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Gaki-zoshi (Scroll of the Hungry Ghosts)



Handscroll
Color on paper
26.8 x I38.4 cm
Late-Heian Period (Late-12th Century)
National Treasure
AK 229

Through words and pictures, this scroll tells one part of the seven-part story of the gaki, or hungry ghosts. The emaciated ghosts, with their skeleton-thin limbs and swollen bellies, are invisible to the human eye. They are in a state of perpetual thirst and lick the drops of spilled water in a temple cemetery. In contrast with the bustling variety of people conglomerated in front of the temple, the misery of the gaki is depicted in fluid brushwork and light touches of color.

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