We come as broken shards
to be pieced together –
our sharp edges,
and held by the glowing flux
which traces what has gone before,
transforming regret into strength and beauty.
Not mending but creating anew…
Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with seams of gold. When the brokenness is repaired, the object becomes more beautiful and unique than it was before. Instead of hiding the scars, it makes a feature of them.
The word Kintsugi means Gold (Kint) and to Mend (Sugi)
One of the leading artists promoting and teaching Kintsugi is Makoto Fijimura.
He gives his insight into the meaning of Kintsugi in a video he recorded as part of his programme known as Culture Care Creative, of which he is the founder.
In seeking to mend what is broken, this is the opposite to our prevailing disposable culture. Instead of throwing away and buying new, it is about valuing what you have.
Makoto describes the mending not as ‘fixing’ but as a redemptive journey which leads to a new creation.
He tells of the aftermath of an earthquake in Japan. Homes were destroyed but the concern of many was to mend their bowls. Bowls were all that was left the mending became a ‘safe zone’ which has the power to heal people.
In the mending you stand between repairing and creating. The imperfect becomes a symbol of the beauty of broken things.
We live with trauma, he says, and we are looking for healing in the midst of all that.Never more true than in our own times of conflict and destructive brokeness.
There is a physical process but it belies a kind of spiritual meaning.
At a popular level, the British TV Programme, Repair Shop´ in which people bring favourite broken objects which are steeped in memory, involves a kind of Kintsugi. The Team restore and renew what is presented to them because they are skilled in particular crafts. However, it is a work of love which is fed by the stories behind the damaged objects.
Old memories are reshaped and recreated into a new ones. Often we can be moved to tears, and certainly the ones seeking repairs are, because this is the real renewal.
In Kingsugi, the bowl or object seems just like a broken bowl but the cracks are filled with gold – what Makoto calls a gold river running through it.
Makoto emphasises healing and he draws from that a Gospel message.
Christ, he says, came not just to fix us but to restore us to create something new, which is more valuable than what we began with.
Redemption is re-making us in the image of Christ and the result of that is the river of Gold that reconnects us is God Himself holding us.
Kintsugi = God mends