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We’re not art experts, but the disproportionate figures have us pretty convinced that they’re early super deformed art.

These wonderfully playful pieces of art are titled Tsukishima Monogatari Emaki (“Picture Scrolls of the Tale of Tsukishima”) and just by looking at them you can see that they are as charming as they are simplistic. The people, buildings, and settings are all so adorable; it’s almost as if a chibi-filter has been placed over the art, since this isn’t the dominant style of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573).

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While the pictures are delightful, the story depicted in the scrolls almost doesn’t fit the style. The images tell the tale of Taira no Kiyomori, a military leader with many ambitions. He decided he wanted to build a port in what today is Hyogo Prefecture, and in order to make sure that the building was successful, 30 people were captured and ordered to be sacrificed to the gods. A young man who was close to Taira no Kiyomori couldn’t stand the thought of all these people being sacrificed, though, and offered himself instead. The man is subsequently thrown into the ocean to drown along with 10,000 copies of the Lotus Sutra, a very important Buddhist text of the time.

▼ Taira no Kiyomori watches as his 30 sacrifices are captured.

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▼ Just rounding them all up in this adorable house. Sorry! You look really cute in captivity though.

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▼ These characters are very sweetly throwing copies of the Lotus Sutra into the sea.

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It just goes to show you that appearances are often deceiving, but it doesn’t make them any less cute. For those in Japan who want to see these in person, these endearing picture scrolls with the sordid story can be viewed at the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo. Luckily, you can trade cash for a ticket to get in, no sacrifices necessary.

Source: Japaaan
Images: Bakemono Blog