WABI-SABI — What the heck is that ?

Some readers may have seen this term before and others may be quite perplexed, wondering just what is this wabi-sabi?

2014-05-02 16_58_33Wabi-sabi is a Japanese expression, that represents a world view centered on our true everyday reality, which is closer to the real life form of objects and life in general, than the artificially perfected shape and form, which is far removed from its natural state.

Wabi-sabi thus acknowledges and accepts beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous (naïve, simple) integrity of natural objects and processes. Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West.

2014-05-02 16_59_21If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi, nurturing all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, and so now I’m going to illustrate the wabi-sabi philosophy more concretely. What you see in the first image is a sculpture of the Indian goddess Saraswati, who represents knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, nature (the same as the Greek goddess Athena, and the Roman goddess Minerva). This statue has the pride of place in my home.

2014-05-02 16_59_38The second image is a close up of an imperfection in the wood the statue is carved out of, which subsequently cracked. The third image is a still closer look at the crack. So, is my statue defective? I vehemently have to say NO; it isn’t defective, it is in fact a perfect example of wabi-sabi art!

Look around you, in your home or office — can you spot any wabi-sabi objects? Next time you go out in nature, look around you — can you try and identify pleasing objects and parts of nature that could qualify as representations of the wabi-sabi philosophy? I’ll bet you’ll have a lot of fun :)!

Have a nice weekend everyone! ‘See’ you all soon!


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