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28-01-2009
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Miyabi
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28-01-2009
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28-01-2009
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Very beautiful.
I can tell I'll be a regular viewer of this thread.. I always admired this Japanese aesthetic but I didn't even know there was a specific word for it, I feel like Ando Tadao projects this quite accurately, combining elegance and serenity on such a perfect dose.

thanks for the introduction, runner.

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Last edited by MulletProof; 28-01-2009 at 02:35 AM.
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28-01-2009
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It seems like there are various Japanese aesthetics
Changing throughout the times,... like fashion.

I read on wikipedia Miyabi is to separate the high class from lower classes,
that high class can only appreciate such works...
In a way it sounds like haute couture. You have to be accepted in to the group. Even a client/customer has to be accepted. To be able to appreciate those works...

Here's a piece from the site
Quote:
Because the believe was often mixed with a sense of mono no aware, or a sorrow seen in all things, It was thought that things in decline showed a great sense of miyabi. An example of this would be one of a lone cherry tree. The tree would soon lose its flowers and would be stripped of everything that made it beautiful and so it showed not only mono no aware, but also miyabi in the process.
runner I think you wrote about miyabi in Yohji Yamamoto's S/S 09 collection?
the austere black, with delicate white hands

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31-01-2009
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you're welcome Mullet



gius, I think what you are referring to as "changing...fashion" is fueki-ryukou.
about that, I wrote some things in japanese avant-garde thread, if you are interested.
http://www.thefashionspot.com/forums...&postcount=256

and no, I was not talking about miyabi in the yohji thread.
I'll elaborate on that later.

so I tried reading that wikipedia explanation.
first of all, miyabi is not "to separate the high class from lower classes".
in those days you didn't have to separate them all the way with miyabi because they were two separate things. miyabi is not any means.
the attitude that you stop and notice the slightest beauty that tends to be easily overlooked and be buried in the bustle of daily life and enjoy it to the full,
this attitude could lead to miyabi or be even referred to as miyabi itself.
and in that era only the privileged classes could lead a life of elegant ease while the common people could not afford to worry enough about that kind of thing.
naturally it developed as the court prospered. and court culture pursued it.
so things about court culture were described as miyabi at an early stage.
actually some of the pics posted above are of the kyoto imperial palace.
then, things that are elegant and refined in a courtly way.
and now it is widely used for things that is elegant and beautiful and sometimes gorgeous in a traditional way.


since the idea is abstract, I guess it's not easy to understand unless you actually hear the word being used in a concrete context.
this confection called yokan represents the arrival of spring.
plum blossoms come out in early spring.
there were two plum trees in their full glory,
one with red blossoms, the other with white blossoms,
they were facing each other across a bridge.
and it is traditionally thought that red and white together is an auspicious combo.
someone noticed the sight and found it beautiful.
and all of this was put into that seasonal yokan when it didn't have to be so elaborated practically. (yokan is black or dark brown normally)
so I would say I feel miyabi about the yokan.



normal yokan




also this cake is another example of miyabi in my eyes.
it stands for the dawn.
the sun appearing from behind the clouds.
I wouldn't say there was miyabi about it, if it were not for the red there.
so miyabi can also be softly flamboyant in comparison with other aesthetics.
(if I understand the adjective flamboyant rightly. the abstract ideas are hard to understand accurately, when you don't know the enviroment where they are used.)



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31-01-2009
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this is what is written there, btw



Quote:

Miyabi (雅) is one of the traditional Japanese aesthetic ideals, though not as prevalent as Iki or Wabi-sabi. In modern Japanese, the word is usually translated as "elegance," "refinement," or "courtliness".

The ideal posed by the word demanded the decline of anything that was absurd or vulgar and the "polishing of manners, diction, and feelings to eliminate all roughness and crudity so as to achieve the highest grace." It depicted that sensitivity to beauty was the hallmark of the Heian era and since to the Japanese culture. Because of the believe was often mixed with a sense of mono no aware, or a sorrow seen in all things, It was thought that things in decline showed a great sense of miyabi. An example of this would be one of a lone cherry tree. The tree would soon lose it's flowers and would be stripped of everything that made it beautiful and so it showed not only mono no aware, but also miyabi in the process.

Because of the strive to rid the world of crude forms or aesthetics and emotions that were common in works like the Manyoshuu. In the Manyoshuu, poems by people of every walk of life were able to submit works and so examples that likened women's hair to snail innards were used. Miyabi was against any example of such as this. This goes to say that miyabi and it's ideal was also a way to separate the higher class from the lower. Only the higher, the courtesans could truly admire the workings of miyabi.

Miyabi in fact limited how art and poems could be created. Miyabi tried to stay away from the rustic, crude, and in doing so prevented the traditionally trained courtesan to express real feeling in their works. In later years of history miyabi and its aesthetic were replaced with that of wabi-sabi, yuugen, and iki because of the Japanese beliefs in Zen buddhism.

A good example to further understand what miyabi is would be found in the novel "The Tale of Genji" by Lady Murasaki. The character Genji and other characters in the story display many of the example of what miyabi truly is.
wikipedia

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31-01-2009
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Quote:
Only the higher, the courtesans could truly admire the workings of miyabi.

at first frankly I thought it's a sick joke. even if there had been such "higher courtesans", it sounds too irrational because there were gardeners, chefs, musicians, artists, and all the artisans received at court. they had to know what miyabi was in the first place in order to support the world of miyabi.
but after thinking it over, I guess it's a misunderstanding.
if a lady in waiting was higher, she was called jouro.
a prostitute was called joro.
so maybe ladies from the higher classes who served at the court are being mistaken for prostitutes there.
and those who made the history of literature in the said era called heian were mostly those ladies.




