Wabi Sabi

Wabi sabi is a Japanese world view that embraces the imperfections of life.

Over the years, there have been many olden philosophies that have seen resurgence in recent days. Wabi sabi is one such philosophy. It is a Japanese world view that finds beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature. It accepts three simple realities that “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

The term ‘wabi’ roughly translates as ‘simplicity, whether elegant or rustic’, while ‘sabi’ means the beauty of age and wear. While there is no strict definition for wabi sabi, Leonard Koren, author of "Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers," claims "Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental." In simple terms, it can be said that wabi sabi means ‘flawed beauty’.

As a philosophy, wabi sabi dates back to 14th century, when Japanese nobility started putting emphasis on understanding emptiness and imperfection. This was considered as the first step to achieving satori, or enlightenment. Wabi sabi like many other philosophies has been influenced by Buddhist philosophies, especially Zen and Mahayana philosophy.

Wabi sabi makes one appreciate the imperfections and asymmetry that reflects the object’s true nature, its handmade craftsmanship, as opposed to a soul-less perfection that has no character of its own. 

In recent times, wabi sabi has seen a resurrection and gaining quite a following. Wabi sabi is quite popular in art, as well as interior design. In these avenues, one once strived to create flawlessness and perfection; however now one embraces the imperfections and flaws and in fact proudly flaunts them.

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