Kintsugi: The Art of Embracing Damage

Last updated on 9/22/2020


“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

—Barbara Bloom

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery. When a beloved object has been broken, an artist pieces it back together with resin, and adorns the cracks with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. This ancient art embodies the philosophical belief that beauty exists in imperfection. It celebrates the process of breakage and repair as an essential feature of an object’s history. The artform does not seek to restore the object by disguising the state of brokenness. Instead, the artisan uses precious metals to illuminate the imperfections.

Kintsugi is a perfect analogy for the human healing experience. Visually, it conveys the idea that our experiences add beauty and value to our stories. Kintsugi teaches us to embrace the totality of our experiences, especially those that shine a light on our imperfections. It helps us to “see” the beauty of wear and tear, and inspires us to see ourselves becoming more beautiful as we overcome adversity and suffering.

“Kintsugi: Embracing the Imperfect,” a video by Terushi Sho, demonstrates the artistic process. It discusses the ancient art in the context of Eastern philosophy, highlighting the joy of finding beauty in imperfection. (Video produced by BBC Reel)

*Images: Unknown

Published by A. Irvin

Dr. Angela Irvin is a clinical psychologist and mental health educator. Her clinical specialties include forensics, trauma, and personality-related issues. She is also an expert on cultural facets of mental health relating to race, gender, and class. As a mental health educator and writer, she emphasizes research-based information that promotes holistic wellness.