Cover image for The oxherder : a Zen parable illustrated
The oxherder : a Zen parable illustrated
Wada, Stephanie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : George Braziller, [2002]

Physical Description:
85 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BQ9288.K863 W33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A Buddhist parable best known as The Ten Ox Herding Songs, likens a herdsman's search for a missing ox to an individual's journey toward enlightenment and features color artwork taken from its earliest known Japanese handscroll.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Since the ninth century, students of Zen Buddhism have drawn a parallel between the individual path to enlightenment and the story of the herder and his missing ox. There are 10 stages in the parable, beginning with the search for the ox, in which a boy is racked with doubt because "Nothing has been lost in the first place,/ So what is the use of searching?" In the final stage, the boy reappears as the Buddha of the Future, enlightened. The scroll reprinted here is the oldest known version of the Japanese Ten Oxherding Songs, dating to 1278, and the only known example with illustrations in color along with the calligraphy. An introduction by Stephanie Wada, associate curator of the Mary and Jackson Burke foundation (which holds the manuscript) explains, in scholarly terms, both the story and the origins of this scroll and its ten circular drawings (one for each song) and poems. Nothing she writes, however, can have the impact of the eighth part of the parable: with just a wide, empty circle from which both the boy and the ox have vanished, this stage indicates that the attachment to "self" and earthly things has been relinquished. The delicacy and unstudied precision of the calligraphy's brushwork furthers the feeling. Even a Zen novice can appreciate the message of this parable, lovingly inked more than 700 years ago. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved