Ekphrasis on a Kintsugi Bowl


Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using a resin mixed with precious metal to repair cracks or breaks in pottery. The goal is to celebrate the age and usefulness of the item, and to make it more beautiful in its damaged state than it was when it was whole, rather than to hide the repair. The particular example of the art that inspired this poem is in the photo above.

Ekphrasis on a Kintsugi Bowl

If silence is golden, surely the potter said
not a word as he sprinkled the powdered metal,
considered the smashed lacquerware, applied
the precious patchwork, illuminated a ceramic
manuscript of history and ceremony. There is no
shame in shattering, his work assures down six
centuries, no need to obscure the strength of
an object resilient enough to withstand
careless handling or callous intent. Celebrate it
instead, make it part of the truth of the bowl
you hold in your palm, of the weight of its
age, of the beauty in its ideally flawed form.
And finally, pour the tea. It will not spill.


(photo: museum catalog)


2 thoughts on “Ekphrasis on a Kintsugi Bowl

  1. The first two lines really grabbed me – you paint such a contemplative image of the potter. I like how the kintsugi artist seeks to incorporate and embrace change; rather than fight it and/or mourn the loss of the perfect bowl or tea cup, they make something equally (if not more) beautiful. It is a lesson I am struggling to learn and embrace myself!


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