I am enamored with the beauty of Kintsugi (also known as Kintsukuroi). This is the Japanese art form of using gold, silver, or platinum powder, mixed with lacquer to repair cracks and imperfections in pottery. Kintsugi, translated means “golden journey” (likewise, Kintsukuroi means “golden repair”). The history of this work is estimated to date back to 15th century Japan when the military dictator, Ashikaga Yoshimasa returned a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs. It is said that when the piece was returned to him, it had been mended with ugly metal staples. This prompted Japanese craftsmen of the time to entertain more aesthetically pleasing means of repair.
Not only is the appearance of this art form beautiful to me, but the philosophy behind it as well. The feeling is that the imperfections, or breakage of a piece is part of its history. History that should be “celebrated”, or embraced, not disguised. That sentiment resonates with me.
In it’s basic form, I admire the beauty of the repaired ceramics. What once was perfect is transformed into something with new character and new beauty and interest. Making no attempt to hide the flaw, attention is brought to it with new appreciation. It reminds me of how a river cuts through the landscape. Not in perfect lines, but in jagged, interesting ruts and turns.
I love to apply this philosophy to aspects of my life. (Well, I want to.) The premise being that our history has shaped who we are. Our past has impacted our life, good or bad, to make us the people we are now. Each positive and negative experience has left its mark and carved and shaped us into who we have grown to be.
Indulge me while I transfer this philosophy to the human body. I think of my oldest who has endured three open heart surgeries. His chest scar, to me, is not something imperfect, but something amazing. The result of that scar is a saved life. The trauma that his body endured and the fear that my husband and I lived through (and still live through) is captured in that beautiful line down his body. The strength and perseverance that I associate with that scar reminds me of the golden thread that joins the broken.
I’d also love license to apply this philosophy to the bodies of mothers. Fathers enter parenthood with little or no affect to their bodies (except perhaps byproducts of stress eating. It’s a thing.) But mom bodies are changed forever. Oh, you may not see it buried under those Lucky jeans, or beneath the spandex making it’s daily trip to the spin class, but the remnants remain. Stretch marks, separated belly muscles, sagging tah tahs….need I go on? These are a badge of honor of motherhood. We hate ourselves for them, but it’s time to change that. They are the byproduct of the life-giving gift of motherhood; the gold that joins our singlehood to couplehood to family.
Let’s also look to apply the Kintsugi philosophy to aging. (And let hurry up, ‘cause I ain’t gettin’ any younger.) As our bodies change with age, we begin to pay for every injury we sustained, every sunburn we endured, and every doughnut we ever ate. The wrinkles on our face are the gold of emotion; of sadness, of worry, of joyful smiles and laughter. The extra weight around our middles is the gold of celebrations; of birthday cupcakes, of graduation parties, of wedding feasts. And every ache and pain is the golden reminder of a lifetime of activity; of touchdowns scored, of races finished, of physical accomplishments.
One day I hope to own a real Kintsugi piece. I want to hold it and admire its lovely uniqueness. I want to enjoy the addition of sparkle and precious metal highlighting the new design not put there by the conventional artist, but by the artist of life, of existence, of circumstance. I also hope to one day truly own the philosophy of Kintsugi and apply it to my own self-image and the appreciation of imperfections in myself and in others, also brought on by the artist of life, of existence and circumstance.
* Pic from Pinterest
1 Pic from www.mentalfloss.com
2 Pic from www.lifehopeandtruth.com
3 My baby boy.
4 Pic from www.lakesidepottery.com