Wabi Sabi

November 23, 2009

Part of the Japanese reverence of nature and its temporal, fleeting beauty led to the refinement within Zen philosophy of categorizing several qualities. Yugen, or "the eerie and hidden" is often represented by fog or mist. Wabi is the name for things "forlorn and lonely"- represented by moss, weeds, etc. Shibui is the "simple and dull" found in dirt and shadows. Last is Sabi, reverence for "the old and worn out" and depicted by the elderly and dead plants. 

 

I learned of all of this long after being drawn to subjects found in this realm of wabi sabi but had no idea I was on a path of long tradition. My reverence came out of the stories that are there- in this case the side of a ship and how every scrape, scratch, rub mark, or rust stain tells the history of a ship's life. But it is just as beautiful as it is storied. The above Zen terms are from Investigating Philosophy by Henry L. Ruf Professor of Philosophy WVU.

 

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