What can we learn from a broken dish? Kintsugi gives new life to damaged or aging ceramic objects by transforming vulnerability and history. One could…
Kintsugi is said to have originated in the 15th century when a Japanese shogun broke a favorite tea bowl and sent it back to China to be fixed. But the repair job, which was done with metal staples - being the standard for repair at that time - detracted from the beauty of the bowl. Disappointed, the shogun enlisted a Japanese craftsmen to come up with a more aesthetically pleasing solution, and kintsugi was born.
Cracks in this earthenware bowl were filled with lacquer, and then gold powder was sprinkled on the lacquer before it dried. This technique is called kin-zukuroi (repairing with gold). The artisan, Hon’ami Koetsu (1558-1637), intended the repaired part to represent water flowing from melting snow. (Akaraku ware tea bowl, named Seppo. Property of Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art)