Illustrated Handscrolls

Entertaining Stories: The Tale of the Crane and The Fart Scroll
July 2, 2019 - August 12, 2019

The Muromachi period (1392–1573) saw the production of illustrated tales (otogi zōshi) in great numbers. Published as booklets and picture scrolls and centered on non-elite heroes, works of this genre have amusing plots and novel themes drawing on the everyday lives of commoners. An especially absurd and outstanding example is "The Tale of Fukutomi" (Fukutomi zōshi) — also known as "The Fart Scroll." It depicts common people competing to perfect the art of musical flatulence. Their cheerful facial expressions overflow with a vitality not seen in earlier portraiture. A work produced around the same time is "The Tale of the Crane" (Tsuru no sōshi). The plot is modeled after the Japanese folktale The Crane of Gratitude.

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