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A troupe of acrobats performs remarkable feats, using bamboo poles and supports as props for balancing acts. This form of entertainment came to Japan from China in the seventh century; later, a type of acrobatics called “spider dancing” was sponsored by aristocrats and military leaders. With growing urbanization in the Edo period, acrobats began to perform in cities and towns for the enjoyment of all classes of society. Humorous poems scattered throughout this scroll make comic comparisons between acrobatic feats and the hardships of daily life.

Acrobats, Handscroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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