Thursday, January 21, 2010

Miyamoto Musashi Sumi-e Scroll

 This work reminds me of a beautiful story about 宮本武蔵Miyamoto Musashi, who many martial arts experts consider the most deadly swordsman of all time. If you would like to order a custom scroll there are three ways to get started: 1. Go to my shopping site at 2. Download my scroll design workbook from my website at to read about the concepts behind kakejiku or wallscroll design. 3. E-mail to me directly at                                 During his life, a feud brewed between two Samurai. One was Sasaki Kojiro and the other was Miyamoto Musashi. An isolated island was decided upon as the place for a sword duel, between these two warriors. Sasaki was famous for his use of an extra-ordinarily long katana. It is said in legend that his training was completed after he learned to kill a swift swallow mid-flight by this sword. Musashi on the other hand gained his reputation by defeating the entire founding family of a fencing school, and when outnumbered would utilize a fighting style with two swords.

As the duel date approached, Musashi climbed in a boat seemingly unarmed. He rowed to the island and the people who had gathered to witness the duel were still amazed to find him unarmed. Every day Musashi would get up early and sit on the beach from different positions as the sun would rise. Finally still unarmed on the day of the battle Musashi arose early and positioned himself on the beach with only the oar in hand as his weapon. Sasaki, quite confident, thought he could easily dispatch this enemy. Musashi waited for several minutes and at an exact moment that only he knew, rushed for the attack. As Sasaki prepared his sword, the light of the sun flashed off the blade into his eyes, momentarily blinding him. Defenseless, Musashi struck Sasaki with one blow to the top of the head with the long oar and killed him.

So why am I telling you this story, because when I saw this picture this story was the first thing to come to mind; Musashi meditating on the beach and planning in his mind the angle of the sun and the time of attack. I used this inspiration to think of clear sky on a beach, and used this sky patterned cloth to evoke the peaceful images and painstaking planning in which Musashi used to stake his life in a duel. So although, there is peace to the work, it forebodes a more terrible moment in history yet to come.

You can read more about Musashi’s Martial Art philosophy and life by reading The Book of Five Rings. It has been translated several times by different individuals. In addition to being a great warrior, he was also a poet, calligrapher and artist.

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