In traditional Japanese arts, there exists a practice that not only embraces imperfections but glorifies them. Kintsugi (金継ぎ), which translates to “golden joinery” or “golden repair,” is the art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Rather than hiding the breakage, Kintsugi celebrates it, teaching us that something broken can be made even more beautiful than before.
Unfortunately, the handle of my beloved teapot broke off recently. Common modern practices might have led me to a hasty adhesive fix or even to discard the fractured item. Yet, the ethos of Kintsugi offers an alternative perspective: to view the breakage and repair as part of the object’s history, making it more profound and aesthetically pleasing.
More than just a repair
Kintsugi is not merely about mending broken objects. Beyond the technical procedure, Kintsugi embodies a deeper philosophy. Every step in the process can be considered meditative, urging us to be present and engaged in the act. The gentle brushing of lacquer or glue, the careful mixing with gold, and the patience required as each layer dries invites to be entirely in the moment. This practice encourages reflection on the impermanence, the fragility, and the beauty of existence. It encourages to appreciate imperfections, not as flaws, but as integral aspects of an item’s identity.
Approaching my teapot, I found that Kintsugi is as much about patience as it is about skill. It brings an unexpected serenity. The teapot, with its broken handle, began to tell its own story. And as I worked on it, the narrative transformed from one of breakage to one of resilience. In the end, the handle was not only reattached but was now adorned with gleaming lines of gold, bearing witness to its journey and transformation. It stood not just as a functional vessel but as a testament to its own history and resilience.
Kintsugi is not just a repair technique. It’s a philosophy and a meditative process. In a world that often values the flawless, I think, this practice reminds us of the beauty in imperfection, teaching us to honor scars and wear them with pride.
And the most important aspect after the Kintsugi repair and all its considerations? I could finally enjoy my tea again.