The Art of Kintsugi and How it All Began

When an object breaks, our natural instinct is to conceal away the flaws of it and repair it, so it gives a look as if it’s never been broken. However, the Japanese art known as Kintsugi has a different approach to broken items. Kintsugi, which is also sometimes called Kintsukuroi, translates into “golden joinery,” is a method that believes in repairing objects in a way that restores the brokenness into an aesthetic form. To learn more about the history behind this form of Japanese art, read on below!

The Roots of Kintsugi

This Japanese art is a way through which different artists learned to fix the broken ceramics. Instead of rejoining it to look brand new, the jagged ceramic portions were molded and repaired by using gold dust or lacquer. Even though the most common material used is gold, other metals such as platinum and silver are also used to put the broken pieces back together.

The origin of this art began centuries ago; although the exact dates of when it actually started aren’t known, some historians have hypothesized that it goes back to the late 15th century. According to this tale, the tradition of Kintsugi was initiated when a military dictator of japan accidentally broke one of his most loved ancient chawan, which is basically a tea bowl. So, he sent that ceramic bowl for a replacement of it. However, the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa was highly disappointed when he was given back his bowl, which looked displeasing as it was fixed using metal staples which was the usual Chinese practice of fixing things. 

From then on, the artisans started to think out of the box and came up with various ways they could mend this broken pottery in an aesthetically pleasing manner. This led to the creation of the art of Kintsugi coming to life, and by the 17th century, this had become one of the well-known methods by which ceramics were mended back together. People loved this idea so much that they intentionally broke their plates and cups so that they could send them to the craftsmen to build them back up using the gold lacquer.

What Does Kintsugi Symbolize?

Kintsugi isn’t just a way to fix up objects with a beautiful finish. It actually has an idea behind it that even with all imperfections and flaws, one should embrace and love themselves. It is related to the philosophy of wabi-sabi which speaks about seeing the beauty that’s present behind the flaws. It is also associated with the Japanese feeling of mushin, which is to accept the changes that occur in life.

This method gives us a lesson that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of feeling broken, as it only molds you to become a stronger person and come out even stronger than before by picking up the pieces and fixing the cracks with positivity.

So, the take-home message from Kintsugi is that you can fix your broken ceramics in a beautiful way along with a philosophical point of view of accepting your flaws and transforming yourself into a better human.