Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Calligraphy Shodo Japan

Japanese shodou Calligraphy


As with most cultural traditions, the practice of writing or more appropriately painting or brushing the characters of the Japanese written language came from ancient China. Origins of the art form can be traced back to 28thcentury BC with introduction to Japan in 600AD. The tradition which became a flourishing art form, has several styles, but to name a few of the main forms:

Seal Script or tensho 添書
Clerical Script or reisho 隷書
Regular Script or kaisho 楷書
Cursive or sousho 草書
Semi-cursive or gyousho 行書

Why would I want a shodou Japanese calligraphy painting?

  • wish to learn more about the form and beauty of asian calligraphy
  • desire to use it as a way to find more peace through meditation
  • hope to use it as a centerpiece for studying the Japanese tea ceremony
  • a great piece of art that signifies the emphasis on spirit instead of the physical
  • an endless way to interpret the meaning both literally (if possible) and figuratively

Most of what we find at local auctions and is within a reasonable budget are large calligraphy from edo period to the modern era and are regular script, semi cursive and cursive. Often we find that our staff and most Japanese cannot read the characters and so owners need to have faith in what is represented and follow zen Buddhist practices to just ‘know’ or ‘feel’ the meaning from the visual representation. This means to admire the flow of the ink and imagery and not to be too concerned with the actual meaning as written. Occasionally we can read the script and in these cases it is obviously useful to ‘know’ the actual characters and the intended meaning. Trust in your own interpretation.

Artist: RYO;

Tea Ceremony

One of the most intriguing ideas of enjoying or admiring Japanese calligraphy comes from the idea that before starting the Japanese tea ceremony we should clear our minds by viewing the calligraphy. This means to sit silently and as those who meditate understand, we simply aim to clear our minds of extraneous thoughts. Sounds easy, if you have no practice at this we suggest you try to just sit and clear your mind and not think about anything, just ‘be’. You may be amused or even frustrated at why this is so difficult. I recommend you learn about traditional meditation by a local expert or using Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book  Get in the Gap, which can help you learn to be in this moment of calm. Often guests at a tea ceremony may ask the host about the scroll which was chosen specifically for the event.
DARUMA with Cursive Calligraphy

Mulberry washi Canvas

The script is usually painted using charcoal or sumi ink on mulberry or washi paper. The canvas is said to be the toughest to paint on, as what it reveals is immediate and truly shows the thoughts and level of calm of the artist/author. As mentioned in another post, the enso or the ‘circle of enlightenment’ is one way in which the artist/monk attempts to achieve this moment of ‘no thought’ mushin or the moment when we are truly connected to the universe.

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