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Emma - o, King and Judge of Hell

Asian Art

Buddhists believe in reincarnation, but many schools of Buddhism hold that a sinful person is punished for a period of time between death and rebirth in one of several levels of Hell. Emma-ō, a powerful and fearsome figure, decides the fate of the deceased, sometimes singly and sometimes as part of a group of ten Hell Judges. The image of Emma-ō is a focus for prayers from the living, who ask for leniency for their recently departed loved ones.
MEDIUM Wood with gesso and traces of polychrome and inlaid glass eyes.
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 16th century
    PERIOD Muromachi Period
    DIMENSIONS 19 x 18 1/4 x 13 1/4 in. (48.3 x 46.4 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. George Mann
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Emma - o, King and Judge of Hell, 16th century. Wood with gesso and traces of polychrome and inlaid glass eyes., 19 x 18 1/4 x 13 1/4 in. (48.3 x 46.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. George Mann, 79.277. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 79.277_front_PS6.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 79.277_front_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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