Kintsugi: The Aesthetics Of Repair

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Some examples:

A bit more on the philosophy:

As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.

Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” (無心 mushin), which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life.

“Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.”
— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics

2 thoughts on “Kintsugi: The Aesthetics Of Repair

    1. Bix Post author

      It’s great, isn’t it. I had a professor years ago who used to say, when something went wrong, “it’s a beautiful tapestry of imperfection.” Means more to me the older I get.

      Reply

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