Scorching The Bamboo – Wabi Sabi

Scorching the bamboo with a flame darkens the bamboo and can add greatly to its
visual appeal.

In a purist and very Japanese view of wabi sabi, the whole ethos is based on humility toward one’s own life and the world at large.

It is nearly impossible to clearly define wabi and sabi. Maybe one could say that it is living unselfishly with our fellow men without desire for profit, resisting ideas of self-importance or status, and humbly accepting our position in life.”

there are no hard-and-fast rules on what is and what isn’t wabi sabi. If something evokes feelings of an intangible yearning, then that something has wabi sabi for the person concerned

materials that occur naturally – subdued colors, propensity to physically change with the passing of time. Nearly all wabi sabi expressions require an element of the organic, as without it there is no feel of time and no sense of impermanence.

The struggle of the tree to overcomethe relentless forces of the environment can be found in its every fiber. Its fight for life, staged over the centuries, is clear in the grains
and the knots, in the branches that have striven to catch the energy from the sun and the roots that have sought food and stability in the soil. There are trees with gnarly barks and unique shapes that represent some of nature’s most engaging sculptures, for they are the perfection of imperfection.

The iron kettle used in the tea ceremony is an example of the way in which the beauty of metal’s impermanence is highlighted and prized. With the passing of the years the slow corrosion on the metal’s surface will become more pronounced, as will the vast array of subtle hues within the surface. The range of colors this produces and the resultant pitting of the surface epitomize wabi sabi. It is the very slow unforced change of color that is sought, and this is a process that cannot be hurried.

Metal on its own can be a little harsh and lacks intimacy, but it has
a natural affinity with wood. Wood is far easier to work three dimensionally,
and the two textures offer a great many combinations

In the West there was, until more recently, the prevalence of the idea that paper was a medium for the recording of information or as a base for other types of artistic expression. In the East, however, there has been a long held reverence for the intrinsic beauty of handmade papers, made as they are from a huge variety of natural ingredients in a wide variety of styles. In 1928 there were no less than 28,532 Japanese families involved in the business of traditional paper making who supplied the huge demand for decorative and architectural purposes.

When our impermanence highlights the absolute irrelevance of material gain and when we can see our lives with a sense of humility and equanimity, then we are ready to see the beauty that lies within the subtleties.

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