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Ibuki-doji emaki 伊吹童子絵巻 (Picture Scroll of Ibuki-doji)

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Ibuki-doji emaki 伊吹童子絵巻 (Picture Scroll of Ibuki-doji)
  • Description

    Painting, handscroll. Story of Shuten-doji, first scroll of set of three. Five pictures alternating with five passages of text, describing boy abandoned on Mt. Ibuki and attended by various supernatural beings; he learns to fly, but is chased away by various divinities, and eventually settles on Mt. Oe. Ink and colour on paper. Inscribed.

    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 1]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 2]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 3]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 4]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 5]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 6]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 7]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 8]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 9]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 10]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 11]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 12]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 13]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 14]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 15]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 16]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 17]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 18]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 19]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 20]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 21]
    [Jap.Ptg.176, image 22]


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 17thC(late)-18thC(early)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 31.2 centimetres
    • Width: 901.3 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Comment

        Text passage.
  • Curator's comments

    Set with 1881,1210,0.269; 1881,1210,0.270.Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 2

    The first and second scrolls have five sections each of text and pictures, the third scroll four each. The story is the well-known 'Shuten doji'. The number of surviving works dealing with this story is extremely large, including, notably, the three-scroll version by Kano Motonobu (1476-1559) in the possession of the Suntory Art Gallery, the version attributed to Kano Takanobu (1571-1618) in the Tokyo National Museum, the version by Kano Tan'yu (1602-74), and the version in the Itsuo Art Gallery, which belongs to a different tradition from these. The story was probably one of the most popular of all 'otogi' works. The various versions can be classified roughly into two groups depending on whether they locate Shuten doji's birthplace at Mt. Ibuki in the province of Omi or Mt. Oe in Tanba Province, although most of the paintings seem to derive from the Motonobu version.

    However, the version in the British Museum shown here differs completely from those just cited both in content and in the pictures themselves, and the whole story, while taking Shuten doji as its chief character, revolves mainly around his birth and upbringing. Born at the foot of Mt. Ibuki in Omi Province, he is abandoned on Mt. Ibuki in early infancy. He eventually acquires the power of being able to fly through the air, but is chased by the gods and buddhas and obliged to move from district to district until he finally takes up residence in a cave on Mt. Oe in Tanba, where he lives in fine style. The work thus manages to combine, without contradiction, the two main settings for the two Shuten doji traditions. In this sense, it may be safely described as a variant of the main Shuten doji tradition, which is why I have consciously avoided the usual title and labeled it "Ibuki doji."

    In marked contrast to the popularity of the Shuten doji, there are surprisingly few surviving versions of this 'Ibuki doji'; the only ones that come to mind are the three-scroll 'Ibuki doji' handscroll in the possession of Toyo University; the eight-scroll 'Ibuki-san Shuten doji' handscroll formerly in the possession of the Akagi Bunko; and the single-scroll 'Ibuki doji emaki' in the National Diet Library. These versions, moreover, are unsatisfactory as a means of getting a complete picture of the story. The Toyo University version, for example, lacks one portion of the main text, while the National Diet Library version lacks the section corresponding to the first scroll. Furthermore, as far as the versions just mentioned are concerned, the variations in the text are so great as almost to suggest, at first glance, completely different stories - the names of the characters, with the exception of Shuten doji himself, being different. In this sense, the British Museum version is extremely valuable in that it preserves a complete version of the story.


  • Bibliography

    • Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 2 3, Ref.2 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2013-2014, Oct-Apr BM Japanese Galleries, ‘Japan from prehistory to the present’
    2014, Apr-Oct BM Japanese Galleries, ‘Japan from prehistory to the present’
    2014 Oct- 2015 Apr, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
    2015 April-October, London, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from Prehistory to the Present'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • 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.176 (Japanese Painting Number)
Painting, handscroll. The story of the young Shuten doji. First scroll of three. Ink and colour on paper. Scene 1.

Detail: Other

Painting, handscroll. The story of the young Shuten doji. First scroll of three. Ink and colour on paper. Scene 1.

Image description



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Object reference number: JCF295

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