Epic Fart Battles of History
Upon first glance, this 200-year-old Japanese scroll appears to depict an epic battle of fart against fart, an affirmation of the universal and timeless appreciation for a good toot joke.
While most westerners would probably take the scroll at face value, as an early, silly pseudo-comic with no other goal that to make a few fart jokes, the artists behind the He-gassen (which to us sounds like some street slang for pointing the finger), or “fart-battle", scroll had loftier goals in mind.
It may not occur to us, but apparently it would have been clear for readers at the time to identify it as social and political commentary. Encoded within the symbolism of the fart-battle is a pointed statement against the increasing intrusion of Europeans in Japan between 1603 and 1868. The gaseous weaponry served to represent Japan’s concern and mistrust towards increasing European influence.
Evidently the Japanese artist or artists were not happy with the way the winds were shifting.