Category Archives: painting and watercolors

paintings

Unidentified pickpocket

Detail

This pen and ink and watercolor drawing by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) in the Graphic Arts Collection has been mislabeled for a number of years. In trying to attribute it to the correction book or print a number of other pickpocket scenes were consulted, along with Rictor Norton’s text on Georgian raggamuffins and thieves. http://rictornorton.co.uk/gu11.htm

Richard Newton after Thomas Rowlandson, A Frenchman Plundered, 1792. Etching.

Isaac Robert Cruikshank, Dandy Pickpockets, Diving, December 2, 1818. Etching

Henry Heath, The Rule of Three, 1827. Etching.

Butler Clowes after John Collet, Female Bruisers, 1770. Mezzotint.

In 1820, Cruikshank was working out the plates for Pierce Egan’s Life in London, featuring the adventures of protagonists Tom, Jerry and Logic, three men about town. Although these figures are not as elegant as the published versions, it may be this watercolor was an early attempt to work out a scene never included in the final book. See more: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/tom-and-jerry-life-in-london

Pierce Egan (1772-1849), Life in London; or, The day and night scenes of Jerry Hawthorne, esq., and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their rambles and sprees through the metropolis. By Pierce Egan … Embellished with thirty-six scenes from real life, designed and etched by I. R. & G. Cruikshank; and enriched also with numerous original designs on wood, by the same artists (London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1821). Graphic Arts Collection Cruik 1821

Do you have another theory?

 

 

 

 

Jesse Jackson Sr.

On the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, 11/11 at 11:11 am, a multi-faith service for peace was held in the Princeton University chapel to mark the end of WW1, with a sermon by guest preacher, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Rev. Jackson is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious, and political figures. Over the past fifty years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice.

This was a reminder of the painting held in the Graphic Arts Collection of Jackson’s sermon thirty years ago at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Franklin McMahon (1921-2012), Reverend Jesse Jackson, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga. 1988. Graphite, charcoal, and acrylic paint on paper. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2015

As reported in the New York Times, “The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Ebenezer Baptist Church to preach from the pulpit that once belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. and to cloak his Presidential campaign in the glory of the movement that Dr. King led. It was a rich mix of God, politics and history, of civil rights movement veterans, political leaders and average churchgoers, all crammed into the narrow wooden pews of Ebenezer Baptist, two days before the Super Tuesday primaries across the South. . . ”

 

“. . . Then Mr. Jackson took his place at the simple white pulpit. He noted that it was the 23d anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ when civil rights demonstrators were beaten on a bridge in Selma, Ala., as they tried to march for the right to vote. He then paid tribute to John Lewis, now an Atlanta Congressman, who had led that march and been savagely beaten and on this Sunday morning was in a front pew. Mr. Jackson went on to present Super Tuesday as the outgrowth of the bloodletting on that Selma bridge. ‘Tuesday, 23 years later, we can transform the crucifixion,’ he said. ‘And on Tuesday roll the stone away, and on Wednesday morning have a resurrection: new hope, new life, new possibilities, new South, new America.’

‘I’m proud of the the New South,’ Mr. Jackson said. ‘No more governors standing in the school house door, no more dogs biting children.’ But, he continued, ‘It’s not enough to have kind governors and tame dogs. It’s not enough.’ He argued that ‘the fight for economic justice’ was the principle challenge before the South and the nation. It was a fight for the economic rights of garbagemen, Mr. Jackson noted, that drew Dr. King to Memphis, where he was assassinated in 1968. When Mr. Jackson had finished, the congregation sang him on his way with ‘I’m on the Battlefield for My Lord.’ And Mr. Roberts adlibbed, ‘And I promise not to serve him just ’till Super Tuesday but until I die.’”–Robin Toner, “Hosannas to God and Votes for Jackson,” Special to the New York Times, March 7, 1988.

