The Fourth King of Hell

The Fourth King of Hell

late 1300s

Hanging scroll, ink, color, and gold ink on silk

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.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund and museum purchase from various donors by exchange 2019.224


Fun Fact

The image of torturous hells was used to educate Buddhist lay believers to improve their daily ethics in line with Buddhist teachings.


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 fate, including the type and severity of punishment. Originally part of a set of ten, this hanging scroll depicts the Fourth King of Hell.

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