The Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga (鳥獣人物戯画 – Scrolls of Frolicking Animals) Chōjū-giga (鳥獣戯画) are a group of 4 emakimono scrolls with varying animal and human depictions, many of the animals having human characteristics. They are also notable as they contain no text.12
The scrolls measure 31cm high and are around 1 metre long2, with the main scrolls that survive; dating between the Heian and Kamakura Period, originally housed in Kōzanji in Kyoto.1 There are some smaller fragments held in private collections.2
Scroll A is the most famous depicting animals burlesquing as well as monkls and laymen in various activities. Scroll B show animals in a more or less continuous landscape. These two are thought to date to the later Heian Period.
Scroll C has a date of 1253 upon it depicting a sequence of games and contests between monks and laymen. The scrolls ends with depictions of animals competing.
Scroll D, thought to date to the 13th Century, shows human clerics undertaking rituals and amusements.1
1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
Check out Japan Archives, our Japanese History Podcast