Demons and Ghosts

 

Demons

Head of a Demon

Head of a Demon 

Head of a Demon

Clay, H. 30.3 cm. Sengim, Small Stupa, 8th -9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8560)

Scenes with demons are common in the art of Central Asia, especially in connection with the attack of Mara, the Buddhist Tempter, and his horde against the Bodhisattva. Yet what we see here is apparendy not so much a fearsome spirit as a comic mask, like the ones still found in the Himalayan lands today.

A broad cap in the form of a helmet comes down low over the head. The protruding eyeballs below the brows, whose delineation is anything but menacing, the broad nose, and the large, expressive mouth give the face a humorous air. The mask effect is heightened by the generous application of paint.

Blue Demon

Blue Demon 

Blue Demon

Clay, H. 21.7 cm. Sengim, 8th- 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8541)

This very expressive demon's face gains its fearsome aspect from the protruding eyeballs, peering to the side from under bushy, twirled eyebrows, the large, vertical, third eye on the forehead, and the fangs in the open mouth.

 

Head of a Demon

Head of a Demon 

Head of a Demon

Clay, H. 12.3 cm. Shorchuk, Temple in the South of the City, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7860)

Here the face is marked by very expressive features: below the high forehead the eyes peer out from beneath menacingly raised eyebrows. This is in effect a simple variation on the basic Shorchuk head, dynamically emphasizing the few lines of the face. The demonic expression sought after is intensified by the shorter, flatter nose and the vertical furrows of the brow above it.

Head of a Demon

Head of a Demon 

Head of a Demon

Clay, H. 21.4 cm. Khocho, Temple a, 8th-9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4527)

This head, with its pink-primed face, has many features that identify it as that of a demon. The eyes have a green iris and protrude from underneath thick, brownish, high-arched brows. The nose, comparatively short, is flared at the sides; below it is a wavy brown-and- black mustache. The open mouth, with its curling lower lip, reveals four ordinary teeth and two fangs in the corners of the upper jaw. The curious beard is composed of two thick, separate locks of hair. Above the two V-shaped furrows in the forehead is a shock of red hair, combed back in strands.

 

Dancing Demon

Dancing Demon 

Dancing Demon

Ink on paper, 17.5 x 9 cm. Khocho, 8th -9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4951)

This ink drawing with its very curious subject is part of the illumination of a Uighurian manuscript. A partly skeletal demon or entity from hell performs a wild dance beside a bowl. He wears a loincloth round his hips. The head is broad at the top and comes to a point at the chin; on his right temple is a crescent-shaped mane of hair. The artist has managed with fairly coarse strokes to sketch a very lively figure; in the frenzy of the dance the elevated bush of hair seems almost to shake to and fro, and the arms and legs to jerk up and down.

This is the only ink drawing of such outstanding quality that has come down to us from this early period - of history of Central Asia. On the back can be seen a few lines of Uighurian script, which may have been added later.

The fragment appears to come from a rolled manuscript. Scrolls of this kind were formed by pasting large pages of a book together at the edges; the front page was attached to a stick around which the whole manuscript was rolled up and tied with a ribbon. The drawing was executed either with a brush as used in China or, if this was not obtainable, a reed pen, which was more common in the western border regions.

Demon with a Lamp

Demon with a Lamp   Demon with a Lamp

Demon with a Lamp

Wall painting, 64.2 x 25.7 cm. Bezeklik, Temple 9, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6875)

From the porch of Temple 9 two stuccoed steps led to the cella. The door reveals were once adorned with paintings, but so many had crumbled off at the left-hand pillar that only the remains of a life-size female deity, probably the goddess Hariti, could still be made out. The right-hand pillar bore the outline of a male figure in armor, no doubt meant to represent the god Kubera.
To his right knelt this demon as lamp bearer, holding aloft in both hands a tray with a small vessel that contains two burning wicks. The demon's round, pudgy face has been given a grotesque expression with the help of prominent, wide-open eyes, unnatural eye-brows, and fangs. His hair is styled like a cap, remi- niscent of the Buddha coiffure, but here we find a decorative ribbon with feathers in front. He is ornately dressed over a plain undergarment.

