[China]: n.d. Large (33.5x55 cm) accordion-folded volume of eighteen hand-painted panels. These paintings would be displayed by a lecturer for an audience to see while delivering a sermon on the sins they portrayed. Each panel is painted on both front and back. Most panels show someone being judged after death for a particular sin, with the punishment for that sin being carried out in the upper portion of the painting. Undated, but probably late Qing or Republican era. The covers have been professionally re-attached to the accordion-format body of the book (name of conservator available upon request). The rear board is quite stained, with some discoloration to the facing painting; the other painted panels are mildly worn and soiled but still quite bright.
An example of the scenes depicted: In the lower half of one panel, a man wearing a hat is sentenced for he sin of having exploiting others - the demonic guards at court hold up a picture of him during his lifetime putting his foot on the back of some poor fellow whom he has forced to kneel on the ground. The miscreant’s punishment is to be fed into a stone mill, of the sort used for grinding grain into flour. In the upper half of the panel we see the demons carrying out his sentence, holding the man by the legs and feeding him into the mill to be ground into pulp. A stream of blood pours forth from the bottom; a dog laps at it. Other punishments include being tied to hot metal smokestacks, climbing through a forest of sharp spikes, being sent out to freeze in a field of ice, being immobilized between boards while one's head is sawed open, and more. The last panel depicts the wheel of reincarnation in the upper half of the painting - unlike the Christian hell, the Chinese Buddhist conception was a purgatory en route to reincarnation. Once any applicable sentences have been carried out, the soul is readied for its new vessel. The options depicted in this painting range from prosperous gentleman to lowly insect, depending upon one's past behavior.