area of the painting is 22.75 x 52.5-inches, not including the frame, which has been cropped out. It depicts the King of Mt. Tai (Taishan Wang), a judge who presides over the seventh of ten courts of hell in the Chinese underworld. He sits at a bench overseeing the torture of sinners in the bottom left and right corners. The idea of purgatory first appeared in China in the 7th-century and brought with it the concept of the Ten Judges or Kings. Souls would be brought before a magistrate and suffer punishment for a given sin before being sent onto the next court and so forth. After suffering for a three year period, the soul would finally be sent onto their next life. This is actually a combination of native Chinese and Hindu-Buddhist belief systems. As far back as the Han Dynasty hell was originally considered an otherworldly bureaucracy where souls were kept en masse. With the coming of Buddhism from India, a different view of the underworld evolved wherein souls would be reborn in one of six paths (deva, asura, human, animal, hungry ghost, and hell) and burn off any bad karma via suffering in life until they were pure enough to be reborn in a Buddha realm.

Two of the Ten Judges stand as perfect examples of the intermixing of the two belief systems. The aforementioned seventh judge, King of Mt. Tai, is an allusion to a famous Chinese holy mountain. The fifth judge, King Yama, is a Buddhist holdover from Hinduism who originally ruled as the god of the underworld.

Not everyone living in medieval China could read Buddhist scriptures, so the purgatories were eventually illustrated as a powerful teaching tool. Nothing says behave like seeing a demon eviscerating someone in full bloody color. Such “Hell Scrolls” remain quite popular even to this day. Charles D. Orzech suggests that one of the reasons why they remained popular through the end of dynastic China was because they served as not so subtle reminders to be a law abiding citizen. Otherworldly judges doling out painful punishments mirrored the actions of their earthbound counterparts. Real-world magistrates were known for using torture to gain confessions. One such device was used to slowly fracture the ankles and shins.

Those interested can see more hell scrolls here.

http://people.reed.edu/~brashiek/scrolls/index.html

The scroll was photographed by Michael Perkins. Portions of the left and right margins are obscured by the frame. I plan to have it reframed at a later time.

Sources:

* https://www.uibk.ac.at/theol/cover/conta...orzech.pdf
* Teiser, S. F. (2003). The scripture on the ten kings and the making of purgatory in medieval Chinese Buddhism. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

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03-06-2017, 06:39 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
Sounds like a plot by lawyers, ... all those courts.
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03-06-2017, 07:15 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
Wow - that's so graphic! Confused The impalement is especially disturbing. The women at the bottom right - are they in a pool of blood, or something?

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03-06-2017, 07:21 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
(03-06-2017 07:15 PM)kim Wrote:  Wow - that's so graphic! Confused The impalement is especially disturbing. The women at the bottom right - are they in a pool of blood, or something?

I'm honestly not sure. It could be blood or lava. It's hard to keep track of all the different tortures. My scroll is actually pretty docile. Other hell scrolls are far worse. Here's a detail from a 20th-century hell scroll.

[Image: jjqcte.png]
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03-06-2017, 07:24 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
(03-06-2017 03:42 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  This is an 18th-century Chinese hell scroll that I recently purchased. The visible area of the painting is 22.75 x 52.5-inches, not including the frame, which has been cropped out. It depicts the King of Mt. Tai (Taishan Wang), a judge who presides over the seventh of ten courts of hell in the Chinese underworld. He sits at a bench overseeing the torture of sinners in the bottom left and right corners. The idea of purgatory first appeared in China in the 7th-century and brought with it the concept of the Ten Judges or Kings. Souls would be brought before a magistrate and suffer punishment for a given sin before being sent onto the next court and so forth. After suffering for a three year period, the soul would finally be sent onto their next life. This is actually a combination of native Chinese and Hindu-Buddhist belief systems. As far back as the Han Dynasty hell was originally considered an otherworldly bureaucracy where souls were kept en masse. With the coming of Buddhism from India, a different view of the underworld evolved wherein souls would be reborn in one of six paths (deva, asura, human, animal, hungry ghost, and hell) and burn off any bad karma via suffering in life until they were pure enough to be reborn in a Buddha realm.

Two of the Ten Judges stand as perfect examples of the intermixing of the two belief systems. The aforementioned seventh judge, King of Mt. Tai, is an allusion to a famous Chinese holy mountain. The fifth judge, King Yama, is a Buddhist holdover from Hinduism who originally ruled as the god of the underworld.

Not everyone living in medieval China could read Buddhist scriptures, so the purgatories were eventually illustrated as a powerful teaching tool. Nothing says behave like seeing a demon eviscerating someone in full bloody color. Such “Hell Scrolls” remain quite popular even to this day. Charles D. Orzech suggests that one of the reasons why they remained popular through the end of dynastic China was because they served as not so subtle reminders to be a law abiding citizen. Otherworldly judges doling out painful punishments mirrored the actions of their earthbound counterparts. Real-world magistrates were known for using torture to gain confessions. One such device was used to slowly fracture the ankles and shins.

Those interested can see more hell scrolls here.

http://people.reed.edu/~brashiek/scrolls/index.html

The scroll was photographed by Michael Perkins. Portions of the left and right margins are obscured by the frame. I plan to have it reframed at a later time.

Sources:

* https://www.uibk.ac.at/theol/cover/conta...orzech.pdf
* Teiser, S. F. (2003). The scripture on the ten kings and the making of purgatory in medieval Chinese Buddhism. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

[Image: pvPmGC.png]


I took a class on Chinese art history when I was in college and I came across an ancient painting of a version of Chinese hell that had it's hell bound souls in a cauldron of steaming shit. The unfortunate people were trying to keep from drowning in the shit so their heads were barely above the water/shit line, however to add to their problems bees were swarming around their faces stinging their faces. So your choices were:

1. Take a deep breath and go under water into the shit for a while and not get stung.

or

2. Keep you face above the shit, breath normally but get stung all over your face by a swarm of bees.

Not sure what I'd do. Consider

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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03-06-2017, 07:33 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
(03-06-2017 07:24 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  I took a class on Chinese art history when I was in college and I came across an ancient painting of a version of Chinese hell that had it's hell bound souls in a cauldron of steaming shit. The unfortunate people were trying to keep from drowning in the shit so their heads were barely above the water/shit line, however to add to their problems bees were swarming around their faces stinging their faces. So your choices were:

1. Take a deep breath and go under water into the shit for a while and not get stung.

or

2. Keep you face above the shit, breath normally but get stung all over your face by a swarm of bees.

Not sure what I'd do. Consider

That would suck. The following image comes from a 12-century Japanese hell scroll. It's called the "Hell of Ecrement"

[Image: desktop-1445280748.jpg]
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03-06-2017, 07:46 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
That is fascinating and disturbingly! Thanks for sharing.

It looks a bit like the scribblings of a future serial killer.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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03-06-2017, 08:01 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
(03-06-2017 07:33 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  
(03-06-2017 07:24 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  I took a class on Chinese art history when I was in college and I came across an ancient painting of a version of Chinese hell that had it's hell bound souls in a cauldron of steaming shit. The unfortunate people were trying to keep from drowning in the shit so their heads were barely above the water/shit line, however to add to their problems bees were swarming around their faces stinging their faces. So your choices were:

1. Take a deep breath and go under water into the shit for a while and not get stung.

or

2. Keep you face above the shit, breath normally but get stung all over your face by a swarm of bees.

Not sure what I'd do. Consider

That would suck. The following image comes from a 12-century Japanese hell scroll. It's called the "Hell of Ecrement"

[Image: desktop-1445280748.jpg]

Oops. My mistake. I guess it was Japanese hell. The art history class I took covered Japanese art as well. At any rate, it sounds quite horrible.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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03-06-2017, 09:04 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
(03-06-2017 08:01 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  Oops. My mistake. I guess it was Japanese hell. The art history class I took covered Japanese art as well. At any rate, it sounds quite horrible.

No worries. Each culture has similar hells due to Buddhism. It may have been Chinese.
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03-06-2017, 09:27 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
(03-06-2017 07:21 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  
(03-06-2017 07:15 PM)kim Wrote:  Wow - that's so graphic! Confused The impalement is especially disturbing. The women at the bottom right - are they in a pool of blood, or something?

I'm honestly not sure. It could be blood or lava. It's hard to keep track of all the different tortures. My scroll is actually pretty docile. Other hell scrolls are far worse. Here's a detail from a 20th-century hell scroll.

[Image: jjqcte.png]

Ok - a human getting cut in half by a giant paper cutter. Grisly. I no longer wonder about Manga. Shy

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