The 40th GJS SeminarVisualizing Hungry Ghosts in Heian Japan: *Gaki zōshi *as a Transcultural Adaptation of *Zhengfa nianchu jing*

Date and time: July 3, 2017 (Mon.), 5:00-6:00PM
Venue: First Meeting Room (3F), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo
Speaker: Haruko Wakabayashi (Lecturer, East Asian Studies Department, Princeton University)
Language: English

Abstract: The main source text of *Gaki zōshi*, or the Scrolls of the Hungry Ghosts (12th-13th c.; Tokyo and Kyoto National Museums), is *Zhengfa nianchu jing* (J. *Shōbō nenjo-kyō*; Sutra on Proper Vows for the True Dharma), a Chinese translation of an early Sanskrit text that is known for its detailed description of the various realms of existence. This paper focuses on the scenes in *Gaki zōshi* where the *gaki* are placed in the human world, and into a uniquely Heian setting. In these scenes, the author/artist have not only transposed the text into a different medium, but into a different cultural context. In this sense *Gaki zōshi*, though primarily visual, can be regarded as a translation of *Zhengfa nianchu jing* into a “language” that was more familiar and appealing to the Heian elite society. Inevitably, the process of adaptation of *Zhengfa nianchu jing* into Japanese illustrated handscrolls could be much more complex and extensive than what have been discussed in the studies thus far. This study aims to unravel these complexities and explore the significance of the transcultural adaptation of *Zhengfa nianchu jing *into what became *Gaki zōshi* of Heian Japan.

Organizer: The Global Japan Studies Network (GJS)
Co-organizer: Institute for Advanced Studeis on Asia (IASA)
Contact: gjs[at]