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Finding Wabi Sabi in African Pottery

Wabi sabi is the Japanese art of appreciating the beauty in the naturally imperfect world. Loosely translated, "wabi" is simplicity, whether sophisticated or rustic; "sabi" means the beauty of age.

The philosophy of wabi sabi is rooted in Zen Buddhism and honours the beauty in natural flaws. It can be found anywhere in the world, including our new rustic clay earthenware from Africa.

The cracks of handmade African pottery are valued because of their unique imperfections, not despite them. Each of our clay bowls is distinct, the perfectly imperfect fusion of necessity and creative spark. The resulting handmade pottery tells the story of the hands that created it.

Wabi sabi can’t be found in concrete jungles, app-packed smartphones or the relentless obsession with self-improvement. Instead, it's the beauty that hides in plain sight. It is an aesthetic of simplicity and acceptance.

Having a wabi sabi approach to life doesn’t mean embracing carelessness or venerating a pile of junk. It's about appreciating, celebrating and sustaining the beautiful imperfection of what's natural.

When you go into a store and find “rustic” clay earthenware that looks like it came off an assembly line, that’s because it did. Nothing about these products says “sustainable pottery” or “beauty found in nature”. The clay pots offered by Obakki are often irregularly shaped or have an uneven glaze, and in their deliberate imperfections we find the beauty—it’s wabi sabi pottery.

Nothing in nature is symmetrical, linear or immune to decay—that’s why watching clouds float through the sky, taking on new shapes moment-by-moment, is so mesmerizing. Freedom is found in the radical acceptance of the unfinished and impermanent; whether it’s in our homes, our work, or our bodies, wabi sabi asks us to embrace the perfectly imperfect.

Following a wabi sabi philosophy in your home means accepting and embracing a space that is brimming with character, rustic charm and things that are uniquely yours. Furnish your home with pieces that are handcrafted, eco-friendly and sustainable—items that tell a story.

Rather than settling for mass-market garbage, choose quality items (like our earthenware pottery) that convey the time, skill and care that went into them. Warped plastic and chipped particle board will never compare to the magic found in a piece of eco-friendly pottery created by a woman who learned her craft from her grandmother.

The time has come to embrace change, fleetingness, and imperfection as a source of beauty, wisdom, and growth. 

Artisanal Handmade Burnt Earth Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Burnt Earth Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Medium Earthenware Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Medium Earthenware Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | M | Akiliba

Earthenware Bowl | M

$125.00
Story

Decorative, textured earthenware with a rustic burnt finish, these bowls are crafted in Uganda from locally-sourced clay.

In rural Northern Uganda you will find the village of Akiliba, home to our artisan partners who are determined to use pottery as a way to sustain their entire community. Their beautiful creations are hand-built using locally sourced clay and then stacked into a brush-covered mound for firing.

Because of their remote location and a lack of transportation, the group was unable to access the larger markets in the area, limiting the amount of pottery they could sell. Now, through Obakki’s partnership, we’ve been able to help them travel to these markets, enabling the community to grow a sustainable local source of income.

Details
  • MEASUREMENTS: ~7.5” diameter, ~4" depth
  • MATERIALS: 100% clay
  • ORIGIN: Uganda
  • Please note, each bowl is handmade using natural clay and fired in open flame; therefore, pigments and shapes may differ from piece to piece.
Product Care

Decorative use only––not oven or dishwasher safe. Hand wash and air dry. Do not leave bowl soaking in water for more than 3 days otherwise clay may crack/break.

Artisanal Handmade Burnt Earth Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Burnt Earth Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Large Earthenware Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Large Earthenware Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Burnt Earth Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Bowl | L | Akiliba

Earthenware Bowl | L

$145.00
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | XL | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | XL | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | L | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | L | Akiliba

Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | L

$145.00
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M | Akiliba
Artisanal Handmade Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M | Akiliba

Earthenware Flat Bottom Bowl | M

$125.00

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