 

Following yesterday’s service at Princeton University, the 39th Annual Conference and Multifaith Service for Peace sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) and co-sponsored by 31 religious and civic groups in the region (see www.peacecoalition.org) with Rev. Jackson and Ambassador Wendy Sherman.

Sherman led the U.S. negotiating team and was a central player in reaching a successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear agreement. In recognition of her diplomatic accomplishments, she was awarded the National Security Medal by President Barack Obama. Amb. Sherman’s latest book Not for the Faint of Heart, is on order. Here is a preview.

 

“I have a great weakness for these little sheets of paper” -Rodin

(grainy image due to low light during hanging)

It is a great privilege to have work from the Graphic Arts Collection included in an exhibition at the Musée Rodin in Paris. Opening November 6, 2018, and running through February 24, 2019, the show entitled Rodin, Dessiner, Découper, includes nearly 250 drawings by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), of which 90 are his rare and often surprising cut and assembled figures, 6 loaned by Princeton University’s Graphic Arts Collection. “Jouant de la mise en espace de ces corps,” writes curator Sophie Biass-Fabiani, “ce procédé révèle des silhouettes découpées audacieuses et un dynamisme d’une grande modernité. Cette exposition annonce un des modes d’expression novateurs du XXe siècle.”

http://musee-rodin.fr/fr/exposition/rodin-dessiner-decouper

The museum’s site goes on to quote Rodin, who said,

“‘I have a great weakness for these little sheets of paper.’ This is how Rodin showed his attachment to his drawn work. From his beginnings, Rodin realized–independently of his sculptures–drawings that he executed according to the living model. He presents his drawings in all exhibitions devoted to him, first in Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague in 1899, then Paris in 1900, Prague in 1902 or Düsseldorf in 1904. The museum retains most of this drawn work, about 7500 leaves.

An unprecedented mode of operation: drawing, cutting. Rodin submits his drawings made from a first throw to various metamorphoses. He decodes his drawings, identifies the line that suits him, sets the color using watercolor, cuts out his figures, puts them back, assembles them to other figures and gradually builds an unexpected device. In his early years, Rodin cut drawings and sketches that he pasted into albums. Between 1900 and 1910, he cut a hundred drawings of watercolor nudes which are the heart of this exhibition. By cutting them out, Rodin likes to manipulate them, to situate them in space in multiple ways, to cut them off voluntarily.”

(c) Musée Rodin

More information on how Rodin’s work made it to Princeton can be found here: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2018/03/10/auguste-rodin-cutouts/. Hanging and lighting will be completed this week and their beautiful exhibition catalogue with full color images will be available at Princeton next Monday.

“He plays with the small figures of paper which are the equivalent of his plaster figures. By relating these carvings to the three-dimensional character of the sculpture, the carved figures appear as a new “object” between the two-dimensional design and the sculpture. In another series, Rodin executes from his cut-out figures real assemblages that he fixes himself on a new support, interweaving the bodies in a new composition. Drawn and cut, these drawings are not mere technical accessories: they have conquered their status as full-fledged works. The dynamism of the silhouettes announces the modernity of Matisse.” –Sophie Biass-Fabiani, curator

http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/visiter/informations-pratiques-paris

 

 

 

Pas de quatre

We were asked recently about the watercolor attributed to Alfred Edward Chalon (1780-1860) of the four leading ballerinas of the 1840s, Fanny Cerrito, Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, and Marie Taglioni, in the Pas de Quatre, composed by Jules Perrot and danced on July 12, 1845. This painting was the source for a popular lithograph by Thomas Herbert Maguire (1821-1895), widely circulated.

According to commentary by the Victoria and Albert Museum,

“There were no men in the ballet–the ballerina was now the public’s favourite and the male dancer’s role was reduced to lifting and supporting her. In the coming years, his position declined even further, until he was all but banished from the stage and male roles were performed by girls in men’s clothing. By this time a recognisable ‘ballet’ costume had evolved, which still forms the basis of many ballet costumes today. It was originally based on fashionable dress of the period, but gradually crystallised into a low-cut pointed bodice and a bell-shaped, knee-length skirt formed of tiers of tarlatan with a diaphanous top layer.”


