The Japanese art of Kintsugi: Applying it to life

Kintsugi, a Japanese art form, has been popularized in popular culture quite recently. Today, we’ll look at the history, definition, and practical application of the Japanese art form.

What is Kintsugi?

Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that involves gluing shattered ceramic pieces together with gold. It is based on the belief that by accepting faults and imperfections, you may create a stronger, more beautiful work of art. Each break is unique, and rather than mending the object as if it were new, the 400-year-old method emphasizes the “scars” as part of the design. Using this as a metaphor for self-healing offers us an essential lesson: sometimes, in the process of fixing damaged things, we create something more distinctive, beautiful, and durable.

Kintsugi has long reflected prominent philosophical concepts in addition to functioning as an aesthetic ideal. The technique is linked to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which encourages people to recognize beauty in the imperfect. The Japanese emotions of mottainai, which conveys sadness when something is thrown away, and mushin, which indicates acceptance of change, inspired the mending process.

History of Kintsugi

Kintsugi, according to art historians, was created by pure accident. When shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa’s favorite tea bowl broke, he sent it to China for repairs, only to be disappointed when it returned stapled together. Because the metal pins were ugly, local artisans devised a solution: they covered the crack with golden lacquer, enhancing the bowl’s uniqueness and value. This restoration restored the fallen bowl to its former status as the shogun’s favorite and spawned a new art genre.

Applying Kintsugi in our day-to-day lives

The truth is, we’re all imperfect. We make mistakes in life and through each mistake, we heal and grow. With the art of Kintsugi, instead of harping on our mistakes, we will work to highlight the beauty of what we do have.

In other words, your past experiences and who you are now are sufficient. Chips and breaks will occur from time to time, and we’ll have to fix them. And that’s all right. But we can all use what we already have — even our imperfections — to make ourselves even more beautiful than we already are. And that is the art of Kintsugi.

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