The monk Boddhidarma, c 1712.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 25cm x 32cm

The monk Boddhidarma, c 1712.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Woodcut after G King. According to legend the Buddhist monk Boddhidarma (active c 500 AD) tore off his eyebrows in frustration at falling asleep during meditation, and the tea plant sprung up where they had fallen. Boddhidarma is also thought to have founded Zen Buddhism and a system of self-defence on which eastern martial arts are based. From 'Amoenitatum Exoticarum' (often translated as 'Exotic Novelties', published in Germany, 1712), by Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716). Kaempfer travelled in Persia (Iran), India, Siam (Thailand), Java (Indonesia) and Japan. He assembled a large collection, including natural specimens, costumes, books, calendars, and maps. His botanical drawings were later published by the naturalist Joseph Banks (1743-1820).

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