The Seven Fortunes And The Sev Essay

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The Seven Fortunes And The Sev Essay, Research Paper A significant work of Japanese art that is of particular interest is the hand scrolls The Seven Fortunes and the Seven Misfortunes by Maruyama Okyo of the Edo period. These scrolls by Okyo are a pictorial explanation of the real-life blessings and evils that, according to Buddhist philosophy, result from previous Karma (Mason 280). The Seven Fortunes and the Seven Misfortunes is comprised of three scrolls totaling 150 feet in length by 12 1/4 inches high. For the purpose of this paper, I will focus on the two scrolls containing the misfortunes . The two scrolls that illustrate the Seven Misfortunes show disastrous events inflicted on man and mankind by nature and by humans. They were commissioned in 1768 by the Emmann

Temple outside of Kyoto to explain the Buddhist Karma beliefs. Okyo painted realistic scenes for every misfortune or evil of the Buddhist philosophy Earthquake, flood, fire, onis, war, robbery, and sickness (Joly 378). Maruyama Okyo was a master of realism, a technique adopted from outside influences (especially the Dutch), which became popular during the Edo period. The realistic qualities conveyed in Okyo s images of the Seven Misfortunes are moving and frightening. One particular painting in the scrolls shows with vivid detail the demise of an unfortunate man. This man is naked, with a fierce bull on either side of him. The man s legs have been tied to one hind leg of each bull, and their tails have been set on fire. We can imagine the bulls bucking wildly as the man s fragile

body is torn apart from the great force of the furious bulls. Blood spurts from the torn cavity of the man s chest as he screams in terror while the bulls run in wild agony, as flames spread from their tails up towards their hinds. Just by looking at this painting, one can imaging the scene actually coming to life. This scene is painted with tremendous energy, it truly seems like a terrifying frozen moment in time. Another scene in the Seven Misfortunes that displays Okyo s mastery of realism is The Flood. In this misfortune, a treacherous typhoon is engulfing a village. The village people are being thrown about in the water, the expressions on their faces express the terror and helplessness that they feel. They are no match for the monstrous waves that are thrashing them about.

An additional example of the realistic interpretations of the misfortunes is Okyo s illustration of The Fire. Towering flames engulf a village as the villagers try to escape, running in terror. Flames lick the bodies of the helpless people as the run in vain, for they can t escape the wrath of the fire. Scenes like these show how Okyo used his mastery of the traditional elements of the decorative style and his unique use of them to achieve greater naturalism (Mason 280). The traditional styles that Okyo demonstrates can be seen throughout the scrolls. The use of texture is well demonstrated in the illustrations, variations in line width energize each painting. The quick, precise brush strokes give each scene life, even though they are on one-dimensional paper. Short brush strokes

or quick dabs show texture for the elements in each scene. The faces of the people in each scene are painted in detail though they are often tiny, we can see the expressions on their faces.Okyo pays close attention to detail The waves painted in the typhoon scene flow like actual water, and yet the body of water seems to be a being in itself, consuming the village people. The flames painted in The Fire are also rendered realistically, variations in line create a sense of spatial depth and texture. The flames seem to possess a spirit of their own as they engulf the village people. Okyo s ability to combine Western influences of realism and his own personal style into The Seven Misfortunes made his work stand out against the rest of the art being produced in Japan during that time