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Swirling inky clouds and water in Shodō calligraphy

At our online Shodō calligraphy group (monthly on zoom) we brushed the elemental zen word Unsui 雲水, literally meaning clouds and water, and more specifically meaning novice zen monks and nuns (it is shortened from going clouds-flowing waters), coming from a Chinese poem ‘to drift like clouds and flow like water’. Blair discussed this and how it can signify any practitioner moving with ease through life without being bothered by obstacles and attachments. Also it can mean zen practitioners moving from one teacher to another, deepening or challenging their practice.

Swirling inky clouds and water in Shodō calligraphy

After some mark making to loosen up and then stroke practice, we brushed the two kanji characters together in two styles (kaisho and sōsho), finding balance in a few different possibilities and techniques. We explored the overall shapes and centre lines in each kanji and how to brush them together.

Swirling inky clouds and water in Shodō calligraphy

Here is a fascinating poem Blair read, by Master Dogen (translation by Heine) , which reminded him of the unsui meanings as well as the actual Shodō strokes like the bow –

Dispersed, as today’s
Spring light fades
Yet stays held taught,
Like a catalpa bow:
My travels are never ending

Master Dogen

Thanks to everyone for taking part and those who shared work 😀