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Album, ink on paper
Sheet: 34.2 x 38.3 cm (13 7/16 x 15 1/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund in honor of Dr. Ju-hsi Chou and Gift of various donors to the department of Asian Art (by exchange) 2004.1.29
This leaf belongs to the album’s second series of narratives, Ten Kings of Hells. It demonstrates a Chinese-Buddhist approach in which the netherworld is divided into ten realms, each ruled by one of these kings. This particular version portrays the king in a benevolent guise, though his identity remains unclear. He holds an ivory plaque, is draped in a robe, and wears a hat that sports two slender side arms—similar to the headgear worn by Song dynasty emperors. A vertical scroll hangs to his left, depicting in the lower two-thirds a rectangular architectural plan with buildings aligned in a symmetrical arrangement not unlike a Buddhist temple or a Confucian shrine. Above, the scene also features a building and could show a specific mountain. One of the Ten Kings is known as the King of Taishan (or Mt. Tai). This depiction would represent a unique treatment of the king, not shared with other renditions of the same figure elsewhere.
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