Scenes of the Buddhist Hell

Shōsai 松斎 Japanese

Not on view

This dynamic painting depicts the Buddhist hell. Most of the composition shows detailed descriptions of the types of suffering that await souls reborn in hell, with an array of punishments meted out by muscular, half-nude demons with red or green skin. In the upper left corner, for example, two naked figures on a platform attempt to escape as a green-skinned demon beats them. Nearby, another hapless soul is bound upside down to a tree, watching in horror and awaiting his own punishment. Elsewhere, demons march lost souls into a pool of molten lava. A scene in the bottom third of the picture shows a group of children in a graveyard, some attempting to escape from an approaching demon. Others beg for mercy from Jizō, who appears here as a monk. Another scene in an upper register of the painting shows individuals kneeling before the King of Hell, who sits at a large table. He is flanked by attendants that assess the various sins committed by the deceased in his or her previous life.

Scenes of the Buddhist Hell, Shōsai 松斎 (Japanese, active second half of the 19th century), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Japan

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.