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Nyoi / Ruyi Scepter


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Over the past 10 years I have wanted to make a sculpture based on the nyoi scepter as found in Chinese and Japanese art (Chinese is ruyi). During that time I considered the form and thematic details. Finally I was inspired to make the form based on a piece of driftwood I found in one of the streams I frequent in the local Vermont mountains 

The nyoi form is appealing to me as it implies a focused attention. Most sources consider that it likely developed from a “talking-stick” which gives the holder the right to speak without being interrupted. Later it was associated with Buddhist bodhisattvas.

 For me, the significance of this nyoi became clearer as it progressed. Initially I saw it only as a portrait of nature with one of my favorite creatures, the Red Eft, in a kind of dream landscape. As the piece developed, the actual life-cycle of the Eft struck me as symbolic of transformation, with him emerging from the passage. The Red Eft is the terrestrial, juvenile stage of the Eastern Newt. It is born in water, migrates to land for five to seven years and then returns to water to mate.

 Somehow it occurred to me that this life-cycle could represent the soul’s transmigration, and furthermore be influenced by blessings sent from the spiritual realm. Hence I thought to introduce this theme with references to the legend of Kikujido

 My carved nyoi has both an ura (private) and omote (public) side connected by an open passage through the wood. The passage is symbolic of the connection between the earth-plane and the spiritual plane. In the Kikujido legend, blessings are sent down-stream on Chrysanthemum petals. I have expanded this to include leaves. On the ura side, carved simply to represent flowing water, is a pristine Chrysanthemum leaf presumably set in motion down-stream by Kikujido. On the omote side, carved in more tangible landscape detail, are the Red Eft, pristine Chrysanthemum petals, a decayed leaf, and a tiny stone. The Red Eft represents the ten-thousand created beings of the earth-plane. The pristine petals represent the blessings abiding in the earth-plane and the decayed leaf represents the ultimate dissolution of all earthly objects. The tiny stone represents the action of time.

 

IMGP9743PSE1web.jpgIMGP9735PSE3web.jpg

 

Edited by Jim Kelso
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I wish I was able to see this in person.  I know that there are many things that I can just not appreciate looking at a picture no matter the quality of the picture.  I love the message and I love the execution even more.  Stunning work Jim; seriously impressive.

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On 5/25/2017 at 9:48 AM, Brian Dougherty said:

I keep looking at this, but don't know what to say.  

Bravo!

Thanks Noah and Brian.

Brian, "Bravo!" works for me!

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Fenomenal carving and sculpting. So satisfying and exiting to see.

Jim, just today I received your book of collected work. I am very happy that you put this together so that I can have some images of your work neatly at easy reach within the covers of a book. It is curious how observing your work can be at once so calming and deeply stirring.
Thank you!!!

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On 5/30/2017 at 3:15 PM, peter johnsson said:

Fenomenal carving and sculpting. So satisfying and exiting to see.

Jim, just today I received your book of collected work. I am very happy that you put this together so that I can have some images of your work neatly at easy reach within the covers of a book. It is curious how observing your work can be at once so calming and deeply stirring.
Thank you!!!

Thanks very much Peter, Karim and Jesus!

Peter, I'm sorry the book took so long to get to you, but glad you like it. Thanks so much!

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And the better photo of ura side:IMGP9805PSEweb.jpg

 

Edited by Jim Kelso
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