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Gallery Ensō

In Zen Buddhist painting, Ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body and spirit create in full monent-to-moment concert.

Enso by Kanjuro Shibata XX

A Timeless Circle

Moon Enso ~ Chigai Zenri (1724-1802) ~ Photo: Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Moon Ensō brushed by Chigai
The calligraphy translates:

The moon ascends over the green
A perfectly round jewel.
~ Translator John Stevens

In Buddhism, enlightenment has been symbolized as a 'bright full moon'.

What is an Ensō?

The  Ensō is one of the most prevalent images of Zen Art, and it has become a symbol of  the clean and strong Japanese aesthetic. The ensō is an expression of the mind of the artist who brushes it. As a symbol, the circle expresses the totality of our being. The circle points to the most vital aspect of our essence -- it's ultimate wholeness. The ensō symbolizes enlightenment, power, and the universe itself. It is a direct expression of thusness or this-moment-as-it-is. Ensō  is considered to be one of the most profound subjects in zenga (Zen inspired painting). - Loori

The calligraphy of an Ensō can be profound, mysterious, poetic, and sometimes humorous.  

Drunken Enso by Honda Soho 1992 ~ Photo: Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Drunken Ensō brushed by Soho

Honda Soho Roshi spent many years of rigorous training as a Soto Zen monk but he also enjoyed sake, “wisdom-water” as Japanese Buddhists euphemistically call it. This was written spontaneously at a little country bar after Honda Roshi had been drinking happily with some friends. He called for some ink and paper from the bar owner, and brushed the enso on the spot.
In Japanese, the inscription is “maruku kokoro de kurashimasho.”
Translated means, 'Let's live fully with all our hearts!'
~ Translator John Stevens

Sweet Cake Enso ~ Ashikaga Shizan (1854-1954) ~ Photo: Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Sweet Cake Ensō
brushed by Ashikaga Shizan

Here the enso is both a tea bowl and a sweet cake. This inscription, full of Zen good humor, is often found on enso paintings. The inscription reads, 'Swallow this with a bowl of tea'. An enso has many profound meanings but on occasion it represents something more mundane but just as important.  “Taste Zen and enjoy its full flavor,” is one interpretation; another could be, “Experience Zen in the here and now of everyday acts of life.”
~ Translator John Stevens


My personal favorite Ensō by 'Zenga Master Painter'
Deiryu Kutsu 1895-1954

Bamboo  Ensō
The calligraphy translates:
Leaf after leaf in the pure wind,
As I see you off at the gate, there are tall bamboo.
Just for you, their leaves are raising a pure wind.

Bamboo Enso by Deiryu Kutsu 1895-1954

Bamboo Ensō brushed by Dieryu
This  Ensō is in the private collection of Rusty and Lia Rushton
 The Zen thought behind this Enso is to become the bamboo and to forget you are one with it while drawing it - this is the Zen of the bamboo, this is the moving with the 'rhythmic movement of the spirit' which resides in the bamboo as well as in the artist himself. What is now required of him is to have a firm hold of the spirit and yet not to be conscious of the fact. This is a very difficult task and has given expression to the phrase: "One in All and All in One". When this is thoroughly understood, there is a creative genius".
~ Zen Scholar D. T. Suzuki 

Treasure from my personal Ensō Collection
Potter Ensō Shikishiban

Potter Enso ~ Nakazato Muan (1895-1985) ~ Photo: Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Potter Enso Shikishiban
brushed by Nakazato Maun
about 1976

For his devoted efforts to promoting Karatsu-yaki, potter Nakazato Muan was designated a Living National Treasure (when he was still alive of course). Living National Treasures in Japan are certain individuals or groups who embodied intangible national cultural values as living human treasures, just as places or things of great cultural value are designated as national treasures, thus becoming eligible for special protection and support. Some of the ancient protected crafts are pottery, music, handmade paper, dolls, and swordmaking.

Maun was 12th master of the Nakazato Kiln in Karatsu. He was also ordained a Zen priest in his mid-70s. The Potter Enso is signed Maun kao as translated by John Stevens. “Muan,” is his monastic name so this enso comes from his later years, perhaps around the time of his reception of that great honor in 1976.
And, I am honored to obtain, protect, and cherish it!

Contemporary Western Ensō by Carmel artist
Casey Shannon below:

Brush Paintings currently offered for purchase. Media: Sumi Ink and Japanese watercolor. Please email me, if you are interested in a painting. If art is available, the PayPal purchase button will be added under the piece you are interested in purchasing. Please check in often because I will frequently update the Art Gallery pages with new paintings.  Purchasing Information and Policy 

Original Enso sold through the secure service PayPal

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Enso Noble by Casey

Enso Noble

by Casey Shannon
Please go to New Works for more information 

Enso Quail by Casey
Enso Quail
Prints are available of this Enso.

Sell Art Online

SOLD! In the collection of a collecter from Laguna Niguel, CA.

Enso Carmel River Peace
SOLD - Prints are Available

Art Prints


Enso Sudden Enlightenment 8 x 8 Price: $250

Enso Sudden Enlightenment One

Image: 8 x 8
Media: Sumi (ink) and Japanese Watercolor

This piece was inspired by the power of enlightenment. The black fish is seeking enlightenment and the safety of the enso. The red fish in the enso are already enlightened. The black fish has forgotten that he is perfect as he is and already enlightened but seeks anyway.
Artist Seal/Chop says Sudden Enlightenment.

Price: $100 Currently not Framed

Sold! In the collection of Shawn & Lindsay Green, Irvine CA.

Enso One
Sold - Prints are Available

Enso One is the winner of the Parent's Day competition at ImageKind!
Inside this image of Ensō One is painted a mother bird watching over her nest of babies and eggs. And, protecting it as a pleased and proud parent. As does the Ensō, 'parents symbolize enlightenment and a circle of protection'.

Art Prints

SOLD - To a collector in Southern California

Enso Spring

SOLD - Prints are available

Art Prints

Image 7 x 10

Enso Snow
$100 Currently not Framed

Image 7 x 10

Enso Willow Bud
$100 Currently not Framed


Enso Aven
Not for Sale - Prints are available

Sell Art Online

Enso Sudden Enlightenment

Enso Sudden Enlightenment
$100 Currently not mounted or Framed

This Enso is brushed on Mulberry Paper and this image is 15 x 19 inches. Mulberry Paper is also known as Pi paper in China and Kozo paper in Japan. The paper is made from Mulberry tree leaves and inner bark. This image is currently being made into a scroll and will be available soon. So if you are interested, check back or email me.

This image depects the essence of 'Enlightenment'.
Those seeking it and those who have found it!

Sell Art Online

These Enso images are available as Fine Art Reproductions

Fine Art Prints of these Enso are available from my Enso Gallery at Fine Art America


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