The Seven Fortunes and the Sev

A significant work of Japanese art that is of particular interest is the hand scrollsThe Seven Fortunes and the Seven Misfortunes byMaruyama Okyo of the Edo period. These scrolls by Okyo are a pictorial explanation of the real-life blessings and evils that, according to Buddhist philosophy, result from previous Karma (Mason 280). The Seven Fortunes and the Seven Misfortunesis comprised of three scrolls totaling 150 feet in length by 12 1/4 inches high.For the purpose of this paper, I will focus on the two scrolls containing the "misfortunes".
The twoscrolls that illustrate the Seven Misfortunes show disastrous events inflicted on man and mankind by nature and by humans. They were commissioned in 1768 by the Emmann Templeoutside of Kyoto to explain the Buddhist Karma beliefs. Okyo painted realistic scenes for every "misfortune" or "evil" of the Buddhist philosophy – Earthquake, flood, fire, onis, war, robbery, and sickness (Joly 378). Maruyama Okyo was a master of realism, a technique adopted from outside influences (especially the Dutch), which became popular during the Edo period. The realistic qualities conveyed in Okyo's images of the Seven Misfortunes are moving and frightening.
One particular painting in the scrolls shows with vivid detail the demise of an unfortunate man. This man is naked, with a fierce bull on either side of him. The man's legs have been tied to one hind legof each bull, and their tails have been set on fire. We can imagine the bulls bucking wildly as the man's fragile body is torn apart from the great force of the furious bulls.Blood spurts from the torn cavity of the man's chest as he screams in terror while the bulls run in wild agony, as flames spread from their tails up towards their hinds. Just by looking at this painting, one can imaging the scene actually coming to life. This scene is painted with tremendous energy, it truly…


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