Category Archives: Calligraphy

[S. Korea] Tripitaka Festival Showcases Buddhist Marvel [until 09 Nov 2013]

The Chosun Ilbo
September 27, 2013

A festival began Thursday celebrating the Tripitaka Koreana, a priceless collection of Buddhist scripture that is currently housed at Haeinsa Temple in South Gyeongsang Province. It will run until Nov. 9.

The collection was carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks in the 13th century seeking divine intervention to ward off an invasion by the Mongols. It also ranks as the world’s most comprehensive and oldest preserved version of Buddhist canon written in Chinese characters. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995.

Surrounded by the towering Mt. Gaya, the temple has served as the home of the Tripitaka Koreana since 1251. Its Janggyeong Panjeon was specifically built in the 15th century to store the woodblocks, given the beneficial effect of its natural surroundings in helping preserve them. It faces southwest to avoid the damp southeasterly winds from the valley below, while the cold north wind is blocked by the mountain peaks. Meanwhile, differently sized windows on the northern and southern sides provide adequate ventilation.

During the festival, a rock carving of the Buddha will also be unveiled to the public for the first time in 1,200 years.

Near the temple is a six-km road that includes a Buddhist-themed path running beside a mountain stream. The colorful fall foliage adds to its beauty during the fall.

Various pieces of art relating to the Tripitaka Koreana line the path, inspired by the works of artists who spent months meditating at the temple.

Apart from exhibiting some of the oldest wooden blocks, the festival includes a movie theater featuring advanced technology and special effects, and an exhibition about the history of the Koryo Dynasty, which governed the country when the Tripitaka Koreana was created. In addition to historical relics, the main exhibition hall details how the wooden blocks were made and preserved.

Those who purchase tickets can also enjoy discounted meals and accommodation, as well as special promotional prices for local baseball games. Tickets cost W10,000 for adults (US$1=W1,075).

For more details, call 055-211-6251 or access its website at


Art, Rinzai Buddhism and Japanese Culture: Sengai Gibon and Sesshu Toyo

Modern Tokyo Times
Lee Jay Walker
19 September, 2013


In Japan the individuals Sesshu Toyo (1420-1506) and Sengai Gibon (1750-1837) have left a rich legacy behind because even today these two intriguing people continue to fascinate people who adore art and culture. Art and religion were instrumental to these two powerful characters even if the outcome to these two areas were very different. For Sesshu Toyo he sometimes felt entrapped by conservative aspects and ritual related to Rinzai Buddhism. However, for Sengai Gibon spirituality was everything therefore he didn’t fully utilize his artistic skills until much later in life.

Sengai Gibon also neglected the trappings of focusing overtly on high culture and traditional artistic norms related to the world of Rinzai Buddhism when it comes to art. Instead his art highlights humor but with a deeper message providing the individual shares the same philosophical background. Of course, the interpretation, connection and meaning will vary dramatically between individuals who view the art work of Sengai Gibon. Also, Sengai Gibon understood the need to attract all people to Rinzai Buddhism irrespective of background therefore light themes to his art could also breakdown many barriers.


However, Sesshu Toyo focused on sublime art which based itself on the rich traditions of the time but fused with individualism and new thinking. Yet Sesshu Toyo, unlike Sengai Gibon, struggled with his love of art and the religious vocation which he had. Therefore, at times he felt trapped between the religious world and his inner-artistic nature which flowed throughout his veins. Continue reading

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Live, Meditative Calligraphy Will Absolutely Inspire You

Huffington Post
13 September, 2013

TNH6Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) has been revered for his work in peace, compassion and understanding since he was ordained in 1949.

The basis of his discipline is mindfulness: His teachings reflect his belief that dwelling in the present moment — not the future or the past — is the only way to sustain true peace.

While the enlightened teacher has kept a busy schedule — adding to his large body of published work and striving to alleviate third world suffering through Plum Village, the mindfulness practice center he founded — Thich Nhat Hanh has most recently hosted a calligraphy exhibit at ABC Home in New York City. Continue reading

Wales: New Gallery of Tibetan Calligraphy and Fine Art

 A Gallery solely dedicated to fine Tibetan scriptural art is perhaps the first of its kind in the western world? But is defiantly a first for internationally celebrated contemporary Tibetan calligraphy artist Tashi Mannox.
This September launched the “Tashi Gallery” pleasantly situated in the heart of the famous town of books Hay-on-Wye. This is a very popular destination for it’s surrounding beauty in Brecon Beacon National Park and hosts the yearly internationally acclaimed Hay Book Festival.
The picturesque Welsh border town nestles below the Black Mountains on the banks of the majestic River Wye, is a lively cosmopolitan town that boasts a wealth of arts and literature. Only such a town can comfortably accommodate a Gallery of Dharma art of Eastern origin.
Tashi Gallery exclusively offers original art masterpieces as well as excellent quality limited edition prints of Tashi Mannox’s complete works. Also for Eastern Calligraphy enthusiasts, there is an opportunity to select the finest quality Japanese seal inks, Tashi Mannox has collaborated with the oldest Japanese traditional seal ink makers to create four different color shades of vermilion pigments representing ‘The Four Season’.  This is also the first time such quality inks are made available in the West.
For information and photos, visit Tashi’s blog via the [link].

