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Archives for February, 2011

A Boro Asa Textile: Beautiful Translucency

February 28, 2011

Japanese asa, or bast fiber cloth, is wonderful in so many ways, and I love the way patched hemp or ramie cloth looks against the light.This piece here is sewn from two one-loom-width pieces of indigo dyed hemp cloth; the cloth is recycled from a kimono, as we can tell by the two resist dyed family crests which appear on the piece.I’m not sure what was the intended function of this piece, but it’s finished on the top and the bottom.  I’m showing it on the webshop this week. It looks quite different there as it is not seen with light streaming trough it.Lovely patches–and some holes along the center seam.

Can you see one of the resist dyed family crests in the  photo, above?  The crest depicts two stylized cranes.

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A Boro Hemp Edo Komon Kimono: Pattern upon Pattern, Patches and Holes

February 25, 2011

This boro kimono, as it is, with its great distress, its heavy wear and its large, missing pieces of cloth, is evocative of a life of poverty in old Japan.

The original kimono, before the damage from heavy use, was a fine one: it is a 19th century hemp Edo komon kimono, or a kimono that has been stencil resist dyed with a very tiny, all-over pattern, like this one here.The inside of the kimono, glimpsed here, is rich in patches and mending: the use of the word “rich” carrying with it a profound irony as the owner of this heavily worn coat of recycled cloth was anything but rich.On the sleeve, below, we can see the original kimono’s komon pattern–and we can see that it was patched with other komon cloth of different patterns.

A closer view onto the pattern-on-pattern komon layering can be seen in these two photos, above and below.The photographs, below, show the kimono inside-out, for a better view onto the patches which are attached to the interior.  The patches are of hand spun cotton and hand plied hemp fragments.

Some boro garments and textiles can take a visual detour from being something wonderful to look to being something that gives one pause.  This kimono, which is such a stark reminder of poverty in old Japan, carries with it a feeling of the burden of an indigent life, and from this, we can think much more broadly about the human condition.

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