Narrative Handscrolls

Title

Narrative Handscrolls

Description

Both secular and non-secular divisions of artists capitalized on the communicative functionality of narrative hand-scrolls (emaki). Illustrating legendary or historical narratives these emaki have the unique characteristic of compiling all the text either at the beginning or the end of the scroll, forming a continuous narrative; instead of the of usual intermittent format dividing up the visual narrative.

For the non secular hand-scrolls, Buddhist art was central to court life as the focus for prayers and rituals and with this support from the court, the Buddhist monks developed grand narratives depicting legends specific to their temples. The emaki scenes had universal accessibility and were easily read by laymen and nobles alike. The monks themselves are the artists of the emaki and adopted the popular hand scroll style utilized among court painters.

For the secular hand-scrolls a popular technique used by the artist was employing the freedom of artistic licensee to emphasizes the narrative combining stylistic techniques such as otoko-e and tsukuri-e, utilized in the court.

It is important to keep in mind that the images of these emaki scenes depicted in this collection are supposed to be view not as a singular still frame, but as a continuous narrative unrolling upwards of 30 meters.

Buddhist art was central to court life as the focus for prayers and rituals and with this support from the court, the Buddhist monks developed grand narratives depicting legends specific to their temples. The emaki scenes had universal accessibility and were easily read by laymen and nobles alike. The monks themselves are the artists of the emaki and adopted the popular hand scroll style utilized among court painters.

Items in the Narrative Handscrolls Collection

Secular Handscroll: Ban Dainagon Ekotoba
In response to the large fire in 866 at Kyoto, historically known as the Ōtenmon conspiracy, the retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa commissioned a set of emaki in 1177 to please the angry spirit of Tomo no Yoshio, the great counselor of the state, who is…

Religious Handscroll: The Flying Storehouse
    Shigisan engi emaki (Legends of Mt. Shigi scroll) shows the respect for monks, myth, and magic depicting the famous story of the miraculous alms bowl that attached itself to the frugal farmer's grain house and brought it back to the…