Our watercolor was a gift of Allison Delarue, of whom Mary Ann Jensen, former Curator of the William Seymour Theatre Collection, wrote,

“Allison Delarue, Class of 1928, is a graduate of the Peddie School who received both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Princeton University. While continuing graduate studies at Oxford University he became fascinated with the renaissance of ballet in England; he studied dance with the Hon. Martin-Haney and bought his first ballet print at Cyril Beaumont’s famous London bookshop in Charing Cross Road.

Returning to the United States, he pursued his interest in the ballet while on the staff of the Cooper Union Museum in New York City. A talented photographer as well as a collector and writer, for many years Mr. Delarue was on the staff of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. His professional memberships have included the Theatre Library Association and the American Society for Theatre Research.”

 

http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/delarue/Htmls/index.html

A Nincompoop and Other Prints

 

Princeton University class “Caricature and Modernity: 1776-1914” (ART 453/ECS 453) visited the Graphic Arts Collection this week to view prints and watercolors by James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and other British caricaturists.

With frequent bursts of laughter, the class looked primarily at the collection of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895, who donated several thousand prints, drawings, and illustrated books to the Princeton University Library.

“Caricature, based on the distortion of the human face for comic effect, challenged the ideally beautiful,” reads the class description, “and the academic art training that developed in Western Europe after the Renaissance. This course will examine the explosion of caricatural prints and comic illustrated books in France, Great Britain, and the United States from the revolutions of 1776 and 1789 to World War I. Topics will include the political role of satire in the newly defined public sphere; the influence of physiognomy and racial theories on caricatural depictions; the invention of the comic strip; and the origins of Dada and Cubism in comic illustration.”

The invention of laughing gas is celebrated below:

Reports were prepared on Gillray’s Tom Paine’s Nightly Pest (1792); King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver (1803); Matrimonial Harmonics (1805); and Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! (1818). In addition, they studied Rowlandson’s Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy, Somerset House (1808); A Nincompoop or Henpecked Husband (1807); The Anatomist (1811); and Breaking up the Bluestocking Club (1815), among many others.

Next week they move on to Paris and Charles Philipon’s La Caricature with Daumier, Grandville, and other French caricaturists.

Attributed to Henry William Bunbury (1750–1811), The Long Minuet as Danced at Bath (after 1787).

 

 

 

The Battle of Princeton and the [later] Death of Mercer

One of the rare items pulled for the Princeton University class “Battle Lab” (HUM 350/ART 302/AMS 352) was a series of preparatory sketches by John Trumbull (1756–1843) for his painting, The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777.

The students were asked where and when did Brigadier General Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) actually die? Answer: Mercer died in the Thomas Clarke House on the eastern end of the battlefield, nine days after the battle ended.

The students examined a cannon ball found in April 1896 near Princeton Battlefield and grapeshot found November 1941 by Dr. Henry E. Hale, one yard northerly from north west corner of the Thomas Clarke House in which Gen. Mercer died 12 Jan. 1777, found under the room in which he died (Gift of Cora A. Margenem).


This framed section of The Apotheosis of George Washington uses an image taken from a 1781 print by Valentine Green after a painting by John Trumbull, and printed on fabric by an English textile designer. Here Washington is driving a chariot drawn by leopards, accompanied by the figure of America in a plumed headdress. This is one part of a larger design that originally also included The Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and was used as wall paper, bed linen, and other decorative fabrics.

Students were also shown two swords, one which appears in the Washington textile and the other similar to one in Trumbull’s battle scene.

Among the seminal American documents shown was a first printing of the Declaration of Independence, printed by John Dunlap (1747-1812) and “signed by order and in behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, president. Attest. Charles Thomson, secretary.” Acquired December, 1940, William H. Scheide Library.

