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A Boro Burlap Suit

Written on February 19, 2011

What a marvelous thing: this is a Western styled boy’s–or man’s–suit sewn entirely from scraps of burlap.  It probably dates from the early twentieth century.The suit is unlined, and as you an imagine, it would be very scratchy on the skin were under garments not worn–or even if they were. From seeing this suit, with its non-Japanese buttons and pockets, with its belt loops, with its Western style collar and other non-traditional details, we know that this suit was made in an era when Western influence pervaded Japan, starting in the late nineteenth century.Even though the suit is made from salvaged cloth of the lowest possible quality, most likely this was a dressy suit for its owner who we have to surmise had very little money or social standing.Notice that the burlap is mended and is threadbare.  Imagine the life of the person who owned this, especially if this was his “Sunday best.”The suit is small; you’d think it would fit an adolescent boy.  Possibly it belonged to a man, but there is no way to know. The sewn details are beautiful.  The entire suit is heart-breakingly lovely.

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  1. Comment by Heather:

    Heartbreakingly lovely is right.
    There is a legendary Canadian immigrant from Sweden, back in the 1930’s, who was a little crazy and built an oceangoing vessel, in the middle of the Prairies, so he could sail back home. Amongst his other accomplishments, he sewed himself a suit of burlap. Although that suit has long since vanished, I imagine what he made looked a lot like what you present here.

    February 19, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  2. Pingback from Tweets that mention A Boro Burlap Suit | Sri Threads -- Topsy.com:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Lovely and Steve Workman, ann wood handmade. ann wood handmade said: heartbreaking burlap suit: http://threads.srithreads.com/2011/02/19/a-boro-burlap-suit/ […]

    February 21, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  3. Comment by Janey Pugh:

    What a fantastic thing is the suit. Such a feeling of artistic temprament.
    Wonderful. Thank you.

    March 12, 2012 @ 2:09 am