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Kintsugi – Spit Gold

24 August 2013

Author : joseph-delaney

Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi, literally ‘golden joinery’ or ‘golden repair’, is the Japanese art of ceramic renovation using golden lacquer; applied to the edges of the broken pieces, binding them together, the aesthetic philosophy focuses on imperfections rather than attempting to disguise them, with the intention that the piece becomes both more valuable and more beautiful because of its history.

A recent piece for Dazed & Confused by artist and BYOB contributor Amalia Ulman alludes to the tradition with its use on a ‘replaceable’ ashtray, here repaired with golden glitter, placing on it a new worth by ‘[shifting] the value of a superfluous object by treating it as essential.’


The custom is said to have come about when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, having sent a piece of ceramic away to be repaired, was unhappy with the way in which it has been done using the standard method of metallic staples. This launched Japanese craftsmen on a quest for a new form of repair that could make a broken piece look not just as good as new, but better.

The practice continues, though, with a symbolic note in mind: one of resilience, of damage as an opportunity for personal transformation and reinvention. For instance, on a small level, a parallel lies in the replacing of lost teeth, like those of Polymath Genesis P-Orridge after one too many clashes with the microphone, with gold crowns, trading them in for those that will endure. The concept of replacing that which is despoiled and degraded, either in physicality or perception, with something of value is a concept at the core of modification.

Amalia Ulman – Ashes & Pieces

Hans Feurer – Untitled

Adam Martinakis – Golden Boy

Black / Gold Kintsugi

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