WORKSHOP & COURSES

Suminagashi

 
History and current affairs

Suminagashi is an ancient Japanese art: the art of painting on water.

 

Its origin dates back to around the year 1000 and was created as a technique for decorating paper by contact, using ink (sumi) that floats (nagashi) on water. Through the ink traces, abstract designs are formed, which are then transferred to a sheet of washi paper lying on the surface of the water itself. The uniqueness of each print is the main characteristic of the technique. 

For years it was jealously guarded at the emperor's court and used for divinatory purposes, it was believed that, through the signs of ink diluted in water, one could read the future.

 

There is also a legend in Shinto culture that says that Suminagashi was a gift from a god to mankind, although evidence suggests that it was created by the intuition of a calligrapher. Over the centuries it has been both a decorative technique and a background for paintings, calligraphy and prints. Moreover, because it cannot be reproduced, it is used as a paper support for official documents. It later became a method of active meditation for Zen monks, as the movement of the water led to a state of mind of relaxation and well-being that helped create inner peace and concentration, instilling a sense of pure connection with the world.

Today in Japan, the Suminagashi technique is mostly used for the reproduction of kimono fabrics. Its design is based on a philosophy of dyeing with a pictorial eye, producing unique garments that can never be duplicated exactly the same. 

For the Japanese, the word Suminagashi evokes the traditional image of paper, which is given a spiritual value, while the kimono is given a vision that finds new spaces “with unobstructed eyes”.

 

Today, the practice is considered not only an art form but also a creative process that leads to the search for one’s inner self. Through the drawings floating on the water it is possible to reach a complete state of relaxation and well-being, the silence and slow gestures create a strong bond with the inner world, facilitating the transition to reflection on oneself. The result is an unexpected and unprecedented work, where in the veil of water we can identify the soul that guides us.

The essence of Suminagashi lies precisely in its revealing images, where the final drawing is transformed into a painting that expresses the emotions of the person, offering a further indication that brings to light new awareness.

Painting on the surface of the water and matching its movements becomes a pure exercise in wu wei, the Taoist precept of acting without forcing, following the flow, in harmony with nature. 

Using the communicative power of images, without any words, we can communicate with ourselves at a higher level that is profound and effective. Suminagashi thus assumes the role of a real mirror of the soul.


From an intellectual game to a decorative technique to a meditation practice.

EXPERIENTIAL WORKSHOP

Preparation, Execution and Interpretation:​

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EXPERIENTIAL WORKSHOP

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