Giving meaning to wounded life: the art of Kintsugi – Regards protestants

Much more than a repair, the Kintsugi is a sublimation. It is claimed that this Japanese art originated in the 15th century from a broken vase, the hideous repair of which inspired a shogun’s request to his ceramists to find a solution that magnifies it.

Resilience or sublimation?

Originally, the assembly of the broken pieces was done with gold, which gave the whole a great value. The art of Kintsugi has gradually become more democratic with the philosophical dimension conveyed by the method.

The state of mind seems close to the Western notion of resilience, which describes overcoming a problem or suffering. But where resilience consists in taking small steps aside to avoid the obstacle, the culture of Kintsugi takes note of the injury to magnify it. Resilience is based on the need to progress, the Kintsugi on an overtaking. This way of considering existence is based on human dignity, the scars of which form so many doors to oneself and to the world.

Biblical closeness

This philosophy of returning to meaning after an ordeal that has deprived someone of it is based on six stages that evoke parallels with Christmas stories. For example, Pause. An ordeal suffered or the breakage of an object provokes a time of dejection and assessment, a reflection that can be found in part during the Christian period of Advent or that of Lent. This is reminiscent of the notion of an announcement, when a person receives news that decenters them from their usual life. In the Bible, the announcements made to Elizabeth and Mary are totally inconceivable because they go beyond two impossibilities concerning sterility, which are old age and the absence of fertilization. In order to accept them, it is necessary to mourn rational logic. This step generally requires time and to take stock, to make an analysis.

Restore meaning

The second stage consists of the Assembly of the broken parts, to give form to a hope of what could be the future. Then a third step promotes Patience. This joins in particular the story of the shepherds following the stars and walking in the night wondering what was going to happen.

During the fourth step of the Repair, the craftsman bends over each piece to connect it to the others with a gold thread and seal the breaches. It is a work of analysis, concentrated on a precise part. It is then a question of accepting that small gestures come to modify daily life and give it meaning. The ability of Joseph and Mary to find a stable after the lack of space in the inns, or the figure of Jesus himself, weak presence in the eyes of the immense Humanity are illustrations of the power of reparation.

A new identity

The last two phases of Kintsugi are Revelation and Sublimation. Leaving the gaze of precision on the assembled parts, the vision takes height and embraces the whole. The repaired object then takes on its own identity, like individuals forming a team. The Christian Christmas does not stop at the birth of the Little Jesus, but acknowledges that a tiny light can restore hope to the darkness of a life. Although this Japanese philosophy is centered on individual therapy, its steps are relevant and useful in the context of Advent and to understand the reality of Christmas, the sublimation of divine love in a broken world.

Giving meaning to wounded life: the art of Kintsugi – Regards protestants