Wabi Sabi

The ancient Japanese concept of the imperfection of the brush stroke, Wabi-sabi (侘寂?) represents a comprehensive Japanese worldview or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering (dukkha) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (sunyata).


The ancient Japanese art form that honors all things old, worn, weathered, imperfect and impermanent. In fact, it seeks to find “beauty and perfection in the imperfections.”

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. You see this in Japanese pottery and many other art forms. They were rebelling at the time against the Chinese art of over the top formalism, embellishments, with gold, red and too much decorativeness.

By: Enzo Ito

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