Wednesday, August 31, 2005

the Ten Ox-herding Pictures

Joel posts what I originally thought was a Koreanized variant of the famous Ten Ox-herding Pictures, a sequence of drawings symbolizing finding the Way and transcending the self. Joel's pictures come from his trip to Beomeo-sa, a Korean temple. A commenter asked whether Joel had deliberately posted the pictures backward from their original sequence, and I added a comment wondering about why the ox was changing color.

This got me curious, and a quick bit of research revealed that the ten images comprising the Ten Ox-herding Pictures aren't the same for everybody: some sequences depicting the classic story do indeed show a color-changing ox while other versions don't.

Here's a link to the Ten Ox-herding Pictures in which color change doesn't figure. (You have to click the links to go from pic to pic. The intro is here.)

Here's a link to the 10-OHP in which color plays a definite role-- note also that the images are different, which significantly changes the story (or does it?).

Conclusion: Joel's photos depict the ox-herding parable as it's told in some versions. The story as it appears on Beomeo-sa's walls isn't distinctively Korean.


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