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Daido Bunka enso

12 July, 2010 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

daido bunka enso

This unusual enso based on the character for heart/mind was made by Daido Bunka in the first half of the eighteenth century.

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The Character for ”Heart/Mind” as an Ens?, 18th century, by Daido Bunka (Japan, 1680-1752). Hanging scroll, ink on paper, image 11 3/16 x 21 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Edwin Janss, M.84.211.1.

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Torei Enji enso

19 March, 2008 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

enso, or zen circle, by torei enji

Here’s another enso, or Zen circle, by Torei Enji (1721-1792). Compare this to the Torei enso posted 12 March. Here his brush is more unevenly inked, creating a range of grays, with the darkest areas either on the inside or outside of the line. As the brush approaches the top of the circle its pressure is lightened, then reapplied for the swooping downward motion. For this enso Torei adds a dot in the center.

The calligraphy is translated by Stephen Addis as “The images presents itself, nothing more.” This work, from the Gitter-Yelen Collection, appeared in an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum.

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Hakuin enso and Daruma

18 March, 2008 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

hakuin enso

Here’s a delightful enso by the Rinzai Zen master Hakuin Ekaku Zenji (1686-1769). Unassuming and unaffected yet not at all reticent, it displays an exceptionally even and steady hand, with only a hint of the beginning and end at bottom left.

As a bonus, here’s a Hakuin Daruma, which reveals some of the same qualities.

hakuin daruma

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Torei Enji enso

12 March, 2008 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

zen circle by torei enji (1721-1792)

This enso is by Torei Enji (1721-1792), who excelled at the Zen circle. Torei began this one by pressing his brush down hard at the lower left and swiftly continuing around the circle while lifting the brush.

The calligraphy says “In heaven and on the earth, I alone am worthy of honor,” lines attributed at birth to the historical Buddha.

Yoko Woodson, curator of Japanese art at the Asian Art Museum, thinks that the curious smudgy echo of the enso at the lower left represents a shell.

Kanjuro Shibata enso

11 March, 2008 (05:00) | 20th c, japan, paintings | By: xensen

kanjuro shibata xx enso

Form is void and void is form.
– The Heart Sutra

Let’s have a look at some Zen circles, or ensos. A symbol of wholeness and cyclic return — and some would say of enlightenment — this simple figure seems ideally suited to brush and ink, and it can be surprisingly expressive. Every good enso has some individual quality that sets it apart from others.

This enso, by Kanjuro Shibata XX, who served as the bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan from 1959 until 1994, has a twist — literally. Kanjuro Shibata puts a sort of lock on the join in his circle, perhaps much as an archer locks in on his target.

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China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy

8 March, 2013 (10:03) | ancient, ceramics/metal/stone, china, sculpture | By: xensen

That’s the title of the exhibition showing at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco through May 27. I received my new camera — an Olympus E-PL2 — a couple of days ago and took of few pictures of the warriors yesterday. The E-PL2 is a micro four thirds mirrorless camera that has a near-DSL-size sensor but a small body. It should be perfect for the travel photography that I like to do.

The AAM display features dark-colored walls and dark rooms with moody lighting. The warriors are not, of course, light sensitive — originally they were brightly painted, but they are never shown that way today — but the exhibition design makes an effective display. Low light situations are not really this camera’s strength, but it performed pretty capably.

terracotta warriors and horse

terracotta warrior (kneeling archer)

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San Francisco Zen Center tour of Asian Art Museum

9 January, 2009 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, japan | By: xensen

logo of san francisco zen center featuring an enso by founder suzuki roshi

Folks in the San Francisco area on February 26, March 26, or April 23 this year have an opportunity to tour the Asian Art Museum with members of the San Francisco Zen Center. Each group is limited to 15 people. Cost is $20, which includes $15 for dinner in the Asian’s private dining area, which is usually restricted mainly to high-level donors. Sign-up is by e-mail to events [at] sfzc [dot] org, specifying a date.

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