There are two states noted by Frederick Goff, differing in the placement of the imprint. In the earlier state, the P of Philadelphia is located directly beneath the comma following Thomson’s name. In the later state the P is located directly beneath the n of Thomson’s name. Goff notes also a proof copy (imperfect), held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, exhibiting differences in punctuation and in the insertion in line 13 of the word ‘a’ before the word ‘new.’ Cf. Goff, F.R. The John Dunlop broadside: the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, 1976. See also Walsh, M.J. “Contemporary Broadside editions of the Declaration of Independence.” Harvard Library Bulletin 3 (1949): 31-43, 1.

(left) Thomas Paine (1737-1809); (center) George Washington (1732-1799); (right) Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) from the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks http://library.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/aids/C0770/. Note the sunken faces of Paine and Franklin, whose false teeth had been removed before the mold was taken.

 

Thanks to the donation of Malcolm S. Forbes, Class of 1941, we have a collection of American Revolutionary War soldiers in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. The group consists of no.158 of a limited set of models of the officers and men of American, British, and Hessian regiments that fought in the battles of Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 2-3, 1777). These 39 models were made to order for the Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society by Blenheim Military Models, Glamorgan, Wales.

A variety of other reliquaries, maps, and engravings were also included in the exciting class.

Odalisques


The Graphic Arts Collection holds a folder with 23 watercolor and gouache costume studies with ink lettering on tan paper. The only identification is a pencil note on the back in French, indicating they are from an album. No artist signature or stamp can be found although it is possible they have some connection with Octavien Dalvimart’s six volumes of The Costume of Turkey drawn from life in 1798. Here are the French titles in English:
Muslim Arab woman in the vicinity of Nablus [North of Jerusalem]
Vulgar odalisques
Christian woman from Jerusalem going out into the street
First walk of a new wife after marriage in Ramleh
Muslim Arabic woman in [?Beitjibrim]
Abyssinian selling parakeets in Cairo
Poor Christian in Nazareth
Rich Muslim in Aleppo
Rich Muslim in Damascus
Abyssinian odalisque
Muslim peasant from northern Egypt
Oriental odalisque dancer seen in Beirut
Christian woman from Mount Lebanon
Slave of rich house in Damascus
Young bride from Morocco
Rich Abyssinian living in Cairo, Egypt
Bedouin woman from Kerak
Armenian woman going out on the street
Rich Christian from Egypt
Muslim peasant from South Hebron
Peasant woman from Southern Egypt
Rich Muslim in the interior of a harem
Muslim Arab women crying at the shrine in Yuzur

The Longest Painting in America

Longer than the Empire State Building is tall. Longer than three Statues of Liberty. Longer than fourteen blue whales. The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World is on view at Kilburn Mill, New Bedford, until October. https://nbwm.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=19513a5d13964a48aa9d00973c8a9674

All 1,275 feet of the panorama are currently on exhibit for the first time in generations, authentically depicting a whaling voyage originating from the port of New Bedford in the mid-19th century. Two years in the making, the narrative work was completed around 1848 in five rolls by New Bedford artists Caleb Purrington and Benjamin Russell, who traveled it around the country as a commercial enterprise.

The first four of Purrington and Russell’s rolls have been conserved and installed to the public thanks to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. https://www.whalingmuseum.org/programs/spectacle-motion-grand-panorama-whaling-voyage-round-world/

The location of the fifth and final section is unknown but hopefully the publicity this display receives will lead to the discovered of the last section.

 

Benjamin Russell lost his money in a banking scandal and signed on to a whaling ship that took him around the world. This is the trip he depicts, with a few historical events added throughout. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life are just a few of the literary sources referenced in the painting.


