Chinese Hell Scroll
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03-06-2017, 09:35 PM
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
The old joke goes that the dead sinner was taken to the gates of hell and shown two doors. He could listen for a minute or so to what was behind the doors but not open them. Then he'd have to decide which door he'd be taken through. Behind the first door he could hear loud thumps and bangs, followed by agonized screams. Not promising. But behind the second door all he could make out was kind of a serene rustle of faint voices. Didn't sound too bad. He told his warder it'd be door two for him. The door was opened, and beyond was an endless sea of the foulest excrement. Millions of heads were visible just barely breaking its surface, all gently whispering "Don't make waves. Don't make waves".
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07-06-2017, 06:38 PM (This post was last modified: 07-06-2017 07:11 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: Chinese Hell Scroll
I attempted to translate the inscription on the right middle margin of the piece in order to determine the exact date. With some help, the characters and translation are as follows:

(Left column) 天運庚辰年吉月吉日

"An auspicious day and month in the Gengcheng year of the Tianyun reign era"

(Right column) 李槑清供奉

"Offering by Li Meiqing"

If the painting is truly from the 18th-century (as listed when I purchased it), the two years that fall under the Gengcheng cycle are 1700 and 1760. I'm guessing it's the latter. But the thing that is most interesting to me is the name of the reign era, which designates the years during which a particular emperor was in power. Tianyun was used almost exclusively by Chinese rebel groups who refused to conform to the official reign eras under the foreign-ruled Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Fans of Shaw Brothers films will know these rebels as the Chinese boxers who used martial arts against their Manchu rulers. Think The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (a.k.a. Shaolin Master Killer).
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