Quote:
Miyabi tried to stay away from the rustic, crude, and in doing so prevented the traditionally trained courtesan to express real feeling in their works.

again it's "the traditionally trained" jouro's that created those novels, poems, literature in diary form, and essays all typical of the heian era, namely the era of miyabi, by "expressing real feeling in their works" freely.
the recommended lady murasaki's the tale of genji is no exception.



more later

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02-02-2009
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Quote:
Because of the strive to rid the world of crude forms or aesthetics and emotions that were common in works like the Manyoshuu. In the Manyoshuu, poems by people of every walk of life were able to submit works and so examples that likened women's hair to snail innards were used. Miyabi was against any example of such as this.

I'd say it's not appropriate that the monyoshu is mentioned that way.
the manyoshu was not contemporary with anything which falls under the head of miyabi,
a few centuries back, belonging to the different era, the nara.
it's like talking about, say, how roxy music was there to differentiate between their work and folk ballad.






Quote:
Because of the believe was often mixed with a sense of mono no aware, or a sorrow seen in all things, It was thought that things in decline showed a great sense of miyabi. An example of this would be one of a lone cherry tree. The tree would soon lose it's flowers and would be stripped of everything that made it beautiful and so it showed not only mono no aware, but also miyabi in the process.

this should be an example of another thing called mujo or mujo-kan. not of mono no aware and miyabi.
mujo-kan is a perspective rather than an aesthetic.
this comes from a buddhistic perspective.
in the heart of a sutra, there is a saying 色即是空 空即是色,
which is like.....there is an absolute value revealed only when you accept death without any illusion/self-deception, if I was allowed to say it in my own word.
** and gius, this is what I was talking about in the yohji thread.
but I think it doesn't sound eccentric to western world, for it might be similar to memento mori/carpe diem.
also robert lynd says in the pearl of bells:
"with most men the knowledge that they must ultimately die does not weaken the pleasure in being at present alive. to the poet the world appears still more beautiful as he gazes at flowers that are doomed to wither, at springs that come to too speedy an end. the loveliness of may stirs him the more deeply because he knows that it is fading even as he looks at it. it is not that the thought of universal mortality gives him pleasure, but that he hugs the pleasure all the more closely because he knows it cannot be his for long."
this seems like the idea to me.


and those are two misuses of miyabi.
it has to be just normally "a great sense of beauty".
beauty here can be replaced with the term rupa (or ruupa), technically.
therefore, "rupa in the process".


and mono no aware is a kind of sensibility to things, sentimentalizing about things,
your feeling and emotion, delicate and deep.
it is not something things would show.

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Last edited by runner; 02-02-2009 at 08:35 AM.
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02-02-2009
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Thank you for this beautiful thread, runner! I have been looking at some books on japanese aesthetics lately.
I haven't come across the word miyabi very often, though.


Here's one kind of interesting thing I found...

"Japanese aesthetics not only lie like strata, one on top of the other, but combine with each other.
Wabi
and Sabi mingle promiscuously and also have relations with yugen at one extreme and with
furyu at the other. The intimacy of aesthetic attributes amounted to an ambition. The people in
Tale of Genji are all concerned with refinement, with beauty, with elegance. There was a term for
this hoped-for mingling--miyabi, which denoted the strongest appreciation for finer things."



and some other definitions....

yugen: "barely glimpsed rich and mysterious beauty"

furyu
: "refined manners, as reflected in things regarded as tasteful and elegant"

sabi
: "a slightly bleak quality suggesting age, deterioration, and the passage of time."

wabi
: "a cultivated aesthetic that finds beauty in simplicity and impoverished rusticity"

mono no aware
: "a slightly sweet and sad quality as appreciated by an observer sensitive to the ephemeral nature of existence."
Or, "the pity of things." (I love this idea)

So, is miyabi the ideal combination of all of these? Verbal definitions can be so confusing...They all seem to bleed together, yet they all seem to come from different perspectives....it's very interesting.

It helps so much to have the images, thank you again, runner.

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Last edited by laika; 02-02-2009 at 11:12 AM.
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03-02-2009
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my pleasure laika


it's true that the mentioned wabi, sabi, yugen, furyu are intimate.
but that didn't amount to the ambition because the things above were developed far later than the tale of genji and miyabi.
therefore miyabi can not be the ideal combination of them.
and again part of the definitions there is misunderstood.
yes verval definitions are confusing. if anything, could be something constrained.
so distinction by visuals might be the best. and as Mullet said, if there is some aesthetic you recognize by the appearance, atmosphere, etc, that's the one.

to tell the truth, even most of japanese would not define those archaic words clearly today,
especially wabi, sabi, yugen.
maybe the elements that had made the distinctions necessary have gone or are on the verge of extinction. the environment has changed.
I assume people's imagination was much richer in those times and that things looked much more colorful. and even darkness could have been talked about subtlely and distinguishably.
but now some of the elements indispensable to those aesthetics can already be decolorized by science and be bleached under fluorescent light.

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Last edited by runner; 03-02-2009 at 12:40 PM.
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miyabi in a modern form at the current window display for mikimoto
of course in my eyes














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