U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper-turned-college graduate with a degree in Anthropology and minors in Chinese and Art History. I wanted to be a professional artist in my younger years, but I really don't draw anymore. I make art exclusively on the computer now. Cartoons were my dominant mode of expression for years, but I've transitioned more into photomanipulations.
Favourite style of art: Tibetan Buddhist
Operating System: Windows 8 (unfortunately)
Favourite cartoon character: Freakazoid!
Personal Quote: I would if I could, but I won't because I can't
Two of the Ten Judges stand as perfect examples of the intermixing of the two belief systems. The aforementioned seventh judge, King of Mt. Tai, is an allusion to a famous Chinese holy mountain. The fifth judge, King Yama, is a Buddhist holdover from Hinduism who originally ruled as the god of the underworld.
Not everyone living in medieval China could read Buddhist scriptures, so the purgatories were eventually illustrated as a powerful teaching tool. Nothing says behave like seeing a demon eviscerating someone in full bloody color. Such “Hell Scrolls” remain quite popular even to this day. Charles D. Orzech suggests that one of the reasons why they remained popular through the end of dynastic China was because they served as not so subtle reminders to be a law abiding citizen. Otherworldly judges doling out painful punishments mirrored the actions of their earthbound counterparts. Real-world magistrates were known for using torture to gain confessions. One such device was used to slowly fracture the ankles and shins.
Those interested can see more hell scrolls here.
The scroll was photographed by Michael Perkins. Portions of the left and right margins are obscured by the frame. I plan to have it reframed at a later time.
* Teiser, S. F. (2003). The scripture on the ten kings and the making of purgatory in medieval Chinese Buddhism. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.
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).