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A Japanese ceramic repair technique teaches us to embrace our scars

Mending with gold gives pieces a new life and their owners a new perspective

Ceramics repaired with kintsugi, a traditional Japanese technique (Photo by Pallavi Aiyar)

TOKYO "The wound is the place where the light enters you." These words, by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, sang in my head as I examined a simple ceramic bowl in a tiny cafe in a western suburb of Tokyo. The bowl had been elevated to a luminous, compelling objet d'art by the gold-filled cobweb of cracks snaking across it.

Kunio Nakamura holds up a kintsugi-repaired bowl. (Photo by Pallavi Aiyar)

Light had indeed entered this bowl along the lines where it had once shattered, thanks to the particular Japanese art of repairing ceramics called kintsugi. The technique uses the sap of the urushi tree, a powerful natural adhesive, mixed with powdered gold.

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