Kintsugi: The Japanese Art of Finding Beauty in The Broken

January 27th, 2017

Have you ever come across a plate or bowl that has been mended? Probably not, because we hardly believe in repairing broken things, unless it’s a pair of shoes. The Japanese then are polar opposites, for they place great importance on this act of mending. Their devotion to fixing the broken can be seen through Kintsugi crockery. Kintsugi is the traditional Japanese art of joinery where lacquer, combined with metals like gold and silver, is used for joining broken pieces of crockery. After undergoing Kintsugi, the object exhibits gleaming lines that mark the places it has been fixed. The Japanese believed that these lines made the object more beautiful and valuable since it emphasized its productivity and its time-worn appeal. This practise is believed to have come into existence when Japanese warlord Ashikaga Yoshimasa instructed Japanese craftsmen to come up with an aesthetically pleasing method to mend his favourite cup.

Kintsugi is quite similar to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which sees beauty in the imperfect, impermanent and the rustic. Instead of hiding or masking scars and imperfections, this philosophy believes in celebrating the marks that time, weather and use leave behind. If applied in our own lives, Wabi-sabi urges us to make peace with our imperfect, unheroic, mortal selves and to love ourselves despite, or through our flaws.

There are 3 types of Kintsugi practices:

Crack: Resin or gold dust is used to fill in chips and cracks and to join broken pieces with minimal overlap.

Piece method: Gold and lacquer mixture is used to replace missing fragments

Joint call: Similarly-shaped non-matching fragments are used to replace missing pieces creating a patchwork effect.

amusing planet

Image courtesy: Amusing Planet

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annekata

Image courtesy: annekata

 

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