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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Chin'gwang Wang, First of the Ten Kings of Hell
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Jin'gwang Wang
Work Type
painting, hanging scroll
late 14th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Korea
Koryŏ dynasty, 918-1392
Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink, colors, and gold pigment on silk; with a brush-written inscription reading "Che il Chin'gwang Wang" (Chinese, Di yi Qinguang Wang) in a rectangular red cartouche in the upper right corner
painting proper: H. 61.5 x W. 45 cm (24 3/16 x 17 11/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Nathan V. Hammer
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Label Text: Buddhist Art: The Later Tradition (1993) , written 1993
Chinkwang Wang is the first of the Ten Kings of Hell, a group of minor Buddhist deities who judge the merits (or lack thereof) of a deceased individual’s life. Based on their judgement, Chijang Posal (Sanskrit, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha; Chinese, Ti-tsang P’u-sa), Lord of the Six Realms of Existence, determines into which realm the individual will be reborn. (From lowest to highest, the six realms of existence are denizens of hell, animals, hungry ghosts, humans, devas [lesser deities], and asuras [perfected souls].) The Ten Kings of Hell became popular in China during the Five Dynasties (907—960) and Sung (960—1279) periods; they remained popular in China in later periods and were eagerly espoused by Buddhists in Korea and Japan as well. The names for the kings were invented in China; their palaces and official trappings were inspired by those of Chinese officials, and their courts were modeled on those of the Chinese administrative and judicial system. Thought until recently to have been painted in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, this scroll has now been identified as a work of the late fourteenth century. Although they must have been produced in some quantity. Korean depictions of the Ten Kings of Hell are exceptionally rare today; in fact, this scroll and others from the same set that have recently come to light are the only known Koryŏ-period depictions of the Kings of Hell. The intricate fabric patterns and the brilliant pink pigment are characteristics of scrolls from this set. The title of the scroll appears in the rectangular cartouche at the upper right; it reads Che il Chinkwang Wang and translates “First, Chinkwang Wang.”

Publication History

Cheeyun Kwon, "The Ten Kings from the former Packard Collection: A Reassessment", Oriental Art (2005), Vol. LV, no. 2, pp. 28-36, p. 29, fig. 1a

Masterpieces of Goryeo Buddhist Painting: A Long Lost Look after 700 Years, exh. cat., National Museum of Korea (Seoul, 2010), p. 170 and p. 306, cat. 70

Exhibition History

The Arts of Korea, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 07/11/1992 - 01/31/1993

Special Exhibition of the Buddhist Paintings of the Goryeo Dynasty, National Museum of Korea, Seoul, 10/11/2010 - 11/21/2010

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu