Who is Red Beard?
Our business name and logo, “Red Beard” refers to a historical figure, Bodhidharma, who travelled from the northern part of India to China and established the Zen school of Buddhism there in the 5th Century. He was said to have piercing blue eyes and a red beard and many legends and iconography have developed around him since that time. According to legend, he spent 9 years in solitary meditation in a cave at Shaolin Temple after his initial attempts to spread Buddhist teaching fell on deaf ears. Legend also credits him as the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu. In modern day China, Korea, and Japan, images of Red Beard are often used as symbols of blessing, strength, or good luck. In Japan, he is often invoked at New Year’s time with papier-mâché dolls symbolizing good fortune.
Red Beard is a frequent theme in Zen artwork. Zen portrayals of him are often rather serious, conveying the fierce strength, determination, and concentration needed for him to successfully plant his teaching in China. Our logo itself is derived from an ink painting brushed by the famous 19th Century Zen master Yamaoka Tesshu. Alex has a special connection to Red Beard both from his time living in Japan as an adolescent, and later as an earnest student of Zen. By choosing Red Beard as our business namesake, we honor the deep commitment to mind-body-spiritual study represented by Bodhidharma and artist Yamaoka Tesshu and endeavor to bring a similar depth, energy, and intention into our work.