The four cotton rolls are hanging thanks to hundreds of magnets so that no damage will be done to the actual painting, and so that the entire display can travel if another venue is found somewhere around the country. Until then, the panorama has been digitized and can be viewed here: https://nbwm.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=19513a5d13964a48aa9d00973c8a9674

See also: Allan Forbes, Whale ships and whaling scenes as portrayed by Benjamin Russell. Presenting reproductions in color of the paintings of the foremost artist in that field edited by Ralph M. Eastman, assisted by K.G. Rogers (Boston: Second Bank-State Street Trust Co., 1955). Forrestal Annex ND237.R86 F7

Shahn’s Jersey Homesteads Mural


Twenty minutes east of Princeton is the Jersey Homesteads (now called Roosevelt) created to resettle Jewish garment workers living in tenements in New York and Philadelphia. Each family accepted into the community was charged $500 and approximately 200 took advantage of the opportunity to live in government designed houses outside the city.

Many artists have been attracted to the area, beginning with Ben Shahn (1898-1969) and his partner (later wife) Bernarda Bryson (1903-2004). Shahn was invited to create a mural for the school and between 1937 and 38, Ben and Bernarda completed a 45-foot fresco depicting the history of the Jersey Homesteads. By 1947, the government begun selling the houses, first to their residents, then to outsiders. Shahn and Bryson rented a home for several years, finding it hard to give up their NYC apartment, but eventually moved to Roosevelt full-time.

The Shahn mural begins at the left with Jewish immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, featuring portraits of Shahn’s mother, Raphael Soyer, Albert Einstein, and Charles Steinmetz. The center section is filled with the crowded sweatshops and tenements where residents used to live, and the far right shows the planning and development of the Roosevelt cooperative factory and farms. Among the recognizable figures are the architect Alfred Kastner, Heywood Broun, Rexford Guy Tugwell, Senator Robert Wagner, Sidney Hillman, and John Brophy.

Bust of Roosevelt by Jonathan Shahn, located a short distance from the school.

 

Generations of Artists: Roosevelt, NJ from Princeton Community Television on Vimeo.

The Legend of Phra Malai

Guest post by Martin Heijdra, Director, East Asian Library, Princeton University https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/9985474

The following content is largely based upon comparing our images with the list of selected readings at the end of this blog.
8.

The Legend of Phra Malai is one of the core texts of popular Theravada Buddhist teaching in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand. The story relates how Phra Malai, a monk who has accumulated great merit, travels to hell, where people ask him to urge their relatives to make merit on their behalf, which indeed he successfully does after having come back to the human realm. When on earth, Phra Malai receives eight flowers from a poor peasant or woodcutter, offered with the hope to not be reborn as a poor man in his next life. To enable that, Phra Malai goes to the Tāvitiṁsa Heaven, where he meets Indra, the King of Gods, in front of the Cūḷāmaṇi Cetiya, a stupa with the relics of the Buddha’s hair.

This stupa was built by Indra in order to give the Deities an opportunity to continue to gain merit. Indra explains to Phra Malai the circumstances in which twelve of these deva deities had gained their merits. Finally Metteyya, the Buddha of the Future (Maitreya) comes from Tusita Heaven, and converses with Phra Malai. Some detailed ways to gain merit are discussed, including listening in one day and night to the Vessantara Jātaka. A deterioration of the world is predicted, to be followed by the final coming of Metteya, beginning a reign of harmony and happiness. On earth, Phra Malai tells this story to his listeners, explain to them the many ways of gaining merit.

24.

85.

There are several traditions of this legend, from popular to elitist. Ours belongs to the popular Phra Mālai klō̜n sūat พระมาลัยกลอนสวด tradition: illustrated texts written on accordion-folded samut khoi paper manuscripts using Khmer script, but in the Thai language (and incorporating Thai tone marks in the Khmer script). These are recited, sung and dramatized for an unsophisticated audience, with colloquial, sensational, even bawdy texts. The earliest extant version dates to the first half of the 18th century, although earlier versions most likely existed.

