It’s nothing new to find, yet again, that fragments will add up to more than the whole — but how, and why, is always different.
There were to have been four in all: charming earthenware teacups, brought from South Korea by way of New York to an apartment in the Netherlands. They had been chosen with great care for the recipient, who adhered rather insistently to a particular color scheme in her furnishings. Of a smallish size and without handles, they were shaped to fit nicely in the hand. The measure of tea they would hold would be just right for a few refreshing sips. The blue and white pattern was sparsely modern, with a nod to traditional designs; a thin earth-colored band faintly echoed the unglazed rim showing through on the bottom. How disappointing, then, how distressing, after removing layer upon layer of delicate tissue paper to discover that only a single cup had survived the voyages intact; the three others were in fragments.
Precious fragments and their power of suggestion
The gift-bearer was horrified to see how ineffective she had been at protecting the fragile teacups during their long journey; she wanted the evidence discarded immediately. The recipient, however, could not bear to part with such exquisite shards. There was something fascinating about these ceramic fragments, curved and jagged, reminiscent of what they had been, revealing a formerly hidden high contrast between the glistening outer glaze and the clay interior. The pieces were carefully collected and put away in a box for future contemplation. The cup that had remained whole began double service, in its intended function and otherwise on display in the décor where it matched everything so well.
A new entity created from fragments joined together differently
Much later — long after the visitor had returned to her home — the box of beautiful fragments was brought out. A pretty little footed dish was found and the ceramic pieces arranged on top, in an attempt at a somewhat natural array, as if the cups had broken right onto the surface like so many eggshells. Another visiting friend, spotting this arrangement, suggested that everything be glued together, which was carried out. Then, finally, an additional visitor (one possessing a great talent for photography) made a series of photos from various angles, pictures that could be applied to other objects or exist in their own right.
Tea for one and fragments for all
This tale of four teacups continues in the form of one assemblage, one lovely vessel used for drinking and gazing, a set of images leading many lives, and the foregone conclusion that fragments equal far more than the entirety from which they have come.