Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

Officials of the Afterworld: Ono No Takamura and the Ten Kings of Hell in the Chikurinji Engi Illustrated Scrolls

Academic journal article Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

Officials of the Afterworld: Ono No Takamura and the Ten Kings of Hell in the Chikurinji Engi Illustrated Scrolls

Article excerpt

Takamurayama Chikurinji engi emaki is a two-scroll emaki preserved at Chikurinji, a Shingon temple in Nyuno, Hiroshima prefecture, and dated to the Muromachi period. The first scroll of Chikurinji engi begins with the story of the founding of the temple by Gyoki; Ono no Takamura's mysterious birth; and the early stages of Takamura's life as a courtier. This paper focuses on the second of the two scrolls, which recounts the death of Takamura's father-inlaw, his tour through hell, and his encounter there with Takamura, identified as the third of the Ten Kings of Hell. In particular, the paper looks into the development of Takamura's hell-legend, as well as the juxtaposition in the second Chikurinji engi scroll of early medieval motifs of hell with the cult of the Ten Kings. My comparison of the scroll with other medieval Japanese visual and literary sources, such as setsuwa, hell paintings, and sculptures of the Ten Kings and Enma, reveals that the emaki illustrates a representation of the afterworld that is typical of images from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

keywords: Takamurayama Chikurinji engi emaki-Chikurinji-Ten Kings of Hell- Ono no Takamura-Enma-Hell Paintings

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Takamurayama Chikurinji engi emaki ... (hereafter Chikurinji engi) is a two-scroll emaki preserved at Chikurinji, a Shingon temple in ..., Hiroshima prefecture, a place traditionally known as the birthplace of Ono no Takamura ?...1 The temple's main hall, which was completed in 1543, is designated today as an Important Cultural Property.2 The scrolls have been dated by scholars to the Muromachi period. A copy made in 1638 has also been preserved at Chikurinji; furthermore, the temple owns a set of three hanging scrolls dating from the mid- to late-Edo period, while a mid-Edo period copy of the text is presently in the possession of Hiroshima University.

Chikurinji engi opens with the founding of the temple by ..., but much of it deals with the life of Ono no Takamura, who, according to the engi, was born mysteriously from a virgin who was a devotee of the temple. Though renowned as a courtier and scholar of the Heian period, Takamura is also famed for having been an official at the Court of Enma in hell, and for having traveled freely between this world and the afterworld. In Chikurinji engi, he is identified as ..., the third of the Ten Kings of Hell who preside at the entrance of the afterworld assigning souls to one or another of the six realms of existence.

This paper focuses on the second of the two Chikurinji engi scrolls in order to examine the evolution of Ono no Takamura's legend and images of hell in the late medieval period. In particular, I wish to look into the rather awkward juxtaposition of early medieval motifs with the cult of the Ten Kings as revealed in the scroll: in the earlier part, Enma ...? is presented in his court without the Ten Kings, but this is followed thereafter by an abrupt introduction of Takamura as the third "official" (...) with an emphasis on the Ten Kings. It is only through a close examination of the scrolls within the context of contemporary images of hell and the Ten Kings that this enigma can be explained.

Chikurinji engi and the Medieval Narratives of Ono no Takamura

Ono no Takamura (802-852) was a scholar, poet, and courtier of the early Heian period. He is known as the leading poet of his time, renowned particularly for his erudition in Chinese. Most interestingly, he appears in Heian- and Kamakuraperiod setsuwa ?... as an official of Enma's court (Asano 1987; Matsumoto 1987; Tanaka 2002). Chikurinji engi reveals interesting developments that the Takamura legends pertaining to Enma and the Ten Kings had undergone by the late medieval period. The first Chikurinji engi scroll begins by telling of the founding of the temple by Gyoki. It then goes on to tell of the life of Ono no Takamura, beginning with his mysterious birth, his successful marriage to the daughter of the regent Ono no Yoshisuke (a. …

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