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Illustration Friday – Empty

August 10th, 2005


This week’s Illustration Friday theme is Emptiness.
The inspiration for my project comes from the story of the Zen matriarch Chiyono.
As the legend goes, she had been seeking enlightenment for years, but it had eluded her, no matter how hard she studied and how diligently she practiced.
One night, she was carrying water in a very old bamboo bucket and noticed the reflection of the moon in the water. As she gazed at it, suddenly the bamboo band that held the bucket together fell apart. In that moment there was no bucket, no water and no moon, and she became enlightened. She wrote a verse about it and this is the popular translation:

“In this way and that I tried to keep the pail together.
I hoped the weak bamboo would never break.
Then suddenly the bottom fell out.
No more water; no more moon in the water.
Emptiness in my hand.”

7 Comments

  1. What a wonderful illustration! I like the story that inspired it.

    Comment by Aravis — August 11, 2005 @ 12:52 am
  2. that’s very beautiful, Karen, the shades, the blue… and the story….

    Comment by victorie — August 11, 2005 @ 1:03 am
  3. what a nice story that goes perfectly well with your illo! i was especially taunted by the last lines… “..No more water; no more moon in the water. Emptiness in my hand.”

    Comment by velvet — August 11, 2005 @ 11:18 am
  4. I love this piece, Karen–how you used the monochromatic color scheme,
    the way the light shimmers in the bucket with the moon reflected in it. I love
    what you chose to draw. You could have drawn the whole woman, but I
    love just the hand, the bucket and the moon, which of course disappear in
    the end. Really beautiful work.

    Comment by Michele — August 11, 2005 @ 6:19 pm
  5. I love Illu Fridays with a story attached :)
    This is a beautiful illustration and a great story.
    Thanks.

    Comment by elaine — August 12, 2005 @ 1:57 am
  6. beautiful! i can’t say much more :)

    Comment by erika — August 12, 2005 @ 7:27 am
  7. Funny you should call upon a Zen story. I was just rolling over in my mind how the Japanese/Chinese character for “empty” is also the character for “sky”.

    Comment by Miyuki — August 12, 2005 @ 8:12 am

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