The Japanese artform of Kintsugi celebrates the imperfections, frailties and asymmetry in the world. How can we take inspiration from this practice of mending broken ceramics to heal and grow in our life?
Let us journey all the way back to the 16th century in Japan, where we encounter "Kintsugi" - a very endearing philosophical concept applied to ceramics.
Kintsugi, when translated, means joining (tsugi) with gold (kin).
Kintsugi is a Japanese art form of mending broken porcelain with lacquer, dusted with gold, or silver. However, this amazing practice stands for so much more than just a simple repair.
The philosophical aspect of Kintsugi stems from Wabi-Sabi, a mindset which not only accepts but also celebrates the beauty that lies in simplicity, imperfection and the present moment.
Wabi means "alone" and Sabi - "the passage of time".
"Together they teach us how to embrace the good and the bad parts of ourselves and the asymmetry of life", says Dr Rachel O'Neill. Instead of chasing the unrealistic ideals and glorifying everything "new and shiny", we can turn our attention to something unarguably invaluable - the weathered nature of our shared human experience with all its frailties and deficiencies woven into the fabric of daily life.
Kintsugi not only embraces the damage and the repair. Metaphorically, it also celebrates the journey of healing and growth. After all, at the very foundation, this mindful practice gives a second life to objects through the meticulous reconstruction process, which, according to Yoko Nakazawa can take up to a month to complete!
Candice Kumai, an author of "Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit", believes that the metaphor of Kintsugi allows us to understand the art of healing.
Kumai claims that Gaman, one of the principles of Kintsugi, invites us to practice our ability to remain resilient in the face of adversity. We can achieve that by acknowledging, accepting and appreciating the vulnerable nature of what is imperfect, both in the world of ceramics and in our lives.