The Demon and Attendants in Hell

Among the National Gallery of Victoria’s newest acquisitions is this small and intricate okimono, carved out of ivory and finished with ink. It comes from the Meiji Period (1868–1912) in Japan, and is titled ‘The Demon and Attendants in Hell’. I stand to be corrected about this, but it appears to be a Shinto rather than a Buddhist vision of hell, for whereas Buddhist hells (see here and here) give Dante a run for his money, Shinto hells are not very hellish at all. This one reminds me of a children’s playground.

Japan - The Demon and the Attendents in Hell, Okimono (1868–1912)a.JPG

One comment

  1. I do stand to correct you! The vision is very sombre and lacking in warmth. Children’s playgrounds, on the other hand, are places where we experience extraordinary warmth (the nice kind).

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