It's called kintsugi. The ancient Japanese art form uses gold to join broken pottery, and was thought to have started when a fifteenth century shogun tried to repair a Chinese teapot. Dissatisfied with the less-than-aesthetic repairs he received, the shogun sought out something more visually pleasing. The result was kintsugi.

Photo by Gerda

The irony is obvious: it makes broken pottery (something generally considered uglier than the "original" object, and is certainly much less useful. A broken teapot doesn't really hold tea.) into something more beautiful than the original.

It's a metaphor I like to think appropriate for recovery. Take the photo above. It was a basic white plate before it was broken. Before I got sick, I was like the plate. I looked normal and functional. But the eating disorder, depression, and broke me. Shattered.  It would have been all too easy just to throw everything away, to say that myself and my life had become broken and useless.

Over the past few years, I have picked up the pieces and attempted to put myself back together. At first, I stood back and didn't know whether to keep the final product because it didn't look like the original. It was flawed. I was flawed. As any perfectionist knows, "flawed" just isn't good enough.

But then I heard of the art of kintsugi, and I realized that flawed can be beautiful in its own way. Maybe, even, more beautiful than the original. Of course it doesn't look identical to what it was before it broke, and perhaps that's kind of the point. I am back together, functional again. Not the same as I was previously, but I have survived. I am my own kintsugi.

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rachel said...

love this. (:

Jen said...

I'm going to send this wonderful post along to my daughter. Beautiful thought; beautifully written.

hm said...


Dawn said...

wow, love this! well said!

C-Girl said...

what a phenomenal illustration and so beautifully presented. I am going to keep this in the memory bank!

Anonymous said...

Very eloquent! Love it! :) This reminds me of the metaphors written in Eating in the Light of the Moon.

Joy said...

This may very well be my favorite blog post of all time!

Carrie Arnold said...

Thanks everyone! Glad you like it!

scottrecovered said...

I LOVE this metaphor! This will be a new image to remind me, every time I look at it, what I am working towards :)

Lakeside Pottery said...

See where kintsugi pottery be made to order

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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