⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

A plate unsuitable for Kintsugi

To live with scars

Texts & Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

去逛舊貨店,與同行朋友同時看上了一隻陶碟子,不知來歷,造工也有點粗糙。白釉藥厚薄不均,底部好幾個地方在燒成的過程裡露出了陶土。碟子很厚,卻很輕,該是陶土密度不高,也因為這樣,特別容易受損——碟子的邊緣已被踫撞得破破爛爛的了。缺點多多,我們還是對它愛不惜手,也說不清箇中原因。

「要為這碟子做金繼嗎?」我問。朋友不以為然:「它不適合金繼啊,這樣才好看。」

金繼是日本修補器物的傳統技術,用漆作為接合料,工序繁多,過程的最後一環,是在接合處塗上混了金粉或銀粉的漆,器物的傷痕閃閃發亮,創傷化為了美麗的紋身,不完美化為完美。然而,原來有時完美反是不完美,也有不適合金繼的器物。

我伸手撫了撫碟子邊緣上的破損,陶土的感觸似乎通往它不為我們熟知的過往,與其把它煥然一新,寧願任它把歷史刻在面上。在面對傷口時,總不知覺想修複它、痊癒它,忘記了接納它的存在,視它的出現為理所當然,也是一種和諧的共處方式。

我們後來將這不適合金繼的碟子帶回家,珍惜它的破舊、不美好、傷痕累累。

Wandering in an vintage shop, my friend and I were both attracted to the same porcelain plate which appeared crudely made and of an unknown origin. The white enamel glaze was unevenly applied; at the bottom of the plate, there were even a few spots where the firing process undesirably exposed the clay. The plate was thick but light probably due to the low density, making the pottery particularly fragile, which somehow also explained its shabby rim. The plate was simply full of defects but for some inexplicable reasons, we simply fell in love with it.

“Shall we do Kintsugi for this plate?”, I asked. My friend shrugged and said, “It’s not quite suitable for Kintsugi. It looks good this way.”

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. It involves a lengthy process but after the joinery, the cracks would glitter with charm. In a way, the original damage gives rise to the beautiful patterns, where the imperfection bears a state of perfection. Despite the magnificent transformation, sometimes there are pottery wares unsuitable for Kintsugi.

I used my hand to feel the damage along the plate’s rim, I had a sense that the texture of the clay was a pathway to the container’s past. Rather than giving it a facelift, why shouldn’t we embrace the marks carved by its own history? We always have an unconscious intention to repair or cover a defect or a wound, but forget the possibility of accepting its existence. To see it as a natural occurrence is actually a kind of harmony of being.

At last, we brought home this plate which is not quite suitable for Kintsugi, and cherish its worn out state and its imperfection.