after-treatment © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
One of the Ten Kings of Hell
Work Type
painting, hanging scroll
15th - 16th century
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk
painting proper: H. 139.5 × W. 94.2 cm (54 15/16 × 37 1/16 in.)
overall mounting, including roller ends and suspension cord: H. 245.9 × W. 122.8 cm (96 13/16 × 48 3/8 in.)
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
A 10-013a (Suzuki Kei)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Clifford A. Kaye
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Label Text: Buddhist Art: The Later Tradition (1993) , written 1993
As conceived by the Chinese, the courts of the Kings of Hell resemble those of Chinese magistrates. The kings wear dragon robes secured by a belt ornamented with jade plaques, and they sit behind a magistrate’s table while presiding over the court, just as Chinese officials did. Their assistants and jailors, however, are demonlike creatures that sometimes display animal heads. The courts are set in Chinese palatial surroundings with red walls and tiled floors; the cloud bands at the top of each painting indicate that the scenes belong to the netherworld rather than to the human world, however. An identical inscription, now much worn, at the top of each of these scrolls states that this set—which originally comprised ten paintings—belonged to the western quarters of a temple called Pei-yao-wang. I tmight be pointed out that west was the direction associated with death and rebirth.

Publication History

Suzuki Kei, Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku, Amerika Kanada hen (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Paintings, Volume 1: American and Canadian Collections), University of Tokyo Press (Tokyo, Japan, 1982), pp. I-55 and I-432, no. A 10-013

Exhibition History

Chinese Painting and Decorative Arts from the Permanent Collection, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/17/1991 - 01/26/1992

32Q: 2740 Buddhist II, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/29/2017 - 05/31/2018

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