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The Ancient Japanese Had A Very Terrifying Concept Of What Hell Might Be

OCTOBER 20, 2015  —  By Tim Unkenholz  
Tim Unkenholz

Tim Unkenholz

Writer and stand up comedian in NY. Check out my monthly comedy show Roomie Raiders at the Creek and The Cave! @timunken

Most of the classic depictions of Hell that we're familiar with come from Western works such as Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost, but that's not to say that Eastern cultures aren't acquainted with these hellish images as well.

What is arguably the most gruesome depiction of the underworld actually came two centuries before Dante's seminal work in the form of a scroll that was created by an unknown Japanese artist. The work, known as Hell Scroll, was drawn by hand in the 12th century, and it hasn't lost an ounce of its horror in the years since. Here are seven of the sixteen lesser Hells as depicted by an artist who was obviously more than a little bit screwed up.

Hell of Excrement

Hell of Measures

Hell of the Iron Mortar

Hell of the Flaming Rooster

Hell of the Black Sand Cloud

Hell of Pus and Blood

Hell of Foxes and Wolves

Each picture is accompanied by a bit of text describing what you'd have to do to be imprisoned in one of these places. The other hells include "The Five Prongs," "Starvation," "Searing Thirst," "The Single Bronze Cauldron," "The River of Ashes," "Sword Leaves," "Freezing Ice," and one called "The Grinder," which presumably refers to the new comedy on FOX starring Rob Lowe and Fred Savage that is bound to be hellish in its own right.