As a bit of a change from our normal content, please see the attached presentation with my interpretation of 宮本武蔵 の 枯木鳴鵙図 Miyamoto Musashi`s Koboku Meigeki Zu “Shrike on a Withered Tree”.
In the philosophy of Kanō Jigorō, a well-rounded human pursues the study of 文武両道 bunbu ryōdō “the martial and the arts, both Ways”. This concept, that the study of both martial Ways and the Way of the arts is vital to balanced humanity is widely spread in the Far East; years ago I visited an ancient Buddhist temple in Vietnam and leaned my shoulder against a huge pillar to steady myself to take a long-exposure photo inside in the dim light. After I took some shots, I put my palm on the vermillion pillar to push myself upright, and only then noticed that my hand fell next to an intricate pattern carefully carved into the huge pillar and painted in black to stand out – 文武両道.
Although a miserable artist and calligrapher myself, I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of true artists to create a separate reality on canvas, and, for me, the fewer strokes, the better.
In Japan a genre called 墨絵 sumie, ink painting (sometimes ink wash painting) has a tremendous history. Classically written Japanese and Chinese are written with a brush dipped in ink. Traditionally the ink is made by rubbing soot ink from a 墨 sumi inkstick, a dried block like a soot crayon stabilized in glue, on the 硯 suzuri inkstone, and mixing it with water and adjusting for darkness. Practiced by hundreds of millions around the world for thousands of years, such calligraphy also provides a basis in the techniques of sumie ink wash painting, using the same basic simple tools.
One of the best known proponents of 文武両道 studying both the martial and the arts is the famous swordsman 宮本武蔵 Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645). Swordsman, strategist, philosopher, author, ronin masterless samurai and sumie artist, Musashi, as he is commonly known today, was never bested in 61 recorded duels. In his first duel at age 13, he wielded a wooden staff to best a grown man armed with a sword, stunned him with a blow between his eyes, then beat him to death…..
(continued at “READ MORE” link below,
including a PowerPoint presentation that can be downloaded.)