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The Gateless Gate in Chinese / Japanese...

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The Gateless Gate

 wú mén guān
 mu mon kan
The Gateless Gate Scroll

無門關 is the ancient title for “The Gateless Barrier.” This has both direct meaning and is the title of a 13th-century collection of koans, compiled by a Chinese Chan Master known as Wumen in China (known in Japan as Zen Master Mumon).

While this is the original title, you may see this written as 無門関 in Japan, where the last character, 關, was simplified to 関 after 1945.

Mumonkan / The Gateless Gate

 mu mon kan
Mumonkan / The Gateless Gate Scroll

無門関 is the specifically Japanese title for “The Gateless Barrier.” This has both direct meaning and is the title of a 13th-century collection of koans, compiled by Zen Master Mumon (actually a Chinese Chan Master known as Wumen in China).

The original title is 無門關, but the last Kanji was simplified to 関 in modern Japan.

The Great Path has No Gate

 dà dào wú mén
 dai dou mu mon
The Great Path has No Gate Scroll

大道無門 is a Buddhist proverb that means “The Great Way has no entrance,” “The Great Way is gateless,” or “The Great Path lacks a gate.”

This can be translated in many other ways.

This concept was authored within a long sacred text by 無門慧開 (known as Wúmén Huìkāi in Chinese or Mumon Ekai in Japanese). He was a Chinese Chan Master (in Japanese, a Zen Master) who lived between 1183 and 1260 AD. His most famous work was a 48-koan collection titled “The Gateless Barrier” or “The Gateless Gate” (無門關 Wú Mén Guān in Chinese, or 無門関 Mu Mon Kan in Japanese). This calligraphy title is a notable line from this collection.

I like this reference to the source of this proverb: The Gateless Gate 無門關

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If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese

Simple Dictionary Definition


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More info & calligraphy:

Mumonkan / The Gateless Gate
(work) The Gateless Barrier (13th century collection of koans, compiled by Chinese monk Wumen); The Gateless Gate; (wk) The Gateless Barrier (13th century collection of koans, compiled by Chinese monk Wumen); The Gateless Gate

The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
The Gateless Gate無門關
mu mon kan / mumonkanwú mén guān
wu2 men2 guan1
wu men guan
wu men kuan
The Gateless Gate
無門関mu mon kan / mumonkan
The Great Path has No Gate大道無門
dai dou mu mon
dai do mu mon
dà dào wú mén
da4 dao4 wu2 men2
da dao wu men
ta tao wu men
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.

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The Great Path has No Gate Scroll
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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.

Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

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