We all can own up to having an idealised version of ourselves in our minds. Getting that perfectly enriching job, happy moments with our families and the respect of others, but life often deals us different cards, leaving most of these plans of curating the perfect versions of ourselves in shattered fragments. But do we throw these fragments away?
As 2020 draws to a close, perhaps we can take refuge in a concept drawn from Japanese philosophy, and in particular their approach to ceramics.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of picking up the broken pieces of an accidentally-smashed pot only to reassemble it and then glued together with lacquer inflected with a very luxuriant gold powder. There is no attempt to disguise the damage, infact the gold celebrates the damage and renders the fault-lines beautifully with its lustre. The precious veins of gold are there to emphasize that breaks have a philosophically-rich merit all of their own.
This method transforms the artifact into something new, making it more rare, beautiful, and storied than the original. In an age that worships perfection and the new, the art of kintsugi retains a particular wisdom – as applicable to our own lives as it is to a broken teapot.
This concept of “healing with gold” is echoed in other cultures as well. The allure of gold thread runs through historical textiles around the world, be it European brocades to Iranian velvets to our very own Indian saris.
India, with its proud hand-weaving legacy, hosts breathtaking celebrations of gold within the weaves of the zari work, passed down as heirlooms, intrinsic to our culture.
The pure gold zari of your favourite kachivaram shines lustrously, almost trapping sunlight within its folds, the gold within your Benarasi makes it gleam and glisten. This year has touched most of us with loss, pain and suffering but it's also helped us band together as a community and helped us grow.
This New Year, let's add a touch of Kintsugi in our lives and celebrate our fault-lines, our hardships and most importantly the resilience with which we fought in our own little ways. Lets wear our chips and cracks with pride and, let's drape our beautiful, breathtaking golden sarees and heal with the power of gold.