Book Review: Do Not Waste Your Time Admiring a Painted Rice Cake

Wild Fox Zen
July 28, 2013

Pamela D.  Winfield has undertaken a wonderfully detailed and intelligent study, Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism: Kukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment, suitable for hopeless Dogen geeks (or Kukai geeks if there be such people) like myself and Buddhist scholars, of course, but maybe not the masses.

This morning, Amazon has the book at #680,626 – so, okay, for sure not the masses.

However, there is much here that informs the practice of Zen. And some that doesn’t. In this post, I’ll try to give you a little of each.

Winfield aims at answering three big questions: “Do images help or hinder the realization of Buddhahood? Does the experience of awakening involve the imagination or not? Can art ever represent the experience of enlightenment itself?” Continue reading

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Calligraphy Exhibit: Five Pieces From the Show

Barbara Chai
September 6, 2013

New York’s ABC Home and Blue Cliff Monastery will host the U.S. premiere of Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphy exhibit this fall, displaying 88 original works of calligraphy by the Buddhist monk and spiritual leader.

Thich Nhat Hanh, who is also known as Thay, has incorporated calligraphy in his meditative practice for more than two decades. He drinks a cup of Chinese black tea before sitting to write, and adds drops of tea into the calligraphy ink. His pieces show an energy and life force within each brush stroke, said Sister Chan Khong, who has studied and worked with Thay for more than 50 years.

Below is a preview of five pieces in the ABC Home exhibition, which runs from Sept. 7 to Dec. 31. Check back in for more on Thich Nhat Hanh and follow @barbarachai.

homebreathe you are alive. just breathing and becoming aware that we are still alive can bring us great happiness. when we breathe mindfully, we reclaim our territory of body and mind and we encounter life in the present moment. from the U.S. premiere exhibition: calligraphic meditation: the mindful art of Thich Nhat Hanh, abc home, Sept. 7-Dec. 31

For more examples, follow the [link].

Book Review: Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism

from Buddhadharma
Koun Franz
May 20, 2013

Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese BuddhismKukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment
By Pamela D. Winfield
Oxford University Press, 2013 240 pages; $27.95

When I was a novice at Shogoji monastery, every day I passed by some framed calligraphy by the main doors of the dharma hall, excerpts from theTen Examples of Suchness (junyoze). For weeks, I gave it no attention at all; the schedule was strict, and there was always somewhere else to be. Then one day I looked at it and almost jumped—every Chinese character was also a picture in itself. Instead of the two-stroke character for “person,” there was an intricate painting of an actual man; the character for body, intended in the text to mean “substance,” was crafted out of a butterfly in flight. I don’t know how many times I came back to this bit of writing on the wall, but every time I did, every time I looked closer, I found some small detail that had always been there, some subtle new way in which the text had always been revealing itself.

When art is also a teaching, or when a teaching is presented as art, what are the possibilities, and limitations, of that expression? Can we express enlightenment visually? Can we facilitate enlightenment through an image? These questions are a starting point for how we might understand Buddhist art, and they go to the heart of Pamela Winfield’s Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism. This ambitious and scholarly work explores the refined aesthetics of two highly original teachers who revolutionized not only their own traditions but also Japanese Buddhism as a whole. Continue reading

Curator Conversation: Tantra in Buddhist Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
August 14, 2013

Hevajra, about 1200. Cambodia. Bronze; 46 x 23.9 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Maxeen and John Flower in honor of Dr. Stanislaw Czuma 2011.143

Hevajra, about 1200. Cambodia. Bronze; 46 x 23.9 cm.  The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Maxeen and John Flower in honor of Dr. Stanislaw Czuma 2011.143

The Eastern religious practice of Tantra emphasizing ritual, meditation, and visualization is the subject of the second exhibition in the museum’s new Focus Gallery. Tantra in Buddhist Art features twenty works of art that illustrate the spiritual practices of Tantra in the Buddhist context and document its spread across Asia from the seventh to 17th centuries. Inspiration for this exhibition began with a magnificent piece from a bequest to the museum. Hevajra (c. 1200) was part of a gift from John and Maxeen Flower and is the defining piece of Tantra in Buddhist Art. We spoke with Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, the George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, about how she built the exhibition around Hevajra and the history of Tantric Buddhism. Continue reading