Apprentice Monks 童僧

Apprentice Monks 童僧

Apprentice Monks
I am not that interested in the traditional Chinese painting of Buddhist and Toaist figures, but I have painted quite a number of little monks after a trip to Myanmar (Burma).
I visited Myanmar in 2001 as part of my plan to paint a series of children in some Asian countries. During my four-week visit there, I was fascinated by the number of apprentice monks I met so often no matter where I went.
Myanmar is a country of Theravada Buddhism. It is customary for every boy to live in a monastery as an apprentice monk, and also for girls to be nuns in some families, for a period of time. The little monks are taught to recite the Buddhist scripts and to beg alms. People there believe it is essential for boys to be trained in this way. When I was at those monasteries, the large number of little monks made me feel as if I was visiting a school. I was told that most schools were closed at that time, with the exception of some particular ones.
After my visit to Myanmar, I painted several pieces of little monks and put them into my 2001-02 series of Asian Children (“The Young Ones”). Then in 2004, I did a whole series of little monks and launched a small show. Some of them, in their red robes, were depicted like huge boulders as I figured that they would be toughened after their tough training. — Fong So

童僧
我對傳統的釋道畫不大感興趣,但卻以童僧為題畫了些題材相近的作品。
那是2001年我旅遊緬甸的收穫,當時我正構思一個繪畫兒童的系列,打算包括亞洲地區幾個不同的國家。那趟在緬甸跑了四個星期,旅途上所見,印象最深刻的是到處都是童僧。
緬甸舉國信奉小乘佛教,到處都見出家人。在寺院裏,更是遍地小和尚,恍如學校。緬甸俗例,男孩都要出過家,當過小沙彌,有些人也讓女孩出家一段日子。小沙彌要學誦經和化緣,訓練刻苦和隱忍。人們認為,這樣的訓練是成長階段必修的一課。當時緬甸很多學校都關閉了,只有部分特殊的學校例外。
旅遊緬甸後,我畫了幾張童僧,收錄在2001-02年的孩童系列(「下一代」)內。之後,在2004年,我畫了一個童僧系列,辦了個小型的展覽,名之為「煉」。其中有幾張,我把身披紅袍的童僧畫得有如大石,想象他們通過修煉,他日可成磐石。 ── 方蘇