Friday, April 27, 2012

Boro - Japanese Textiles

With the permission of one of my very favorite fiber artists Morna Crites Moore, I wanted to share with you what I learned from her recent post on Boro Cloth:

"I am totally in love with boro, a Japanese cloth patched together from pieces of rags and tatters.  These patched textiles were made and used by the people living in the far north of the country, an isolated area with a harsh climate and much poverty until the early twentieth century when economic conditions slowly began to improve. Due to their isolation, cloth was hard to come by and therefore not a scrap was ever wasted. The boro (literally, rags), used for clothing, blankets and so forth, was a humble textile - valued for its ability to protect from the bitter cold and treasured for its long life and many layers of personal history literally stitched into its very being. But it was also emblematic of their poverty and once it was no longer necessary to patch together one's clothing and blankets, the boro might well have disappeared from history if not for the efforts of Chuzaburo Tanaka. Tanaka was that rare person who fully appreciated the beauty inherent in the boro. He saw the patched and heavily stitched articles of daily life for what they are: exquisite examples of folk art in the form of cultural textile treasures. Starting in the mid-1960s, he literally walked the countryside, primarily in the far northern Aomori Prefecture, amassing an extensive collection of boro at a time when nobody else was the least bit interested in the raggedy, patched cloth."
"A wonderful book on the subject is Boro: Rags and Tatters From the Far North of Japan, an out-of-print paperback book which is lavishly illustrated with photographs from Mr. Tanaka's collection.  Nearly all of what I know about boro is contained in this lovely book, which is written in both Japanese and English. Thank you for that, Yukiko Koide and Kyoichi Tsuzuki."
Here are a couple more examples of Boro.  The piece below is from a child's jacket.  Look closely at all the tiny white stitches.
(Photos above are from Boro: Rags and Tatters From the Far North of Japan, by Yukiko Koide & Kyoichi Tsuzuki.)
In one of Morna's up and coming posts:
"I will share with you a wonderful new book which discusses boro as well as other Japanese textiles, all from the perspective of mottainai (waste nothing). The book is Mottainai: The Fabric of Life - Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan, by Kawasaki Kei (Gallery Kei) and Stephen Szczepanek (Sri Threads). It's just recently landed in my mailbox and I can hardly wait to sit down with it. It is beautiful and wonderfully informative."

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