Oxherding

The New York painter Max Gimblett and I are making a modern American version of the Sung Dynasty Chinese Oxherding Series, a set of drawings and poems that are a parable about Buddhist practice. A good example of the traditional drawings are those done by Shubun in the fifteenth century, now preserved at Shokoku Temple, Kyoto, Japan.

We hope to publish a book consisting of my translation of the Oxherding texts, an essay about the series, and Gimblett's new sumi ink versions of the drawings.

Each Oxherding text will appear in three different English versions: a "one word ox" which sticks slavishly to the Chinese (one word per character), a "spare sense ox," which puts each Chinese syntactic unit into a simple English sentence, and an "American ox" (or "fat American ox") which takes considerable liberties while trying to be faithful to my intuitions about the meaning of the series.

Lewis Hyde's translations:

Four of Max Gimblett's drawings

Searching for the Ox

I: Searching for the Ox
Seeing the Traces

II: Seeing the Traces
A Glimpse of the Ox

III: A Glimpse of the Ox
Catching the Ox

IV: Catching the Ox

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