Loading Spinner

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

See all items

Yanagawa Plum Blossom Sumi on Paper Scroll Painted by Yanagawa Koran, poem by Yanagawa Seigan.
May 28, 12:00 PM BST
Yanagawa Plum Blossom Sumi on Paper Scroll Painted by Yanagawa Koran, poem by Yanagawa Seigan.
by Orion Asian Art
Est: £300- £500
£9003 Bids
Japanese Scroll Painting of Daikoku and Mice, Signed Shiun
May 28, 12:00 PM BST
Japanese Scroll Painting of Daikoku and Mice, Signed Shiun
by Orion Asian Art
Est: £18- £30
£402 Bids
Kano School Pair of Landscape Scroll Paintings with fitted wooden box. Signed Iseunin
May 28, 12:00 PM BST
Kano School Pair of Landscape Scroll Paintings with fitted wooden box. Signed Iseunin
by Orion Asian Art
Est: £90- £150
£2502 Bids
Set of Three Scenes of Kabuki Scroll Paintings
May 28, 12:00 PM BST
Set of Three Scenes of Kabuki Scroll Paintings
by Orion Asian Art
Est: £90- £150
£2502 Bids
Japanese Scroll Painting of Irises
May 28, 12:00 PM BST
Japanese Scroll Painting of Irises
by Orion Asian Art
Est: £30- £50
£802 Bids
Vertical Japanese Scroll painting
Jun 02, 10:00 AM PDT
Vertical Japanese Scroll painting
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $120- $150
$1000 Bids
Vertical Japanese Scroll painting seven samurai
Jun 02, 10:00 AM PDT
Vertical Japanese Scroll painting seven samurai
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $200- $300
$1800 Bids
Vertical Japanese Silk Scroll painting Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito
Jun 02, 10:00 AM PDT
Vertical Japanese Silk Scroll painting Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $400- $500
$3000 Bids
Vertical Japanese Silk Scroll painting seven figures
Jun 02, 10:00 AM PDT
Vertical Japanese Silk Scroll painting seven figures
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $120- $150
$900 Bids
Japanese Calligraphy Scroll
May 29, 11:00 AM EDT
Japanese Calligraphy Scroll
by Willow Auction House
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
ANONYMOUS
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
ANONYMOUS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €900- €1,500
€7000 Bids
bp parity badge
Antique Japanese Jo and Uba Handpainted Scroll
Jun 16, 2:00 PM PDT
Antique Japanese Jo and Uba Handpainted Scroll
by Pasadena Antique Warehouse
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
SHIBATA ZESHIN (1807 - 1891) attr.
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
SHIBATA ZESHIN (1807 - 1891) attr.
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,500- €2,500
€7500 Bids
Japanese Calligraphy Scroll
May 29, 11:00 AM EDT
Japanese Calligraphy Scroll
by Willow Auction House
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Japanese Painted Scroll
May 29, 11:00 AM EDT
Japanese Painted Scroll
by Willow Auction House
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Part of a mandala mounted as a hanging scroll
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
Part of a mandala mounted as a hanging scroll
by Nagel Auction
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€1,5000 Bids
SIGNED YUAN ZAIZHONG (1750-1837).A JAPANESE INK AND COLOR ON PAPER HANGING SCROLL PAINTING.H299.
May 28, 11:00 AM EDT
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.
May 28, 11:00 AM EDT
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
Unbekannter Künstler, Japan, um 1900
Jun 08, 10:00 AM CEST
Unbekannter Künstler, Japan, um 1900
by Auktionshaus Arnold
Est: €0- €0
€2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Scrolls


Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Orion Asian Art

Orion Asian Art

Willow Auction House

Willow Auction House