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. 140.1 × W. 94.3 cm (55 3/16 × 37 1/8 in.)
overall mounting, including roller ends and suspension cord: H. 246 × W. 122.8 cm (96 7/8 × 48 3/8 in.)
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
A 10-013c (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
The dark skin and foreign features suggest that this king represents Yama, the fifth king and the most fearsome and important judge of the dead. Draped only in loincloths, sinners await judgment in the foreground, some with their hands chained, others with their eyes blindfolded. The gruesome punishments they face range from boiling in a cauldron of oil to drinking a container of flaming liquid to suffering repeated stabs from a long spear. Additional punishments, shown in an adjacent painting from this set, include destruction of the body through grinding in a mill or through the impossible climb up a mountain fitted with razor-sharp spikes. The structure with a pair of gates guarded by a demon symbolizes the entrance into hell.

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