Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Shuten-doji
  • Description

    Painting, handscroll. Scene from legend of destruction by Minamoto no Yorimitsu of the ogre Shuten-doji; triumphal return. Ink, colours and gold on paper.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 17thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 26.8 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Smith et al 1990

    One of Japan's most popular stories was the legend of the destruction by Minamoto no Yorimitsu (who actually lived AD 948-1021) of the ogre called the Shuten Doji ('The Drunken Boy'). This flesh-eating, drunken giant lived in the mountains, where he kept young women captive, some of whom he ate. Yorimitsu and his four companions gained access to his lair disguised as travelling priests, got the monster intoxicated, and cut off his head. The real Yorimitsu was a warrior who helped the court rid Japan of bandits and pirates, hence the attachment of this legend to him.

    This vigorous scroll combines breadth of design and a lively narrative sense with elegance of detail without a hint of stilted prettiness. It is clearly the work of an atelier of the Kano school. Much of its composition is based on a celebrated set of scrolls attributed to Kano Motonobu (1476-1559), but this seventeenth-century version, judging from its more earthy vigour, is probably a commission from a rich townsman rather than from a 'daimyo' family. The section illustrated shows Yorimitsu and his companions crossing a mountain river on their way to the giant's lair.

    Okudaira, Hideo, 'Otogi-zoshi emaki', Tokyo, 1982.

    See also:
    Anderson, William, 'The Pictorial Arts of Japan', London, 1886, pl. 13.'383 to 416. Kano School.'
    'Copied from a famous makimono by Kano Motonobu in a private collection in Japan. For a much complete copy, see No.1606.' (unattributed annotations in the specially interleaved Japanese Study Room copy of Anderson 1886)


  • Bibliography

    • Smith et al 1990 48 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    1997 13 Oct-1998 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image
    1998 9 Feb-3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).

  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.486 (Japanese Painting Number)
COMPASS Title: Shuten Doji ('Yorimitsu and the drunken monster of Mount Ibuki'), a handscroll painting


COMPASS Title: Shuten Doji ('Yorimitsu and the drunken monster of Mount Ibuki'), a handscroll painting

Image description



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Object reference number: JCF440

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