The Fourth King of Hell

late 1300s
Image: 63 x 45.3 cm (24 13/16 x 17 13/16 in.); Overall: 136.2 x 58.9 cm (53 5/8 x 23 3/16 in.)
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.
Location: not on view

Download, Print and Share

Did You Know?

As the concept of salvation became increasingly more emphasized in Buddhist schools in medieval East Asia, the gruesome depiction of various hells was given an important role: to promote Buddhist ethics. In the Buddhist infernal otherworld, the Ten Kings of Hell serve as judges of the deceased to determine their fates, including the type and severity of punishment.


Originally part of a set of ten, this hanging scroll depicts the Fourth King of Hell. Accompanied by his secretary, the king with bulging eyes is seated at the center, overseeing how well his verdict is being conducted. On the bottom, sinners are suffering in a giant cauldron filled with boiling water, constantly pierced by a guard’s burning spears. Ready-made Buddhist paintings from China, created in professional workshops in the port city of Ningbo, are believed to be prototypes for this Korean scroll’s grotesque imagery.
The Fourth King of Hell

The Fourth King of Hell

late 1300s

Korea, Goryeo dynasty (918–1392)

Visually Similar Artworks

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.