Saturday, 7 July 2012

Kintsugi or the Art of "Golden Joinery"

A little while ago, I read on a friend's Facebook page of  Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold.  I thought it was truly fascinating as a concept, and also as a metaphor.
According to the Wikipedia entry for Kintsugi, this skill of making a new and beautiful object out of a broken and probably worthless and useless vessel came about because the late 15th century shogun Ashikaga Yoshimaga sent a damaged Chinese tea vessel back to China to be repaired.  The resultant repairs, with ugly metal staples, were so shocking that the Japanese began to seek better ways to repair broken ceramics. Firing lacquer resin sprinkled with gold dust as infill, Japanese created this new art form of  kintsugi, an art that became so popular that purportedly, people deliberately broke important ceramics simply to enhance them with Kintsugi. Apparently silver was also sometimes used in the lacquer resins.

There is a growing interest in this art form, which allows vessels to take on a fresh and enhanced life, complementing originally refined work or adding new and more modern dimensions to classical vessels. Ironically in our parlous economic times, when repairs and renewals have again often become the order of the day, kintsugi seems to be very relevant as a philosophy and example of ways of repairing and recycling objects.
I also feel that kintsugi is a wonderful metaphor for dealing with daily life.  If disaster or adversity strikes, how can each of us use the equivalent of gold dust to repair the cracks in life, at least to some degree, and create something new and viable, if not beautiful, out of what has happened.  In other words, how can we turn a negative into a transformed but luminous positive?


  1. wow. .. .really nice art collection .. keep it up. . . very awesome creation.
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  2. Thanks for your piece on kintsugi. Wish I'd known about it before I threw out my damaged crockery from the earthquakes! (I'm in Christchurch, NZ). You are quite right about kintsugi being a metaphor for life. The Japanese have suffered many disasters over the centuries, but continue to produce the most beautiful objects and art.

  3. Yes, the Japanese are wonderful in that way. I have a beautiful piece of Imari ware that was the only thing rescued by my grandfather from the earthquake and ensuing fire that devastated Yokohama (and obviously my grandparents' home)in 1923... it did not need repair, marcifully, but it has always been my reminder of Japanese resiliency and creativity.

    Perhaps the only way to think about all your crockery is that it offered possibilities to enjoy new pieces that give you pleasure.

  4. Good Photos and Explanation, Diversity of Japanese Design.
    Here, a gallery in Paris, which has nice japanese art pieces:
    Yakimono Japanese Ceramics

  5. Hello,
    please visit our web about Kintsugi Art

  6. Avec plaisir. J'aime beaucoup les exemples sur votre site, bravo.