Monday, June 6, 2016

Wabi Sabi Hare

Collage by Donna Watson

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in imperfection,  incompleteness and impermanence.  It is a beauty of things modest and humble.  It is a beauty of things rustic, simple, organic, worn, weathered... things affected by the passage of time.  It is also about the cycle of life and our connection to nature.  It is an appreciation of nature and all life.  This is how I view the rabbit.  A quiet, still, silent, gentle, harmless (unless you have a vegetable garden) creature.

THE HARE WITH THE AMBER EYES is written by Edmund De Waal, a world famous ceramist working in Porcelain.  He inherited a collection of 264 tiny netsuke.  He wanted to know and understand who had collected them and how they had survived World War II.  The book is a moving 
memoir and detective story as he discovers the history of the netsuke and his family over 5 generations.  The writing is artful, detailed, exquisite... beautifully written memoir... and deeply moving.  He writes not just about the netsuke, but about the art and culture in each generation.

Here is the famous netsuke, THE HARE WITH THE AMBER EYES
Netsuke are miniature sculptures first created in 17th century Japan to serve a practical purpose.
Robes, like kimono, had no pockets.  Men who wore them needed a place to store their belongings like money, medicine, or pipes.  They used a container (sagemono) hung by cords from the robe's sashes (obi).  This box (inro) was held shut by ojime, small carved objects or animals.  The fastener that secured the chord at the top of the sash was a carved, button like toggle called netsuke.

Over time, Netsuke evolved from being utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and superb craftmanship, highly respected and collected.

It is the quieter side of life that inspires me, with the feelings that come with my connection to the natural world.  My love of rabbits is part of my connection to nature.

This is a rabbit temple in the heart of Kyoto.  I was very happy to find it.

Artist Unknown

Artist W. Tucker,  RABBIT GIRL,  website:

As you see above, artists today depict rabbits and hares in many mediums and forms.  

photo image by Donna Watson

The above image includes one of my ceramic rabbits, and 2 mail art envelopes I created.

photo image by Donna Watson

photo image by Donna Watson

Mono no aware refers to a feeling of life's fragility, and relates to seeing beauty in this fragile, impermanent nature, and even grasping that without permanence, genuine beauty can not exist.


George said...

Love this post, Donna. I'm philosophically aligned with a lot of Japanese thought, especially wabi-sabi and Zen. Also love your new website. Your artwork is sensational. It always makes me want to see not only deeper, but longer. In short, I think your works constantly invite meditation.

Sue Marrazzo said...

so so beautiful

Barry said...

Hi D - and amazing story - I never knew the background. Thanks. B

Caterina Giglio said...

Knowing your penchant for rabbits, I always think of you... when I moved here to Florida, I found we had resident rabbits, and smiled thinking it was a very good omen... I adore that last image, the ceramic rabbit, just beautiful...

Connie Rose said...

Wonderful post, Donna. Thanks for the background on netsuke, I've always wondered about it. Also for the book recommendation -- I've requested it from the library. Hope you've been well. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful pice of art you created. I love it. I also did not know where the netsuke came from or what they were used for. Thanks.

ELFI said...

la nature et le lapin à l'honneur ..avec justesse et précision...magnifique!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

I love the way "small things" can form a running thread between the past and present. Your rabbit envelopes are to be cherished.

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