Samut khoi books (samut: book, khoi: a kind of tree: Streblus asper, or Trophis aspera) are made of boiled khoi bark: the resulting paste, of a naturally off-white color, is dried on cloth frames, and when ready, inscribed on both sides with black ink (or the paper is blackened with lampblack and inscribed with white or colored chalk/ink.). Recitation sessions (and texts) start after a brief chanting of Pali scripture (usually seven books of the Abhidhamma, i.e. the Basket of Higher Doctrine, the last of the three constituting parts of the Pali Canon which contains a detailed scholastic analysis and summary of the Buddha’s teachings.), before the actual Phra Malai legend begins.

69.

The legend is in rather easy Thai, written in the kap poetry style derived from Cambodian, and emphasizes karmic retribution for sins and good deeds. The popular versions include greatly expanded parts and illustrations about Phra Malai’s visit to Hell. In addition, Phra Malai Klon Suat manuscripts are also commonly combined with at least images (rarely texts) from the Thotsachāt ทศชาติ (The last ten birth tales of the Buddha), as is our version. Indeed, the last tale of the Thotsachāt, the Vessantara Jātaka, is the tale whose recitation in one day and one night is told to Phra Malai to be one of the best merit-increasing endeavors.

The Thai funerary context originally implied entertainment and an atmosphere of fun. Such screens are often depicted in the first illustration of the manuscripts, although not in ours, where the monks are rather serious. Reactions against that began during the times of Rama I, but proved difficult to enforce. Still, reading the Phra Malai in these contexts suffered a slow decline, and is now rarely performed.

3.

12.

Selected sources:
Brereton, Bonnie Pacala, Thai Tellings of Phra Malai: Texts and Rituals Concerning a Popular Buddhist Saint, Tempe: Arizona State University, Program for Southeast Asian Studies, 1995.

Brereton, Bonnie Pacala, “Those strange-looking monks in Phra Malai manuscript paintings: Voices of the text,” paper for the 13th International Conference on Thai studies: Globalized Thailand? Connectivity, conflict and conundrums of Thai Studies, 15-18 July 2017, Chiang Mai, Thailand, pp. 68-75

Ginsburg, Henry, Thai Art and Culture: Historic Manuscripts from Western Collections, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000

Ginsburg, Henry, Thai Manuscript Painting, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989.

Igunma, Jana, “A Buddhist monk’s journey to heaven and hell,” Journal of International Association of Buddhist Universities 3 (2012), pp. 65-62

Peltier, Anatole, “Iconographie de la légende de Braḥ Mālay,“ Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême Orient 76 (1982), pp. 63-76

Explanation of the images
Our version of the Phra Malai Klon Suat contains the following illustrations (the numbers refer to those given to the images given in the digitized version, not to the actual folio): https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/9985474

3. This is the usual opening scene of Phra Malai Klon Suat manuscripts, where monks, carrying their talabat fans preside over the funeral wake of a deceased person. Wakes traditionally were an occasion of entertainment, although the 19th century saw a religious movement and laws against that practice. In fact, both the monks and the attendees are here, in comparison with other manuscripts, rather demure. The Phra Malai manuscript would be read during such funeral wake, making this a self-referential image.

5. This manuscript contains also images from the Thotsachāt (The Ten Birth Tales of the Buddha) and Pali extracts from the Buddhist canon, before the actual Thai Phra Malai Klon Suat starts. These images refer to the third tale. Sama, the future Buddha, looks after his blind parents living as ascetics in the forest. The misguided demon king Piliyakkha shoots Sama when fetching water for his parent, attended by two deer. Thanks to his and his parents’ great merit, Sama comes back to life, and his parents regain their eyesight.

8. In the sixth tale of the Thotsachāt, the future Buddha is a serpent divinity (naga) called Bhuridatta. While coiled around an ant-hill during a fast, he is captured by a vicious hunter who has a spell which can even ensnarl a naga (the spell is hidden in the water he sprinkles on the naga with the branch leaf). The tortured Bhuridatta then is carried to events where has to perform for the hunter, which he does without resentment, ultimately regaining his freedom.

