Friday, March 23, 2012

The Twelve Zodiac Animals vs. the Badgers

The MET has an exhibit called Storytelling in Japan.

The Battle of the Twelve Animals scroll was my favorite.  It tells the story of a battle between the twelve zodiac animals against the tanuki which is an animal like a badger or raccoon (translated to badger in the exhibit).  There is a poetry contest between the twelve zodiac animals and the deer is the judge.  When the tanuki sees all the attention the deer is recieving he decides he would like to judge the next poetry context.  The other animals laugh at this suggestion.  The tanuki becomes angry and fights against the twelve but they defeat him.  He attacks them again at night while they are asleep and the tanuki win.  This is the scroll that is in the MET exhibit.  

In the end the twelve zodiac animals defeat the tanuki who is enlightened and becomes a monk.  

I loved the depiction of the animals in the scroll and the clothing they wear, the colors are so bright.  

photos from the NYPL digital archive

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