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Gaki Zoshi
All Preta Children Can Dance?
Date:04, Feb, 2021
Investigated and Written by Misaka Youhei
About our introductory articles


Gaki Zoshi is the old pictures featuring Gaki. Are you familiar with Gaki? I suppose most people say no. Few know what Gaki is. What does it mean? You must explain what Gaki is before talking about the Gaki Zoshi said to be illustrated in the 11 or 12th century.



The 3rd Chapter of the Gaki Zoshi
Had by Tokyo National Museum
File: Gaki-Zoushi.jpg
from the Japanese Wikipedia
(Sep. 24, 2007)

Gaki means Preta (hungry ghosts) who often appear in Buddhism. Well, I talk about Buddhism now. In the 5 to 4th century BC India, people believed reincarnation. If you are a musician, you will be a musician in your next life. If you belong to the high class, you will belong again in your next life. They all believed so. And then it made their society stable in a sense. They had no right to choose their job. On the other hand, they had no worries to lose their job as long as taking the reincarnation system for their society.

Gautama Buddha (Siddhattha Gotama) was born in India of those days. He was a noble boy, but he didn’t get satisfied with what he was. And one day he realized what he was truly. He realized he was nothing but him. He would never appear after death. He would die and would never be born again. It means he denied the reincarnation system that their society had used for a long time. Revolution was it, maybe. However, Japan basically didn’t use the reincarnation system on the basis. So they had to spread the idea called rebirth first of all, in order to spread Buddhism in Japan. Then they spread several stories about reincarnation. One of the stories told like this: If you did nothing good in your life, you would be reborn as Preta who had to live with hunger all the time.

What does it explain? Gaki Zoshi is a kind of religious art. They didn’t need to illustrate Gaki if there were no Buddhism there. You may say you can find nothing holy when you look at the pictures. The Gaki all look fine. Seeing the pictures, some may guess they really enjoy their life though they are always hungry. And what on earth is sacred in the pictures? It is difficult to answer. But I believe the painters who actually illustrated the pictures in those days must have enjoyed the painting.

In Japan today, the word Gaki means the saucy children who highly move around. In the 11th century and one thousand years later, we could see Gaki who looked fresh and fine here.






 

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