12. These images exemplify the intertwining of the Ten Birth Tales with the Legend of Phra Malai. The left image could come from the fourth birth tale, on King Nimi, who, like Phra Malai, is guided by a divine charioteer through the hells and heavens, as well as the Phra Malai. To the left we see a kapok thorn tree, where adulterers are punished, with the man bitten by a dog and being forced to climb the thorn tree to reach his lover at the top pecked by a vulture. They never meet each other, and the punishment is continuous. To the right we see Phra Malai himself hovering above the denizens of hell. Displayed here are probably those who became intoxicated while on earth, and they have acid or molten copper poured down their throats. Visiting Hell, by his very presence Phra Malai temporarily causes rain to decrease the fire of Hell, allowing the victims to tell their stories. They implore him to make their situation known to their descendants on earth, and create merit on their behalf. The crucifixion shown here and in other similar illustration may be a Western influence of the 19th century—the image above this victim’s head probably derives from a halo, or a crown of thorns; it may also refer to the flying disks which in Hell torture victims’ heads.

24. This is a full-fledged hell scene, the only image without a central text. Those who butcher pigs for a living or cheat others have their body hairs become sharp swords embedded in their skin (upper left); corrupt rulers are have huge, decayed, foul-smelling testicles hanging down the ground “like a yam shoulder bag” (bottom left); those who abuse their parents or corrupt leaders will have disks cutting of their heads drenched with blood (left?); those abusing monks fall into an iron cauldron in the Lohakumbhi Hell (right, below Phra Malai); those who believe in false spirit mediums are reborn as ghosts that are part animal, part human (top.) The crucified image of the Nimi Tale reoccurs at the bottom, with halo/ crown of thorns/flying disk.

32. A very poor man plucks lotuses and presents them to Phra Malai, with the request that he will never be born poor again. His wish is granted, and Phra Malai will later offer the lotuses in heaven at the Culamani Cetiya. This event is the occasion for painting a landscape scene in these manuscripts. Originally a woodcutter who came to bath, in later versions the poor man became to be described as a poor peasant needing to wash of his sweat after a day of work, with whom the listeners to the story could identify themselves.

46. Having received the eight lotuses from the poor peasant, Phra Malai immediately goes to the Tavatimsa heaven to offer them to the eight directions of the Culamani Cetiya, a stupa with the relics of Buddha’s hair. He encounters there many deva Great Beings or Deities, one of whom is displayed at the right side, with red halo and exquisitely dressed. Each of these male devas is accompanied by from hundred to tens and tens of thousands of female angels, the number varying according to their merits. These devas all come to pay homage to the Culamani stupa, which was built by Indra, the King of Gods, in order to give also the Deities an opportunity to continue to gain merit. Indra tells Phra Malai the circumstances of how each of these Great Beings accumulated their number of merits.

69. Finally the Buddha of the Future (Metteyya, in Sanskrit Maitreya) arrives from his Tusita Heaven. After having paid reverence to the cetiya, he explains to Phra Malai what will happen on earth before he will be reincarnated on earth. First the world will see a strong deterioration of the Buddhist dharma, with people’s life spans becoming increasingly short and incestuous promiscuity in every possible combination reigning everywhere. Most people will die. But after seven days, a new harmonious society will appear, and the earth will flourish. The Metteya will then be born in the human realm and attain enlightenment. These two images are of that harmonious society. All humans who have followed the Buddha’s way of life will be reborn. Huge kalpavriksha wish trees will provide those humans who have fed and clothed monks with whatever goods and valuables they wish for. In the left image a family plucks valuables from such a tree with a pole, while at the right people walk in the predicted harmony, free from worries and sickness. Even the level of water will be just right, “so that a crow can drink just by tilting its head… and so clear that you can see the fish.”

85. These last illustrations usually come earlier. At the left Indra (traditionally in green) is seen conversing with Phra Malai, in front of the Culamani cetiya. To the right the Buddha of the Future, Metteyya, arrives, heralded by his retinue.