Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
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Developed out of the aesthetic philosophy of cha-no-yu (the tea ceremony) in fifteenth-century Japan, wabi sabi is an aesthetic that finds beauty in things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Taken from the Japanese words wabi, which translates to less is more, and sabi, which means attentive melancholy, wabi sabi refers to an awareness of the transient nature of earthly things and a corresponding pleasure in the things that bear the mark of this impermanence. As much a state of mind—an awareness of the things around us and an acceptance of our surroundings—as it is a design style, wabi sabi begs us to appreciate the simple beauty in life—a chipped vase, a quiet rainy day, the impermanence of all things. Presenting itself as an alternative to today's fast-paced, mass-produced, neon-lighted world, wabi sabi reminds us to slow down and take comfort in the simple, natural beauty around us.
In addition to presenting the philosophy of wabi-sabi, this book includes how-to design advice—so that a transformation of body, mind, and home can emerge.
- History: The Development of Wabi Sabi
- Culture: Wabi Sabi and the Japanese Character
- Art: Defining Aesthetics
- Design: Creating Expressions with Wabi Sabi Materials
- Spirit: The Universal Spirit of Wabi Sabi
garden, and in many homes the custom of an alcove with a scroll and flower arrangement is still commonplace. While the Japanese embrace new ideas, there is still a lasting reverence for the simple and natural beauty embodied in wabi sabi. It is sometimes difficult to see how the Japanese live comfortably with their seemingly irreconcilable contradictions of style. Yet throughout its history Japan has been a land of incredible paradoxes, and one wonders whether the Japanese ability to live with
introduced into the styles of the ceramics produced. So while there was still a huge following for the finer, more elegant pieces of Ming porcelain, interest in the more rustic pottery was on the increase. The new pots were rarely decorated; instead, the uneven texture of the ash glazes was preferred. The ornate ceramics from China that were so prized by the court and the wealthy ruling classes were considered too ostentatious by the Zen masters and became less and less attractive to Japanese
to this art form, which seems to provide a perfect harmony between the hand of the craftsman and the hand of nature. In such pieces of pottery can be found some wonderful wabi sabi nuances, and it is this visual and tactile appeal of pottery that has made it such an important part of the tea ceremony. During the tea ceremony, guests are invited to handle and appraise the utensils. This is an integral part of the whole experience; one where the guests have a chance to admire bowls that have been
After hitting the center of the target with the lights on, he then went on to split the first arrow with the lights turned off. Instead of taking any credit for this rationally impossible feat he just humbly explained that “It did it.” The master aimed to teach Herrigel humility and to be indifferent to the final outcome of the shot. Whether he hit the bull’s-eye or missed the target there had to be complete equanimity, for it was not in fact Herrigel that was loosing the shot but the unspoken
market economy, the farmers have invested great efforts to meet the huge rise in demand for organic produce. Here, inspired largely by the media, we see a huge swing toward a more healthy way of eating and a more natural process for farming—and all this happened in the free market as people have become more concerned about the safety of the food they are eating. If, in the same way, people’s demands for more organic and environmental products increase, then the impact could only be beneficial