Created during Japan’s Edo period in the late 1840s, the He-Gassen (translated literally as “fart battle”) scroll measures approximately thirty-four feet long with about fifteen different scenes depicting various forms of vicious vapors and tempestuous toots. While the original creator remains unknown, it’s likely that the scroll was a political cartoon of sorts, serving as commentary on a new wave of unwelcome Western influence. At the time, xenophobia was rampant under the Tokugawa shogunate. Japan was struggling against the external influence and cultural threats of Europeans and Americans, who were forcing unfavorable trade agreements on the empire. One theory is that He-Gassen shows wealthy merchants who collaborated with foreign powers being attacked by the flatulent firestorm, while another suggests that the Westerners themselves are being bombarded by the blasts.
These are not your grandmother’s punctilious poots. These are earth-shattering, antagonistic, air biscuit assaults. He-Gassen literally means “fart battle”. The original scroll on which these images were painted unfurls to nearly thirty-four feet long, and features about fifteen different scenes depicting various forms of pernicious gas-passing. The illustrated handscroll, or emaki, is a traditional medium made of individual sheets of paper or silk attached along their horizontal edge and rolled around a dowel. Held by hand and best viewed by only a few people at a time, it’s a relatively intimate experience. As the emaki is unfurled segment by segment, the narrative reveals itself in an almost cinematic manner. The He-Gassen scroll would have played out one tableau of troublemaking toots at a time, an escalating war of wind-breaking. The drama is palpable ... or shall we say smellable ... Read more on the blog!
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+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
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Museo Portfolio Rag
11"x14" | edition of 200