Sunday, June 1, 2008
Wabi-sabi (in Kanji: 侘寂) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The phrase comes from the two words wabi and sabi. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" (according to Leonard Koren in his book Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers). It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the Three marks of existence — Anicca, or in Japanese, 三法印 (sanbōin)), Impermanence. Note also that the Japanese word for rust, 錆 is also pronounced sabi (the borrowed Chinese character is different, but the word itself is of assumed common etymology), and there is an obvious semantic connection between these concepts. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and suggest a natural process.