Have you heard of kintsugi? It’s become more popular in recent years, but I first heard of it when I was living in Japan and was lucky to join a kintsugi workshop. It was a special experience to mend our broken pottery with a mixture of lacquer and a golden powder. As I didn’t have any broken pottery at the time, I went to the local Daiso (Japan’s dollar store) and broke it myself to participate in the workshop. I wouldn’t call my bowl art as a beginner crafter, but it became a piece that I treasure.
Kintsugi’s origins aren’t entirely clear, but it’s widely said to date back to the 1400s when a Japanese shōgun charged his craftsmen with finding a more aesthetically pleasing way of fixing a broken tea bowl, rather than the traditional method of using ugly metal staples. The Japanese craftsmen bonded the pieces of pottery together using precious metals, including gold, to highlight the breaks instead of concealing them, making the piece more magnificent.
The literal translation of kintsugi is “golden joinery” or “golden repair,” but it’s come to mean much more. Kintsugi has become an important art form that also teaches us to embrace the beauty of imperfections and that something once broken, can become more unique and resilient. The unbroken piece may be beautiful and shiny, but not necessarily memorable or interesting. With kintsugi, it’s the golden seams mending the broken pieces back together that create something truly outstanding.
The power of kintsugi is that we may have broken pieces, but we are worthy of repair and not disposable. It’s the healing and growth from our experiences that make us even stronger and more beautiful. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without some of my broken pieces and the growth and lessons that came as I mended.
Hopefully, this can be a reminder for us to practice more compassion for one another and ourselves. Perhaps to silence the inner critic that wants us to conceal our imperfections, but rather celebrate them as it’s a part of our story and makes each one of us unique and precious. Regardless of whether our golden seams are visible or not.
I bet you won’t look at a broken bowl or pottery the same way now.
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