Life Lesson

Confidence isn’t walking into a room with your nose in the air, and thinking you’re better than everyone else. Confidence is walking into a room and not having to compare yourself to anyone else in the first place.

– Unknown

Kintsugi (金継ぎ)

Kintsugi (金継ぎ – ”Gold Joinery”) is the Japanese art of mending broken items with a lacquer dusted with gold, silver or platinum to accentuate damage as a part of the history of an item instead of treating the damage as something to be hidden or ashamed of.

Kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi (侘寂), an aesthetic that is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” in nature. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印, sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常, mujō), suffering (苦, ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空, kū).

Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage, and can be seen as a variant of the adage “Waste not, want not”.

Kintsugi (also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い – ”Gold Repair”) can also relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” (無心, mushin), which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change, and fate as aspects of human life:

Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin… Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. … The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.

– Christy Bartless, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics