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 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
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
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.
Japanese, the inscription is “maruku kokoro de kurashimasho.”
Translated means, 'Let's live fully with all our
Translator John Stevens
|Sweet Cake Enso ~ Ashikaga Shizan (1854-1954) ~ Photo: Robyn Buntin of Honolulu
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'
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
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
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
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!
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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Prints are available of
|SOLD! In the collection of a collecter from Laguna Niguel, CA.
Enso Carmel River Peace
SOLD - Prints are Available
|Enso Sudden Enlightenment 8 x 8 Price: $250
Enso Sudden Enlightenment One
Image: 8 x 8
Media: Sumi (ink) and Japanese
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.
|Sold! In the collection of Shawn & Lindsay Green, Irvine CA.
Sold - Prints
Enso One is the winner of the Parent's Day competition
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'.
|SOLD - To a collector in Southern California
SOLD - Prints are available
Not for Sale - Prints are available
|Enso Sudden Enlightenment
Enso Sudden Enlightenment
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!
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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