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Japanese Scrolls

Japanese scrolls traditionally come in two forms: hanging scrolls and hand scrolls. Hanging scrolls, also called kakemono or kakejiku, are usually made of paper or silk mounted on another layer of silk or other fabric that is temporarily hung for display, revealing the entirety of the scroll and its contents. Hand scrolls are made entirely of paper or silk and are only viewed in small sections at a time starting from the right side into the left.

The Japanese hanging scroll consists of four standard parts that represent heaven, earth, and two pillars in between. The top section above the mounted image of kakejiku is considered heaven, the bottom is earth, and the sides are the pillar supports. Traditionally, the top portion is larger than the bottom.

The hand scroll, or emaki, is most suited for illustrating a narrative. These scrolls were painted with both intricate images and beautiful calligraphy. While these scrolls were originally introduced to Japan through Buddhism, secular hand scrolls such as the "Tale of Genji" and "Siege of Sanjo Palace" became important documentations of time and demonstrations of groundbreaking perspective and painting.


Quick Facts

  • Within hand scrolls, text describing a narrative most commonly precedes the image. However, calligraphy can often be broken up between images or chapters
  • Hanging scrolls were not meant to be hung up on the wall permanently. Instead, these scrolls were made to be swapped out depending on occasion and stored away if not displayed for a guest
  • During World War II, hanging scrolls, particularly those featuring beautiful Japanese women in kimonos, were mass produced and cheap to purchase. However, few works have been produced since the war, making hanging scrolls rare. Still, antique hanging scrolls are often affordable at auction

Recommended Items at Auction

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QE2 2 Embarkment Calligraphy Scroll Painting, 1989
Mar 01, 12:00 PM PST
QE2 2 Embarkment Calligraphy Scroll Painting, 1989
by District Auction
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Japanese Minogame Turtle Scroll Painting
Mar 01, 12:00 PM PST
Japanese Minogame Turtle Scroll Painting
by District Auction
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
A Japanese Bronze Scroll Weight in the form of a Foo Dog. 16cm x 3cm x 3cm, Weight 157.7g
Feb 28, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese Bronze Scroll Weight in the form of a Foo Dog. 16cm x 3cm x 3cm, Weight 157.7g
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £50- £75
£101 Bid
Very Long Japanese Silk Brocade Cloth Scroll
Mar 10, 10:00 AM EST
Very Long Japanese Silk Brocade Cloth Scroll
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $75- $100
$301 Bid
Antique Japanese Meiji Bird Hanging Scroll
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Japanese Meiji Bird Hanging Scroll
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $50- $500
$251 Bid
Hanging scroll, Kabuto, Original Japanese Artwork
Mar 02, 2:00 PM GMT
Hanging scroll, Kabuto, Original Japanese Artwork
by JG Auction
Est: £200- £300
£2000 Bids
Tenjinsama, Original Japanese Hanging Scroll
Mar 02, 2:00 PM GMT
Tenjinsama, Original Japanese Hanging Scroll
by JG Auction
Est: £100- £200
£1000 Bids
Japanese Ink on Paper of Bonten
Mar 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Japanese Ink on Paper of Bonten
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $800- $1,200
$1000 Bids
ANTIQUE JAPANESE BIRDS WATERCOLOR PAINTING SCROLL
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE JAPANESE BIRDS WATERCOLOR PAINTING SCROLL
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Japanese Scroll Fragment
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Scroll Fragment
by STAIR
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
SIGNED YUAN ZAIZHONG (1750-1837).A JAPANESE INK AND COLOR ON PAPER HANGING SCROLL PAINTING.H299.
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
SIGNED YUAN ZAIZHONG (1750-1837).A JAPANESE INK AND COLOR ON PAPER HANGING SCROLL PAINTING.H299.
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $1,800- $3,000
$5000 Bids
A JAPANESE INK AND COLOR ON PAPER HANGING PAINTING SCROLL IN 1940S. H684.
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
A JAPANESE INK AND COLOR ON PAPER HANGING PAINTING SCROLL IN 1940S. H684.
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $800- $1,800
$2500 Bids
Japanese School, pillar scroll painting
Mar 08, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese School, pillar scroll painting
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
A RARE JAPANESE EMBROIDERY TIGER SCROLL, MEIJI PERIOD (1868-1912)
Mar 05, 1:00 PM GMT
A RARE JAPANESE EMBROIDERY TIGER SCROLL, MEIJI PERIOD (1868-1912)
by Plakas Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£1500 Bids
Japanese Samuri Painting Scroll
Mar 01, 12:00 PM PST
Japanese Samuri Painting Scroll
by District Auction
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
Japanese Scroll Painting, Woman with Parasol
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Scroll Painting, Woman with Parasol
by Neue Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Japanese Scroll Painting of Bijin
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Scroll Painting of Bijin
by Neue Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Japanese Tiger Scroll Painting
Mar 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Japanese Tiger Scroll Painting
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
(2 Pc) Antique Japanese Nature Scene Hanging Scrolls
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
(2 Pc) Antique Japanese Nature Scene Hanging Scrolls
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $100- $1,000
$500 Bids
(2 Pc) Antique Japanese Buddhist Hanging Scrolls
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
(2 Pc) Antique Japanese Buddhist Hanging Scrolls
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $50- $500
$250 Bids
Japanese Scroll
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Scroll
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $150- $200
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Scrolls


Akiba Galleries

Akiba Galleries

District Auction

District Auction

JG Auction

JG Auction

Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.

Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.