Important Cultural PropertyDetached Segment of Caricatures of Frolicking Animals and People

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  • Ink on paper
  • Heian period, 12th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • A-8

  The National Treasure Frolicking Animals, known in Japanese as Chōjū Jinbutsu Giga, is a handscroll series that consists of four volumes and has been passed down at Kōsan-ji Temple in Kyoto. This work is a segment that was, for some reason, detached from the original illustrated handscroll and tailored into a hanging scroll. In 2017, it was designated as an Important Cultural Property.
  This segment depicts five anthropomorphized animals including frogs, monkeys, and a fox. It is believed to be part of a procession scene because these animals are shown walking and wearing items such as a bamboo hat, formal cap for court nobles, and high clogs, and one is holding wisteria branches. Because there is no text explaining the story of the Frolicking Animals, it is not known what kind of scene this part was intended to portray. However, it is notable that something seems to be fluttering around in the left side of the image, under the large lotus leaf held by the frog.
  The first volume of the series contains a famous scene in which the rabbits and frogs are wrestling. In that scene, bush clovers are drawn on the right. The fluttering objects depicted in this segment are known to be the petals of the bush clovers, suggesting that this work was part of the first volume.