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The Difference between Wabi and Sabi

Both wabi and sabi are famous Japanese aesthetic terms, and are often used together. Both terms share the meaning of “fading and withering away”. However sabi also has a literal meaning of “rust” or “tarnish” on a metal. Therefore sabi has a sense of the antiquarian affection for old things.

On the other hand Japanese people find the aesthetics of wabi even in new materials and inexpensive products, because wabi sometimes means simplicity. The famous tea master Sen no Rikyu pursued the aesthetics of wabi, and he created a style of bamboo vase and of simple hand-made pottery known as raku tea bowls.

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