群盲象を撫ず (Elephant Fable)

Designer: Hanabusa Itcho | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Yasue Tsushima

Size: 11cm by 15cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [HC] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 40.00£ 32.25€ 36.75

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Description: In my small collection of prints and books is a colour woodblock album made in the Meiji-period, containing reproductions of works by Hanabusa Itcho, who lived in the late 17th to early 18th century. When he drew this particular scene, he was reaching quite a long way back into the past. This well-known fable apparently had its beginning in early Buddhist writings more than 2,200 years ago, and by some 1,000 years after that had spread to the west and the far east.

I’m sure you know the basic story - the group of blind men inspect an elephant and then report their wildly varying impressions: “It’s like a rope! It’s like a tree! ...” I suppose if we don’t give it much thought, the story does seem like a simplistic view of how easy it is to ‘fool’ somebody who can’t see as well as we can. But of course, the story isn’t about blind people at all; it’s about you and me. About how any of us, no matter how broad-minded we might think we are, frequently fail to see things as other people see them, and fail to recognize that another way of doing things may have equal validity with our own. And now, more than 2,000 years after the story was first told, our newspapers every day show us the results of our failure to understand it.

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