May 23, 2012
There is an ancient Japanese tradition of mending broken pottery with gold-enriched resin, which is said to render the object more beautiful than before it was broken.
The story of kintsugi may have begun in the late 15th century, when a shogun sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China to be fixed. It returned held together with ugly metal staples, launching Japanese craftsmen on a quest for a new form of repair that could make a broken piece look as good as new, or better. Japanese collectors developed such a taste for kintsugi that some were accused of deliberately breaking prized ceramics, just to have them mended in gold.
For most of us, any “pristine symmetry” in our lives is shattered these days. Artful repair is the name of the game. What a beautiful example the Japanese masters give us, once again. There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.