Museum: 800-Year-Old 'Manga' Scroll Had 2 Sides

posted on by Gia Manry
Scroll depicting walking frogs thought by some to be "history's first manga"

The Kyoto National Museum announced that one volume of the scroll series known as the Chōjū-Jinbutsu-Giga Emaki ("Scrolls of Cartoons of Birds, Animals, and People" or "Chōjū Giga" for short) was originally double-sided. The scrolls are thought to be among the oldest precursors to Japanese manga.

Researchers believe the volume in question, the third of four, to be 800 years old and that it was originally 10 sheets of washi paper (made by layering dissolved vegetable fiber) with drawings on both sides, rather than the twenty sheets of one-sided paper currently being restored at the museum's Conservation Center for Cultural Properties. Restoration experts made the discovery when they realized that ink from some of the drawings, which depict frogs walking, had in fact soaked through to others, indicating the original two-sided form.

A 2008 report from the Daily Yomiuri stated that over 133,000 people visited the scroll when the SUNTORY Museum of Art displayed it in 2007, in part due to a spreading theory that the scrolls were the first examples of manga. However, whether the scroll is in fact "history's first manga" is still in dispute.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

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