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A Complex Chogakpo Pojagi: Delicacy in Cloth from Korea

March 30, 2011

As you probably have picked up from some previous postings, I love Korean pojagi, traditional wrapping cloths that are hand stitched from scraps of ramie or moshi cloth.  Today I am showing one of the favorite pieces in my collection.
At first glance this chogak po style pojagi, or one made of scraps, is deceptively simple in design, with its seemingly regular vertical stacks of diagonally-sliced blocks.  But keep looking.Notice how the stacked blocks become compressed at a certain point and then give way; how long, leaning diagonals cut through the blocks, providing a kind of counter-rhythm to the “melody,” as it were. Whoever stitched this pojagi had magnificent skill and deft fingers: some of the pieces of ramie cloth are so small that it’s a wonder that they didn’t simply unravel in her hands.

This probably dates to the middle swath of the twentieth century.   It measures 29″ x 28″ or 73.5 cm x 71 cm.  And it’s beautiful.And a quick update on the new webshop: we’re behind schedule, but hopeful for an unveiling within the next ten days.

THANK YOU for your patience and for visiting this blog, and please don’t give up yet: the shop will be up soon, and it will be showing some of the new finds from Japan, which I’m getting organized as I type this.

If you’d like to sign up for our weekly email announcing new items added to the shop, please send me an email: [email protected]

 

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A Cascade of Korean Pojagi: Playing with Light

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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