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A Cascade of Korean Pojagi: Playing with Light

Written on December 10, 2009

I have a fairly extensive and diverse collection of Korean pojagi or the hand stitched wrapping cloths that were sewn from scraps of ramie and hemp cloth in almost every household in old Korea.  I decided to hang a selection from the group in an arrangement that would filter light and also create a play of color and pattern.
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I hung six pieces, the largest of which is the white, pink and orange chogakpo pojagi in the center: it measures 46″ x 43″ or 117 cm x 109 cm.

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Each dates to the first half of the twentieth century, or thereabouts.  Chogakpo is a kind of pojagi that is made in the home for home use, to put it very simply.  Some pojagi were used by noblemen and women and were of luxurious, embroidered silks; these luxury items bear little resemblance to the humble pojagi shown here.

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In general, seams are folded and sewn with whip stitches: the “black” piece shown in detail here is really a collage of extremely inky purple and very dark green colors.  In this pojagi, there are some cotton scraps mixed in with ramie pieces so in the right light there is a nice contrast of semi-opaque to semi-translucent.

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The attraction to pojagi nowadays may be their uncanny resemblance to Modernist aesthetic, much like our fascination with Japanese boro textiles.  The pojagi shown here resemble early Mondrian paintings or maybe a Frank Lloyd Wright window.

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Below you’ll see the backs of the pojagi.  The raking light shows off the seams very nicely.

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Just beautiful, aren’t they?

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8 Comments

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  1. Comment by Velma:

    what you’ve done to showcase their beauty is perfect.

    December 10, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  2. Comment by caro:

    omigosh, hanging them together like that! Just extraordinary. You have some of the most beautiful “home use” pojagi. I’m particularly drawn to the black/purple one, and from previous posts it seems you have more than one black example. In this one, the many curved pieces are amazing.

    December 11, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  3. Comment by studio mhl:

    just discovered your blog and website with beautiful textiles, I showed some pictures on my own blog, hope that’s fine! From now on I will be following your blog, truly amazing work…

    December 13, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  4. Comment by eliza:

    stunning! i wish i had an appropriate space to hang one.

    December 13, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  5. Comment by tiel:

    agree, so stunning. really makes me smile.

    June 1, 2011 @ 6:24 am

  6. Comment by Marian Cvik:

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    April 23, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  7. Comment by Heron:

    gorgeous. These are window treatments, right?
    Heron

    November 2, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

  8. Comment by Stephen:

    Dear Heron, these are not window treatments. These are antique Korean wrapping cloths.

    November 2, 2014 @ 5:58 pm

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