Kintsugi, or Kintsukuroi, is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. It is also sometimes translated as “golden joinery” in reference to the use of precious metals to fill in the gaps in the repair.
Instead of throwing away a favourite bowl or plate with sadness or anger after an accident, the Japanese invented this beautiful artform – Kintsugi – to rejoin the broken pieces with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, giving the fixed item a new one-of-kind appearance that is even more meaningful than the original.
The repair method arose out of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which is the aesthetic principle of seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect.
The timeless wisdom of wabi-sabi might be more relevant now than ever, as the search for meaning and fulfilment in our lives must go beyond our previous materialism. When major parts of society are forced to stop because of this pandemic, Kintsugi provides us with another possible choice of how we can treat those cracks and broken parts in all aspects of our lives. We can choose to be patient or panic, choose to throw away the broken pieces or choose to start a new beginning by filling the cracks with gold.
Our families and communities have been split apart by the pandemic, but perhaps there is gold for us to rejoin each other when the time comes. Our careers are splintered and disrupted — or even smashed in some cases — so what can we do to fill those spaces in our lives. Can we put something beautiful in the same place even if it isn’t the same as what was there before? Can we find beauty in the scars from this virus, and use the hard-won wisdom of this experience as the gold powder to bring us back together better than ever?
With all that said, let’s take some time to appreciate this small collection of classic Kintsugi works and hopefully find some inspiration for our own lives.