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Horizontal Scroll with Men and Beasts

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China Anonymous, Chinese
Horizontal Scroll with Men and Beasts, n. d.
Paint on Paper
10 3/8 in. x 231 7/8 in. (26.35 cm x 588.96 cm)

Object Type: Scroll
Technique: Brushwork
Creation Place: Asia, China
Credit Line: Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Accession Number: 2003.0.8

A copy of a 17th c. handscroll by Kano Shoun (1637-1702)
(now in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art: F1998.26.2)

Copies of old paintings, funpon, were important in teaching young artists. This particular handscroll dates to the mid-late Edo Period and was probably used in the Kano workshop. With ink outlines and partial coloring it closely copies a handscroll by Kano Shoun, who modeled his work on a richly colored and more detailed handscroll produced in 1522 by Kano Motonobu (1476-1559). The Scripps handscroll has six scenes, missing the final scenes of the Shoun and Motonobu works.

According to legend, a giant named Shuten Doji lived in the mountains outside Kyoto and regularly kidnapped young women to eat. In 995 Emperor Ichijo (r. 986-1011) ordered Minamoto no Raiko (Minamoto no Yorimitsu 948-1021) to kill the monster. Minamoto and his men, dressed as mountain monks, yamabushi, went into the forests and encountered an old woman doing laundry by a stream. (scene 1) She said that young women from the capital were abducted and forced to serve Shuten Doji; when he tired of them, he and his ogre attendants ate their flesh and drank their blood. The six warrior/monks find Shuten Doki’s fortress and encounter a group of ogres who take them to the Demon’s Cave, Oni no iwaya. (scene 2) While waiting to meet Shuten Doji, they plan their attack. (scene 3) Shuten Doki greets Minamoto and his men. (scene 4) and treats them to a banquet of human flesh (scene 5). Minamoto offers wine, sake, to the giant. After Shuten Doji has eaten and drunk his fill, he falls asleep surrounded by the women he has kidnapped. Outside the six warrior/monks gather to attack the monster. (scene 6) In the final scenes of the original 16th and 17th c. handscrolls (but not in this copy), the warriors attack and decapitate Shuten Doji, although his severed head flies around and tries to bite Minamoto Raiko. The yamabushi free the women and take the giant’s head back to Kyoto for display.

No text, seals, etc.

Ink and paint on paper with mica content. Brown silk brocade mounting at the right end.

Object Description
Long, horizontal Chinese scroll with seven scenes of men and beasts. The first scene shows men taking to a crying woman by a riverbank. The second shows the men confronting demons. In the third scene the demons are conspiring and in the fourth the men are talking to each other. The fifth scene shows the men and beasts meeting, and the sixth shows them eating and drinking together (a leg and pot of blood are being consumed). The last scene focuses on a large, sick beast on a bed, cared for by ten women. Men are outside of the gated house, and two women outside watch the scene unfold. The scenes are only partially colored, and it appears to be an unfinished work.

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