Night Procession of the Hundred Demons
In February of 2008, at the AsianArt Museum of San Francisco, I saw an 18th century scroll called “Night Procession of the Hundred Demons (Hyakki yako)” by the Japanese painter Toriyama Sekien. I was struck by the wildness of this highly imaginative work and was reminded of some lines from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”:
Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,
And with thy bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the crow
Makes wing to th’rooky wood.
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
Thou marvell'st at my words. But hold thee still.
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
The scroll, Shakespeare’s words, and Shoko Hikage’s koto playing became the source of my imagining this piece.
“Night Procession of the Hundred Demons” is dedicated to Shoko Hikage and was made possible by a grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation.