Allegories in Architecture: The Ancient Cistern

Part I: The Spider’s ThreadIn 1938, Ryunosuke Akutagawa wrote a short story for a Japanese children’s magazine called Kumo no Ito, or The Spider’s Thread. In this story, the Buddha Shakyamuni was strolling alone alongside a lotus pond in Paradise. Between two lotus leaves and through crystal clear celestial water, the Buddha peered into hell. Among the suffering he observed a man by the name Kandata, whose sole good deed in life was sparing the life of a spider while walking through the woods. Touched by this act of compassion, the Buddha lowered a string of silver thread, taken from a spider in Paradise, to save Kandata from damnation. Kandata, overjoyed by the thought of not having to drown in the Lake of Blood at the bottom of hell or chased up the mountain of Needles again, began climbing the thread to Paradise. When the shadows of hell began to fade and the light of Paradise was visible, he looked down at the other sinners. Terrified by the assembly of people climbing the thread, Kandata feared it may break under their weight – and began yelling, kicking, and screaming – telling them this fate belonged to him and him alone. At that moment, the thread broke, and Kandata was flung back into the lake of blood with the rest of the sinners. The Buddha shook his head in disappointment, and continued his morning stroll along the banks of the lotus pond. Even an eternity of punishment, he thought, could not instill an ounce of compassion in the man.For those of you who have played through Skyward Sword, the parallels between The Spider’s Thread and the design of the Ancient Cistern are easy to identify. Many of the story’s elements manifest themselves physically – such as the pond full of lotuses bordering the meditating Buddha Idol and the white thread descending into a lake of bones and cursed Bokoblins – but other aspects of the story, and Buddhism itself, are worked into the active process of moving from room to room. The recreation of this story relies on both physical placement and progression as methods of storytelling, with no direct verbal references to The Spider’s Thread explaining their connection. The dungeon is designed to tell this story in two ways – through Link and the Idol, and the story begins to unfold as soon as you enter the Ancient Ciste

via Allegories in Architecture: The Ancient Cistern.

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