Ingakyo (1922?) scroll by Masuda, Takashi (1848-1938).
  • Ingakyo (1922?) scroll by Masuda, Takashi (1848-1938).
  • Yamai no soshi.
  • Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759), part 2.
  • Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759), part 1.
  • Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759), part 4.
  • Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759), part 3.
  • Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759), part 6.
  • Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759), part 5.
  • Ingakyo, Teaching on karma.
  • Ingakyo, Extinguishing the fire.
  • Ingakyo, Dragon in an urn.

Chinese and Japanese Scroll Painting: The Ingalls Library and Sherman E. Lee

The Ingalls Library Scroll Collection contains approximately fifty Chinese and Japanese scrolls, including a number of them purchased from or donated by Sherman E. Lee (1918-2008). Some of the scrolls are limited original productions by the scholars' studios, whereas others are reproductions of fine classical works.

Scroll painting can be loosely categorized into two types: landscape and narrative. Poetry and calligraphy often accompany the scenes to evoke and enhance the subject in question. The earliest Chinese scrolls date from the late 4th century, and were mainly used as Buddhist teaching tools. The continuous scroll form was fully developed by the Tang dynasty. During the Tang dynasty figure and narrative painting was considered more prestigious than landscape genre. However, this hierarchy was reversed during the Song and Yuan dynasty.

Format of Scrolls

A horizontal scroll unfolds from right to left and is usually viewed flat on a table. Generally such scrolls are displayed one division at a time. The viewers have an opportunity to follow the continuity of scenery from right to left. The unique format of scrolls invites viewers to travel across panoramic views of landscape. They often present continuous and shifting narratives and lyrical illustrations. In Japan, a horizontal scroll is called Makimono (12th and 13th centuries).

A vertical scroll can be suspended on walls in its entirety, giving the viewers an overview of the scenery and figures simultaneously. In Japan, such scrolls are called Kakemono.

Materials of scrolls

Scrolls can be made from a roll of papyrus, silk, parchment, or xuan paper (rice paper), which can be painted upon. They are mounted on quality silk brocade and wood dowels. Silk was usually used until the invention of paper in China around the first century A.D. Early paper was made from rice, straw, bark, reeds and bamboo. These early papers were more absorbent than silk and facilitated more spontaneous application of ink and pigments. Most modern scrolls are on xuan paper. The scroll is attached to a wooden dowel and decorative embroidery serves as the cover.

Scrolls in the Ingalls Library Purchased from or Donated by Sherman E. Lee

Yamai no soshi
病の草紙 : 雞に目をつつかせる女

This exquisite scroll probably dates back to the early 1900's; however, the subject matter of diseases and deformities can be traced back to the 12th century. The Japanese Buddhist view of the human body and its conditions has been studied by many scholars using such scroll fragments, known as yamai no soshi or "notes on illness." According to scholars the depiction of various bodily conditions and healing methods are the Buddhist reflection on karma and reincarnation. Some depictions portray birth, old age and death.

This scroll fragment depicts a sick female whose eye is being pecked by a cock. It is probable that she suffers from vision loss. According to the Wheel of Life, the cock is one of the "three poisons," representing human greed.

Chang Jiang ji xue tu by Wang Wei (699-759)

This scroll is a reproduction of Wang Wei's renowned landscape work during the Tang dynasty. Wang Wei was both a well-established painter and a poet. Even though Wang Wei was a devoted Buddhist, he rarely painted Buddhist subjects. His strong brushstrokes contrasted with light ink washes have been considered to be the chief representative of the so-called ink landscape painting. Although none of his original paintings survived, his artistic achievements endured. Many painters from later periods continued to evoke his poetry and hermitism in their own works.

Ingakyo (1922?) scroll by Masuda, Takashi (1848-1938)

This colorful scroll introduces illustrations and pictorial explanations of sutra the Buddhist scripture. This particular sutra is called the Sutra of Cause and Effect. The content of the sutra is copied in the lower half, while the upper half illustrates scenes described below.

Here Sakyamuni is visited by fifty-six arhats who have come to receive his teaching on karma, the Buddhist law of cause and effect. Sakyamuni demonstrates his mastery of the delusional mind by sitting in a stone cave covered by fire set upon by an evil dragon. The arhats tried to extinguish the fire but their efforts fail. Nonetheless, the evil dragon retreats into the urn, and the arhats decide to spread Sakyamuni's miracle teaching to different kingdoms. Such depictions of Sakyamuni's life have been a popular subject for both Chinese and Japanese artists.


Hoyake Amida engi ; Fudo riyaku engi. Tokyo : Chuo Koronsha, 1995.
Call #: ND1053.4 .H69 1995

Lee, Sherman E. Chinese landscape painting. [Cleveland] : Cleveland Museum of Art; distributed by Abrams [New York, 1962].
Call #: ND1366 .L43 1962

Liu, Yang. Fantastic mountains : Chinese landscape painting from the Shanghai Museum = Ling shan : Shanghai bo wu guan cang Zhongguo Ming Qing shan shui hua. Sydney : Art Gallery of New South Wales, c2004.
Call #: ND1366.72 .L58 2004

Sankei mandara to jisha engi : shuki tokubetsuten. Wakayaka : Wakayama Shiritsu
Hakubutsukan, 2002.
Call #: ND1432.J3 S26 2002

Walmsley, Lewis Calvin. Wang Wei : the Painter-Poet. Rutland, Vt. : Tuttle, 1968.
Call #: ND1049.W33 W35 1968

Collection in Focus Category: 
Museum Collection