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Theatres of the East

Theatres of the East
Theatres of the East
This exhibition allows you to view the magnificent Japanese handscroll painting by the artist Furuyama Moromasa. The handscroll dates back to between 1710 - 1730 and measures 13 metres (44 feet) in length. It depicts the bustling theatre district of Edo, modern-day Tokyo.

The artwork, entitled 'Theatres of the East' was gifted to Central Library in 1945 by the daughter of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major role in revolutionising the Japanese engineering education system. Artists and collectors in the West have long prized the colour and precision of Japanese workmanship in previous centuries and that influence continues to this day.

When the handscroll was rediscovered in the Libraries' Special Collections, Central Library collaborated with National Museums Scotland to secure funding from the Sumitomo Foundation for the 300-year-old painting's intensive two-year restoration project by Restorient Studio, conservation specialists in Leiden, the Netherlands.

Conservation work, costing around £40,000, included relining the handscroll and consolidating pigments to reduce the impact of ageing, as well as providing a custom-made silk casing. You can read more about the scroll's conservation process via the Tales of One City blog.

The handscroll represents a major discovery in the 'ukiyo-e' school of art, and its detailed illustration of Japanese street life has provided a source of new information for scholars. All manner of daily life and activity is taking place.

Click on each image to zoom in and browse the incredible detail within each section. See if you can spot the bathhouse, the man in his tower keeping a watchful eye out for fires, a puppet theatre, tightrobe walking acrobats, a dog chasing rats away and even a pantomime horse....

(Note - handscrolls are viewed from right to left, so this painting begins with the opening onto the street and ends with the bathhouse. If you'd like to enjoy this artwork in the correct sequence from beginning to end, click on the last image in the series and use the left facing arrow above the Item Record text panel to work backwards).