Zen Patterns

Zen Heron

Zen Heron  
Original: Watercolor on Paper (Sold)
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The pattern is a symbol of the plant, not the plant itself. It is an emblem of the bamboo, and yet the living bamboo is there in it. A pattern is a picture of the essence of an object, an object’s very life; its beauty is that of life. . . . A good pattern is pregnant with beauty. The maker of a pattern draws the essence of the thing seen with his own heartbeat, life to life.
    Since pattern is a portrayal of essence, all non-essentials must be stripped away; the pattern is what remains. There is no wordy explanation. There must be the “speech without words” of Zen. Good patterns are simple; if they are cluttered, they are not yet patterns.
    The kind of pattern I am speaking of is not primarily decorative; it comes of Zen emptiness, of mu (“void”), of “thusness.” The more the significance contained in a pattern, the more its vitality. In its placidity there must be movement; it lives in that no-man’s-land where eloquence and silence are one. Without both it dies.

Why should pattern be so beautiful? It provides unlimited scope for the imagination. Pattern does not explain; it leaves things to the viewer; its beauty is determined by freedom it gives to the viewer’s imagination.
    Pattern may be compared to a spring of water that can be drawn on eternally. To provide a source of imagination that never dries up—that, for me, is true beauty. A beautiful pattern is always receptive to the spirit of the viewer. One never tires of looking at it. Through pattern, the world and our hearts are made beautiful. A country without pattern is an ugly country, a country that does not care for beauty. Beauty is the transformation of the world into pattern.
    - Soetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman

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Through pattern, the world and our hearts are made beautiful
It lives in that no-man’s-land where eloquence and silence are one
All non-essentials must be stripped away
Beauty is determined by the freedom it gives to the viewer’s imagination.
    - Roderick MacIver