Wabi-sabi

By Anastasia Wass

When I was a child, my mother had a Japanese clay cup. She and my father were the only ones who drank from it, as my siblings and I thought the cup was ugly. It wasn’t ugly, she explained many times. It was Wabi-sabi. It was beautiful because it was imperfect, the clay slightly dented and the glaze visibly dripping. These imperfections were where the true beauty of the piece lay. I had quite forgotten about this cup until I read about the concept of Wabi-sabi again, just a few weeks ago. The author described Wabi-sabi as a unique Japanese idea, a word that described the beauty in the everyday and the mundane, the imperfect. Only then did I recall the mug that still sat in my kitchen cabinet. And only the other day did I take out the mug to look at it again.

Now that I’m older, I feel as though I can better appreciate the Wabi-sabi of the mug. While the traditional American idea of beauty, flawless perfection and symmetry, differs greatly from what I see in the mug, I see a different kind of beauty. It’s the same beauty that is found in nature, in a flower or a sunset. Nature is imperfect, but beautiful nonetheless. If I extend the idea of nature as beautiful to the mug in my kitchen, I think I come to a better understanding of how Wabi-sabi is beautiful.

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