Kintsugi, the Art of Embracing Damage

Kintsugi, to join with gold, which is a methodology for repairing broken Japanese ceramics. It is said that this idea came from around late 1400s, when a shogun (general) broke his favorite tea bowl, the bowl was fixed but the shogun would like it to be beautified and that was when gold came to play.

The other origin of kintsugi is said rooted in accepting flawed imperfection as wabi-sabi. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete." It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō), suffering (苦 ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū). Rustic and simple-looking of a vessel is very common based on the concept of wabi-sabi. Also, being damage can be a part of the story not the end.

To repair a broken ceramic with gold, the first step is to lay out like jigsaw pieces to see if repairs are possible or not. Then putty is applied to hold tightly together the pieces until they set. Sandpaper is used to polish the surface thus laquer mixed with gold can be painted over the cracks. Along with the cracks, craft men can use their creative skills to draw new things along the line, like leaves, branches, patterns etc that bring new lives and dynamics to the original story. Check out this video for a Kintsugi event hosted by Kintsugi Oxford 

Do you have anything to be healed? Have you found the gold to put things back together? Kintsugi is a process of healing that creates beauty with existing brokenness. It might be an inexpensive china piece from your grandma or the first birthday gift from your lover. Let your eyes move from the brokenness to the renewed beauty. Life is good!

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