Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Wabi-sabi is hard to define. The Japanese love ambiguity and believe that no deep understanding can come with the spoken word. Zen beliefs are also not easily explained with words and wabi-sabi emerged from Zen tenets. To explain them with words would diminish them. Zen led to the birth of the tea ceremony and wabi-sabi grew out of the tea ceremony.

image found at here.

Therefore, both Zen and wabi-sabi maintain a mysterious, elusive quality. The fullest explanation is that they are a way of life, with an appreciation of a particular type of beauty or aesthetic.

image by nikola - n k l s at Flickr site here.

Wabi-sabi is an appreciation of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of
things modest, humble and unconventional.

image found at here.

All things are impermanent. All things are imperfect. All things are incomplete.

Things are either devolving toward or evolving from NOTHINGNESS. Nothingness does not have the same meaning as in Western cultures. Zen followers see new things or life emerge out of 'nothingness'.

India Flint's eco-dyed bundle waiting to be opened. blog here.

Nothingness is alive with possibilities.

image by Game Texture Images here.

Accept the inevitable... life is fleeting and transient.... impermanent. That is why Zen teaches one to live in the moment... focus on the intrinsic small details... and get rid of the unnecessary.

That is why Zen and wabi-sabi are so tied to nature. Truth comes from observing nature.

To be alone
It is of a color that
Cannot be named:
This mountain where cedars rise
Into the autumn dusk.
-- 12th century poet, Jakuren

Mineo Mizuno, moss on ceramic
There is a melancholy associated with the cycle of impermanence.. the transience of life and death. Everything is in flux, and one is invited to abandon yourself to the unrivaled beauty and natural imperfection of the fleeting world.

image by Veronika Studer at Flickr here.

Wabi is a way of life, with inward philosophical thinking. Sabi refers to the material objects, which convey the Wabi way of thinking. Words for wabi-sabi include: warm, dark, personal,
organic, ambiguous, seasonal, life and death, earthy, present (in the moment), decayed....

Charles Austin, teapot, image from Butters Gallery link here.

... weathered, rusty, rough, non-fnctional, irregular, not symmetrical....

Simplicity and focus on minimal details and subdued colors are very central to wabi-sabi.

An organic feel with little or no defined design is preferred. Objects are functional rather than decorative, with a naturalness and ease of use.

Dark, muted, subdued and limited colors are preferred. Rough edges are revered.

image by blackwood (no real name given), Flickr site here.

All that is uncared for.
Left alone in the stillness
in that pure silence married
to the stillness of nature.
--- Linda Gregg