Choju-Jinbutsu-giga (scrolls of frolicking animals and humans) (鳥獣人物戯画)
Choju-Jinbutsu-giga is a emakimono (an illustrated scroll) that was handed down to Kozan-ji Temple, Ukyo Ward in Kyoto City. It is a National Treasure.
Generally, it is called Choju-giga (the wildlife cartoon.)
It is consists of 4 scrolls of volume Ko, Otsu, Hei, and Tei. Today, the Ko and Hei scrolls are in the possession of the Tokyo National Museum and the Otsu and Tei scrolls are in the possession of the Kyoto National Museum.
It is said to be a work of Sojo TOBA, Kakuyu, however, there is no historical record to prove it, and moreover, there is no way to confirm that he was in fact involved in it. There is an opinion that it was painted by plural painters due to difference of the style of painting, and it is thought that it was produced from the 12th to 13th century (end of Heian period to early Kamakura period) and that it might be a kind of anthology of caricatures of an individual painting by an individual painter of a different time. Perhaps, historically unrenowned priests who grieved over social situations by assimilating animals to people might have drawn caricatures in a smile-provoking way.
In particular, the scroll Otsu in which rabbits, frogs and monkeys were personified and depicted is very famous. It is known that social situations of the time were depicted and it is said to be the oldest cartoon in Japan.
Fragmentary Leaves and Copies
As a long time has passed since Choju-Jinbutsu-giga was drawn and because it is a collection of many individual pictures, it does not remain in it's original form. There are many omissions and changes on the connecting part from the originals, and further, there are also many "fragmentary leaves" which are thought to be originally part of the Choju-Jinbutsu-giga. By the copies and fragmentary leaves that are left today, the originals drawn at the time or intermediate works can be presumed.
Fragmentary leaves in the possession of Tokyo National Museum.
Masudake kyuzo dankan (fragmentary leaves of an old book held by the Masuda family) (A businessman and master of ceremonial tea, Takashi MASUDA's collection.)
Takamatsuke kyuzo dankan (fragmentary leaves of an old book held by the Takamatsu family) (in the possession of the Brooklyn Museum)
Miho Museum shozo dankan (fragmentary leaves in the possession of the Brooklyn Museum)
Sumiyoshi ke denrai mohon (the Sumiyoshi family's ancestral copy) (handed down to the line of "Goyo-eshi" (a purveying painter) to the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) (the middle roll of Toen yugi (rabbit monkey play)
Nagaoke kyuzo mohon (old copy belonging to the Nagao family) (in the possession of the Honolulu Museum)
Copies in the possession of the Kyoto National Museum (copied by Tanyu KANO)
It is said to be a copy of Nagao ke kyuzo mohon.