 

 





Ghosts

In folklore, a ghost (sometimes known as an apparition, haunt, phantom, poltergeist, shade, specter or spectre, spirit, spook, and wraith) is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. Descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.

The belief in the existence of an afterlife, as well as manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals rather than humans have also been recounted.


Hungry Ghosts

Hungry ghost is a concept in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese traditional religion representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way. The term 餓鬼 èguǐ, literally "hungry ghost", is the Chinese translation of the term preta in Buddhism. "Hungry ghosts" play a role in Chinese Buddhism and Taoism as well as in Chinese folk religion. The term is not to be confused with the generic term for "ghost",鬼 guǐ (i.e. the spirit of a deceased ancestor). The understanding is that all people become such a regular ghost when they die, and would then slowly weaken and eventually die a second time. Hungry ghosts, by contrast, are a much more exceptional case, and would only occur in very unfortunate circumstances, such as if a whole family were killed or when a family no longer venerated their ancestors.

Gaki-Zoushi

Gaki-Zoushi (餓鬼草紙、平安時代) 

Gaki-Zoushi (餓鬼草紙、平安時代)
A gaki condemned to shit-eating, watches a child, wearing geta, and holding a chūgi, c. 12th century.

Gaki-Zoushi

Gaki-Zoushi (餓鬼草紙、平安時代) 

Gaki-Zoushi (餓鬼草紙、平安時代)

 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll (Gaki zoshi)

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 餓鬼草紙 (がきぞうし), late 12th century.
The Hungry Ghosts Scroll is located at the Tokyo National Museum. It depicts the world of the hungry ghosts, one of the six realms of Buddhism and contains tales of salvation of the hungry ghosts. The whole scroll is a National Treasure of Japan

 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 餓鬼草紙 (がきぞうし), late 12th century. Current location: Kyoto National Museum
First section of the Hungry Ghosts Scroll depicting one of the thirty-six types of hungry ghosts who constantly seeks water to drink and explaining how those who have been born as such are saved by the offerings of the living.

 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 餓鬼草紙 (がきぞうし), late 12th century. Current location: Kyoto National Museum
Second section of the Hungry Ghosts Scroll located at the Kyoto National Museum. The scroll depicts the world of the hungry ghosts, one of the six realms of Buddhism and contains tales of salvation of the hungry ghosts. This particular section explains how those who have been born as hungry ghosts are saved by the offerings of the living. It relates the story of one of the thirty-six types of hungry ghosts who constantly seek water to drink. The central scene of this section shows people pouring water on a funerary marker for the ullambana festival for the dead. The whole scroll has been designated as National Treasure of Japan in the category paintings. It was possibly part of a set of scrolls depicting the six realms which was kept at Sanjūsangen-dō.

 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 

Hungry Ghosts Scroll 餓鬼草紙 (がきぞうし), late 12th century. Current location: Kyoto National Museum
Sixth section of the Hungry Ghosts Scroll located at the Kyoto National Museum. The scroll depicts the world of the hungry ghosts, one of the six realms of Buddhism and contains tales of salvation of the hungry ghosts. This particular section shows Ananda, a disciple of Shakyamuni, teaching an incantation to achieve salvation to a hungry ghost who continuously belches flames from his mouth. The whole scroll has been designated as National Treasure of Japan in the category paintings. It was possibly part of a set of scrolls depicting the six realms which was kept at Sanjūsangen-dō.

 

 

Hungry ghosts

Hungry ghosts

Hungry ghosts.

Hungry ghosts looking for food.

Hungry ghosts looking for food.

Food and water is left out as an offering for hungry ghosts who have no one to tend to them.

Maudgalyayana (目連) visits the realm of the hungry ghosts

Maudgalyayana (目連) visits the realm of the hungry ghosts

Maudgalyayana (目連) visits the realm of the hungry ghosts