In Japan’s Edo period (1615–1868), when a cherished tea ceramic was broken, its user was faced with some choices in determining the damaged ceramic’s future. One way was to have it repaired with urushi (lacquer tree sap), a traditional medium used as adhesive and coating. When desired, urushi was dusted with powdered precious metal, which transformed the refurbishment into an ornamental addition to the ceramic body. The materials and design choices employed to rescue the damaged bodies are visual testimonies that they were valuable and functional objects the owners considered worthy of premium mending and care.
Yayoi Shinoda is Assistant Curator of Japanese Art in the East Asian Art department at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. She has held curatorial positions at the Nelson-Atkins since 2013 and has contributed to projects and exhibitions, including the traveling exhibition Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles, which she co-curated in 2021. She holds an MA in Art History from the University of Kansas, where she is pursuing a PhD.
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Tea bowl, Korea, late 17th century. Stoneware with pinkish-white crackle glaze, gohon type; 8.9 x 14.3 cm. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 32-62/2. Photograph by Dana Anderson.