What is Wabi-sabi

God is at eye level

What is Wabi-sabi?

I became familiar with this term in order to complete this weeks photography class assignment.

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

                                                             ~Leonard Koren

We were given copies of pages from a book, The Artist’s Rule- Nurturing you Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Paintner. As a group we read the brief chapter aloud. Now I must tell you that I consider myself to be fairly well read with a decent size vocabulary, these few pages really tested me. At home later I had to sit with the dictionary to be certain I understood all the words(this is why I really love my Kindle). Further understanding was still desired so I headed to Google. I found an excellent article titled, What is WABI-SABI? Here is an excerpt from that article.

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.

The assignment would be to take a walk with my camera, easy enough to start. Focus on centering myself, close eyes, breath, connect~ you know the drill. Opening my eyes I need to focus on my experience and maintain this during the walk. Not always simple when walking with my energetic dog but I cannot think of leaving her behind. As I walk I am to stay open and present to the places of beauty in ugliness, decay and death.

Participating in this assignment has exposed me to a new term and concept. I was inspired to go looking for beauty in less than the obvious place. As I become better acquainted with the concept I could see how this pertains to life and love of self and others. And as always I was surprised by the beauty that God revealed to me. Below are the photo’s I will share with the class.

Below is a close up of the base of the tree. Obviously is being consumed by insects. Guess you could call this the tree of life.

I was close to home when I saw this stump. I thought it visually interesting.

When I turned from taking the snapshot of the rotted trunk I discovered the most fantastic surprise. Never having noticed this rotted tree from this angle I discovered in its center a heart shaped hole.

I was thrilled with my find. I have been walking past this tree for seven years and never before noticed the beauty in the decay.

11 thoughts on “What is Wabi-sabi

  1. your class sounds fascinating – love these images.
    there is beauty in all stages and phases of life. one of my favourite sunflower images probably falls in this category as well. to see it, simply click on my ‘pix & kardz’ name above. enjoy!


  2. You have captured the essence of wabi very well in your photographs.
    I just love wabi sabi.
    An interesting, and very readable, small book is: wabi-sabi, for artists, designers, poets and philosophers by the very same Leonard Koren.
    A master in applying these principles to interior design is Axel Vervoordt from Belgium, cfr his book WABI, who did some great things in collaboration with a Japanese Architect.


  3. Pingback: Looking back helps to keep forward moving… « The Authentic Me

  4. Pingback: Wabi-Sabi in Piano « The Go Play Project

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