Kintsugi philosophy: the elegance of imperfection

The Japanese Kintsugi philosophy celebrates cracks and breaks by artfully repairing damaged ceramics and thus meeting the zeitgeist of sustainability

Kintsugi Philosophy creative materials

Author: Ilka

Quickly wiping off the dust from the shelf or cleaning the dishwasher? Not paying attention for a moment and the precious vase or favorite mug ends up broken on the floor. Broken glass brings luck? Small comfort, as we would normally feel anger or even sadness in such cases.

The Japanese Kintsugi philosophy changes this perspective, which is shaped by negative emotions. Careful repairs not only give damaged objects a second life, but also give us acceptance and appreciation of supposed flaws.

What exactly is behind the Kintsugi philosophy?

Literally, Kintsugi means something like "golden connection", because it fills cracks and stylishly joins broken ceramic pieces with a golden lacquer. The roots of the Kintsugi art lie in the millennia-old Japanese craft Urushi. The original repair work in the 15th century focused primarily on functionality rather than aesthetics. Philosophical upheavals in the 16th century resulted in a departure from pomp and luxury. Instead came a new aesthetic of the simple and natural, wabi-sabi, which is also part of the tea ceremonies .

Instead of hiding the supposed flaws of the repair, these are particularly emphasized and brought into focus by the Kintsugi art. The Japanese Urushi lacquer is traditionally mixed with gold, silver or platinum-colored pigments and the broken parts are then gently joined together. The result is an individual object that shines in new beauty.

Decorative materials

Source & Copyright by Ensō, Nakama & Kintsugi Green Decorative Materials

The Kintsugi philosophy teaches to appreciate the imperfection

There is much more to this technology than simply repairing damaged items. The Kintsugi philosophy celebrates flaws mistakes by turning them into an aesthetic concept. Damage is not hidden, but accentuated. Instead of mourning, Kintsugi teaches us to accept the imperfect and, above all, to appreciate it. A new perception of the beauty of the ephemeral and imperfection arises, which is called wabi sabi.

Kintsugi as a sustainable concept

The philosophy of Kintsugi forms a contrast to the western ideals of a rather unnatural beauty and almost unattainable perfection. Instead, perceiving transience and imperfection as part of everyday life and recognizing the beauty that goes with them is the real power of the Kintsugi philosophy. It saves us from directly disposing damaged items and replacing them with new ones. The artistic repairs create new items that tell their very own story and thus gain an ideal value.

Giving old things a new value is a very sustainable concept. So Kintsugi is ultimately comparable to the current European upcycling trend, where creative DIY repairs are a popular alternative to the throw-away mentality.
While the idea of ​upcycledis primarily concentrating on the aspect of sustainability and Kintsugi especially considering the aesthetic value of the objects, both philosophies are united by the respectful, appreciative handling of old, supposedly imperfect objects.

Kintsugi Philosophy DIY Kit

Source & Copyright by Humade Kintsugi DIY Repair Set

Bonnie Kemske's "Kintsugi, the poetic mend"

The Kintsugi philosophy has meanwhile also arrived in the Western world. If you want to find out more, you will find it in the book "Kintsugi, The Poetic Mend". The author, an American artist and ceramic specialist Bonnie Kemskes, describes her fascination for Japanese tradition and the philosophy of appreciating imperfection.

History, techniques and materials are highlighted here as well as the importance of Kintsugi in our current time. We can overcome loss and tragic events and repairs do not need to be hidden. Cracks and scars tell stories and even if they appear fragile at first glance, they demonstrate strength, beauty and recovery.

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