A VERY LARGE HAND PAINTED ‘JADE RECORD’ TRACT WITH THE COURT OF HELL
Woodblock print with hand painting in water color and gold, laid down and set in simplistic wooden frame
China, 19th century
This oversize hand colored woodblock print shows the king of hell, King Yan, also referred to as Yanluo or Yanwang, holding court in the Diyu hell. In front of him we see the mirror of retribution and in the upper right the wheel of reincarnation. The image is made up of hundreds of small scenes with judges weighing sins, people being tortured but also those who are released from hell and each sin is neatly inscribed with what the sinner did and how he is to be punished.
The Jade Record or Yuli is an illustrated religious tract that circulated in various versions and editions in the 19th century in China. It has some folk-Buddhist and Daoist features and describes the horrors of Diyu (hell in Chinese mythology) that await bad people.
The prologue states that the tract was submitted to the Jade Emperor or Highest God by the king of hell Yan Luo and the Bodhisattva of Compassion, then passed down to a Buddhist priest and on to a Taoist, during the Song Dynasty. The Qing emperors tried to suppress the tracts, as the state religion Confucianism discouraged any speculation about the afterlife.
The tract describes how the dead pass through the ten courts of hell and are punished with terrible torture according to their misdeeds during life. In the first hall, the "Mirror of Reflection" lets the dead see their own sins. Sins specifically mentioned include: mocking or disbelieving the tract itself, taking one's life without good reason, having weak faith in the Buddha, being careless as Buddhist or Taoist priest, killing live creatures, stealing, cheating, gambling, drinking, drowning baby girls, killing slaves etc.
Shape: Rectangular horizontal shape
Dimensions: 141 x 85 cm (frame), 130 x 75 cm (sheet)
Condition: overall good condition with some abrasions, creases and stains, slightly warped
Provenance: Austrian private collection
尺寸：141 x 85 厘米（含框），130 x 75 厘米 （畫面）