Watching Women Fall in Japanese Hell Painting: Defining Sins and Punishments Specific to Women between the Twelfth and Sixteenth Centuries


4月16日2015年 - 4月16日2015年 | 6 pm

Weston Room, Norwich Cathedral Hostry

About the Lecture

Hiragana e-iri Ojoyoshu (Bakumatsu Period) Hirasawa Collection (detail)Medieval Japanese paintings of women suffering in hell clearly illustrate contemporary conceptions of and concerns about female sin and salvation. This talk will closely examine portrayals of women in influential or representative examples of hell imagery that survive from the late Heian through the Muromachi periods in order to track how these images reflect changes in audience over time. The talk will demonstrate that, toward the end of the medieval period, female sin had increasingly become associated with the female body and with what were regarded as the reproductive responsibilities of women.

About the Speaker

Caroline Hirasawa is Associate Professor of Japanese Art History at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Her publications focus on medieval and early-modern Japanese hell painting, pilgrimage mandalas, and images of salvation. Her book Hell-bent for Heaven in Tateyama mandara: Painting and Religious Practice at a Japanese Mountain (Brill, 2013) treats the history, literature, and images of a cult that developed around Tateyama mountain (Toyama prefecture) in which the volcanic landscape was seen as a portal to hell and paradise.

Where the Tateyama project examined perceptions of mountains as the Other World, a new book project, tentatively entitled Negotiating with Dragons, considers the Other World that was conceived as lying beneath the sea, which is often presented in stories and images as a kingdom of dragons. This research examines various medieval paintings and objects, including portrayals of hell and the dragon palace in a set of hanging scrolls belonging to the temple Shidoji (Kagawa prefecture).

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Future Lectures

21 May 2015 | Professor Noel Pinnington

“Zen painting and Chinese poetry on the fifteenth-century painting of the gourd and the catfish (Hyonenzu)”

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18 June 2015 | Dr Iza Kavedzija

“The work of art: an Ethnography of contemporary art production in Osaka”

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About the Third Thursday Lecture Series

Every Third Thursday of the month, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures hosts a lecture on a topic related to the art and culture of Japan. Talks begin at 6pm (50-minute lecture followed by refreshments). Speakers are all specialists in their field and the talks are intended to be accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Japanese history.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Booking essential. To book your seat, please go to the booking form or email the Sainsbury Institute

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The lecture will be held at the Weston Room, Cathedral Hostry, Norwich NR1 4DH. The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Yakult and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Charitable Trust.

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A monthly lecture series supported by