Wabi Sabi the abode of emptiness

Wabi Sabi the abode of emptiness
Wabi Sabi the abode of emptiness ph credits Stefania Giorgi

Wabi Sabi the abode of emptiness.

Wabi Sabi as a lifestyle choice means giving value to concepts such as: Time, Emptiness, Contemplation; Wabi Sabi could be defined as a living meditation, which crosses through the moments of the day with the power of listening, and an aesthetic sensitivity to read the beauty that is hidden in the folds of everyday life. A beauty that is difficult to trace and recognize.

Wabi Sabi is a style, but it is also a philosophy. There are no limits that separate the physical plane from the plane of thought, action or meditation. Things flow naturally, from one realm to another. In this elusive way of living, there is time and the possibility, to be more than one thing in the same moment.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese word, etymologically composed of the terms wabi  poverty, simplicity and sabi , which indicates the beauty that arises from the passage of time. In kanji, it is written 侘寂 and it is a difficult concept to translate into English and impossible to grasp literally.

The concept of Wabi Sabi was historically born as a reaction to a rich and ephemeral lifestyle, in which even the aesthetics of the objects associated with the original tea ceremony, were left redundant and had become excessively sumptuous. In the 16th Century, when the master Sen no Rikyū (1522-1591) reforms the tea ceremony, which is called cha no yu (which means “hot water for tea”) – in Japanese 茶の湯  or also 茶道 (sadō) – as we know it today, he introduces the concept of Wabi Sabi, to create an environment more suited to meditation, marked by sobriety. The ceramics change in favor of elegant but essential shapes, with the clay or stoneware left to have its own space with which to resonate. The cup is a meditation in itself.

Wabi Sabi represents the possibility of being, it’s our essence. In the tea ceremony room, “the abode of emptiness” all men are equal. The noise of thoughts is left out and the no-mind, the mu-shin   (無心, no-mind) is experienced.

So Wabi Sabi is closely related to tea ceremony pottery, which forms one of the spiritual paths of Zen Buddhism.

On one hand, we have an aesthetic, whose codes are asymmetry, materiality, the letting go of rigidity to reflect vitality, the vital element and dusty colours. On the other, we have a philosophy which is a lifestyle, centered on the ability to see beauty in imperfection and incompleteness, as it is, in the passage of time, in impermanence.

The Master ceramist’s creation embodies these values, which are part of a wider vision. Thus Zen in Wabi Sabi, has the ability to unite the different levels of existence, and to bring beauty, meditation and the spiritual, into every moment and action of life.  Every daily act becomes sacred, precisely because of the ability to see its value, as one can bring meditation of not mind, even to the cup of tea.

In the West, Wabi Sabi has a more psychological underpinning, sometimes purely aesthetic, sometimes philosophical, but the concept was originally born as a whole, and its strength dwells precisely in its integral and living vision.

Emptiness is the foundation of Wabi Sabi, as it allows for contemplation, inspiration, meditation, inaction and mindlessness, but it also prepares for action, or whatever comes next.

The living is in itself asymmetrical and perfectly imperfect. An elegant beauty, free in expression, bringing peace to those who observe it, providing comfort to the soul.

In the Zen void, Being and Meaning are experienced. You don’t need to do anything, you don’t observe thoughts, it’s the point of arrival, like flying above the clouds.

Wabi Sabi is all of these things together.
The love of freedom lives in asymmetry.







Hi, I’m Manuela, urban potter and Italian artist who’s passionate about exploring the expressive potential of clay. With a love for Wabi Sabi aesthetics and the beauty of imperfection, I create bespoke ceramics, paintings, and fine art photography. My studio, nestled in the charming city of Milan, is a magical box where creativity runs wild and beauty is abundant. Whether you’re looking to bring a touch of magic into your everyday life, or simply to explore your creative side through art therapy I’m here to inspire and encourage you on your journey. I bring art into the world and celebrate the beauty in every moment. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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