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“Unwrapping the Secrets of Korean Textiles: An Exhibition of Pojagi” at the Korea Society, New York

Written on March 22, 2009

In the gallery at New York’s  Korea Society there is a small but fantastic exhibition of pojagi, traditional wrapping cloths of Korea.  Each of the items in the exhibition is from one of several New York collections who lent pieces to this show.

The pojagi included in this exhibition are a range of types: from piece-constructed utilitarian examples stitched from leftover ramie cloth to those which are artfully constructed of brilliantly colored silks to heavily embroidered examples used for ceremonies such as weddings.

The exhibition also shows related material such as Korean embroidery, objects from daily life, and cultural kin to pojagi from sources outside Korea such as American style quilt squares and Japanese fukusa.

On March 18th the Korea Society presented a panel discussion entitled “Pojagi: Cloth, Color and Beyond” which examined the history of pojagi in Korea, its impact on international contemporary fiber arts and a glance at the universal impulse toward patchwork, focusing on American pieced quilts.

Presenters were Lee Talbot, Assistant Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Collections at The Textile Museum, Washington, DC;  Seta K.Wehbé, Assistant Collection Manager of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Chunghie Lee, the well-known artist whose own work is based in the pojagi tradition.

Below is a 20th century chogak po pojagi made of ramie (moshi) from Koo New York.

On my website, I have a beautiful, small, ramie pojagi for sale: even though it is small and deceptively simple-looking, the skill necessary to stitch the “petal-like” forms on the cloth is quite extraordinary.  Have a look here.

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