Kintsugi and you

“At home my children sometimes put on their jeans and their foot accidently goes through the knee, my 10 year old continues to wear them and calls it a ‘style statement’. This is also highly fashionable yet again on the high street. In my twenties I would put a pair of brightly coloured fish net tights underneath my ripped jeans to really draw attention to the holes and the other day I had an amusing moment where I found a pair in a high street store with patches designed to look like pink fishnet tights attached to the inside of the rips. I felt like quite a fashion icon for all of five minutes!

As we become sensible grown-ups we get the urge to fix things in a manner that is invisible or at least less obvious. When we rip our jeans we neatly patch or stitch them back together as invisibly as possible or, for instance, when you accidentally knock Tony’s mug out of the cupboard at work and the handle comes off you dash for the superglue, stick it back on and hide it at the back behind someone else’s mug before it is missed. 

In Japan they take a different approach to accidents and age with a technique called Kintsugi which is used to repair broken pottery and in doing so is felt to make the object even more beautiful than before. This is the epitome of this concept of highlighting an imperfection as the repair is done with gold. The Japanese make a paste with powdered gold and resin and then do one of three things. If it is just cracked the mixture will be used to fill the crack like a thin river of gold running through the side of the pot. If a section is missing it can be rebuilt slowly with the mixture until a whole section of the wall of the pot is then golden. Or finally if a replacement piece can be found to slot into the gap from another broken pot it will be fixed into place with the mixture a bit like a patchwork pot. These are then seen as brand new pots with a whole new lease of life and even more beautiful than they were when they were new.

So just like the pots as you get older you get more beautiful as you gain imperfections. As you have to be repaired you become a new and more beautiful you. “

Excerpt taken from Embracing Your Inner Wabi Sabi available via the shop or on Amazon

Feature image Tea bowl, Korea, Joseon dynasty, 16th century AD, Mishima-hakeme type, buncheong ware, stoneware with white engobe and translucent, greenish-gray glaze, gold lacquer – Ethnological Museum, Berlin

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