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Follower of Hanabusa Itchô (?), 1652-1724
Demons and Ghosts
About 1700

Although Japanese painters explored themes and aesthetics that were often lofty and refined, the traditions in which they worked were not entirely humorless. Zen painters, in particular, were known for a playfulness that sometimes bordered on irreverence. Little is known about the artist of this hand scroll, but the work seems to fit the Zen mode. Most of the subjects depicted in this work were regarded as auspicious for one reason or another, but the artist seems intent on lampooning them. Depictions of Shoki, the Demon Queller were often hung as talisman to ward off evil. Here, he is shown being mocked by the very demons he is supposed to subdue. In the next scene, three travelers with a telescope use the elongated head of Fukurokuju, one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, as a viewing platform. The quick, sketch-like style of brushwork the artist uses throughout this scroll enhances the lighthearted treatment of these subjects.

Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gift of Ruth and Sherman Lee, 98.30.3

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Copyright (c) 2000, Mayumi Ishida, All Rights Reserved Last Updated: April 11, 2000