January 29, 2010
I always look forward to posting images of excellent quality boro garments, which I’ve done a few times in the past and which I’m doing again today.
This is a marvelous, very heavily patched and mended boro work kimono, sometimes referred to as a nagagi.
What makes this a superlative coat is its age, the quality of the indigo dyed cottons (the yarns are hand spun and all the cloth is hand woven), its broad, thick stitching, and the inclusion of some very interesting resist dyed cottons and some fantastic, old plaids.
The wear and the fading also contribute to the unconventional beauty of this coat; its soulfulness is the messenger of its appeal. Most of the cloth used to stitch this coat dates to the mid-to-late nineteenth century: have a look at the photo, below, showing a patch on the coat’s sleeve: notice the katazome, or stencil resist dyed cloth which shows gradient stripes: the Japanese refer to this kind of optical striping as “waterfall.” Again, below, look at the nice, big patch of beautifully faded katazome dyed cotton. Of course the indigo dye used for all the cloth on this coat is botanical.
The coat’s back is almost three-dimensional from the profusion and layering of patches. The stitching on some of the pieces is done in thick, white sashiko thread, creating a kind of tracery–a very interesting and delicate contrast to the body of the coat.
Tokyo’s Amuse Museum is now showing the boro collection of the esteemed ethnologist Mr. Chuzaburo Tanaka, whose extensive collection of boro garments–amassed over forty years–was acquired in one of Japan’s most remote and rural regions, Aomori Prefecture.
Please see the link to this phenomenal exhibition here. Those of you familiar with the book “Boro: Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan” will recognize this exhibition as the same collection shown in the book.