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Boro - Rags And Tatters From The Far North Of Japan

GT
525
.K65
2008

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Boro - Rags And Tatters From The Far North Of Japan

Koide, Yukiko.

Aomori, Japan : www.aspect.com.jp/, c2008.

unp : col. ill. ; 21.5 X 17 cm.

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Only a few decades ago, Toboku (snow country), and especially Aomori Prefecture was synonymous t most Japanese with dire poverty. Situated dead-end on the northernmost tip of the main island of Honshu, Aomori was home to dirt poor farmers who out of desperate necessity, created an astonishing textile aesthetic out of boro (mere rags).
To those familiar with mingei and the Japan Folk Craft Movement, Aomori typically suggest intricate kogin-sashi and hisbi-zasbi geometric needlework discovered in the region during the pre-war years. Much closer to the lives of the people, however, boro stitchery remains largely unknown, even intentionally buried as an embarrassing reminder of the poverty that was Tohoku. The frozen north was too cold to grow cotton, the northernmost limit for cultivating cotton is Fukushima Prefecture, over 300 kms to the south, so the local folk grew and wove hemp for clothing. Through the Edo Period (1600-1868), when silk was restricted to a privileged handful of samurai class families, commoners were also forbidden to wear cotton despite the bitter climate (Aomori City has the highest snowfall of any prefectural capital in the whole of Japan.) Thus everything from work clothes to baby’s diapers to futon bedding for the long winter nights was sewn from stiff, scratchy hemp cloth. And if a single layer wasn’t warm enough, they stitched and reinforced layer on layer, patching holes and stuffing hemp fuzz in between for whatever little insulation they could get. Boro was the shape of survival in this inhospitable land. Throughout this same Edo Period, farmers down in the Kanto plains around what is now Tokyo and the Kinki region further southwest toward Kyoto and Osaka wore cotton. It wasn’t until l1892, when the first Tohoku Railway line was opened, that anything cotton really found its way north, and even then it didn’t read isolated mountain villages until much later.
Not just rolls of soft cotton yardage, but any scraps of old cloth were coveted commodities to the poor folk Tohoku. The tiniest precious snippets were saved. A lowly furoshiki wrap-cloth filled with threadbare shreds and tatters was all a girl took with her when she got married.
They soaked worn-out old clothes in rice-rinsing water in order to loosen and pull out threads, never wasting the least scrap, stitching over ripped and ragged layers as thick as they could. Or else, they cut it into thin ribbons, which they re-loomed with hemp warps into distinctive nubby saki-ori (literally tear- woven cloth). And as a last resort, any remaining bits of fiber were braided into rope to be worn as headbands while doing farm work. They say these ropes also burned very slowly, making them useful for repelling mosquitos. Hemp from the land makes cloth, becomes rags and finally turns to ash and returns to the soil.
Presented herein is the collection of one Chuzaburo Tanaka who, virtually alone in all of Tohoku, walked the farming and fishing villages of Aomori from the mid-1960s, searching out these traces of the locals’ love of fabric known as boro.
If exactingly reproduced and labeled with French or Italian designer tags, these “not-so-glad-rags” would undoubtedly fetch high-end prices, so perfectly artless is their detailing. Just as consummate “outsider art” shocked contemporary art professionals, the beauty and sheer compositional skill of these boro creations made by impoverished country folk pose fundamental questions to fashion and design circles everywhere.

Available

General Textile SubjectsGeneral Textile Subjects

1 copy available at Textile Center

ISBN:

978-4-7572-1596-2

Author:

Koide, Yukiko.

Title:

Boro - Rags And Tatters From The Far North Of Japan / by Yukiko Koide and Kyoichi Tsuzuki.

Publisher:

Aomori, Japan : www.aspect.com.jp/, c2008.

Physical:

unp : col. ill. ; 21.5 X 17 cm.

Summary:

Only a few decades ago, Toboku (snow country), and especially Aomori Prefecture was synonymous t most Japanese with dire poverty. Situated dead-end on the northernmost tip of the main island of Honshu, Aomori was home to dirt poor farmers who out of desperate necessity, created an astonishing textile aesthetic out of boro (mere rags).
To those familiar with mingei and the Japan Folk Craft Movement, Aomori typically suggest intricate kogin-sashi and hisbi-zasbi geometric needlework discovered in the region during the pre-war years. Much closer to the lives of the people, however, boro stitchery remains largely unknown, even intentionally buried as an embarrassing reminder of the poverty that was Tohoku. The frozen north was too cold to grow cotton, the northernmost limit for cultivating cotton is Fukushima Prefecture, over 300 kms to the south, so the local folk grew and wove hemp for clothing. Through the Edo Period (1600-1868), when silk was restricted to a privileged handful of samurai class families, commoners were also forbidden to wear cotton despite the bitter climate (Aomori City has the highest snowfall of any prefectural capital in the whole of Japan.) Thus everything from work clothes to baby’s diapers to futon bedding for the long winter nights was sewn from stiff, scratchy hemp cloth. And if a single layer wasn’t warm enough, they stitched and reinforced layer on layer, patching holes and stuffing hemp fuzz in between for whatever little insulation they could get. Boro was the shape of survival in this inhospitable land. Throughout this same Edo Period, farmers down in the Kanto plains around what is now Tokyo and the Kinki region further southwest toward Kyoto and Osaka wore cotton. It wasn’t until l1892, when the first Tohoku Railway line was opened, that anything cotton really found its way north, and even then it didn’t read isolated mountain villages until much later.
Not just rolls of soft cotton yardage, but any scraps of old cloth were coveted commodities to the poor folk Tohoku. The tiniest precious snippets were saved. A lowly furoshiki wrap-cloth filled with threadbare shreds and tatters was all a girl took with her when she got married.
They soaked worn-out old clothes in rice-rinsing water in order to loosen and pull out threads, never wasting the least scrap, stitching over ripped and ragged layers as thick as they could. Or else, they cut it into thin ribbons, which they re-loomed with hemp warps into distinctive nubby saki-ori (literally tear- woven cloth). And as a last resort, any remaining bits of fiber were braided into rope to be worn as headbands while doing farm work. They say these ropes also burned very slowly, making them useful for repelling mosquitos. Hemp from the land makes cloth, becomes rags and finally turns to ash and returns to the soil.
Presented herein is the collection of one Chuzaburo Tanaka who, virtually alone in all of Tohoku, walked the farming and fishing villages of Aomori from the mid-1960s, searching out these traces of the locals’ love of fabric known as boro.
If exactingly reproduced and labeled with French or Italian designer tags, these “not-so-glad-rags” would undoubtedly fetch high-end prices, so perfectly artless is their detailing. Just as consummate “outsider art” shocked contemporary art professionals, the beauty and sheer compositional skill of these boro creations made by impoverished country folk pose fundamental questions to fashion and design circles everywhere.

Subject:

Boro textiles--Rags from Aomori Prefecture--Exhibition 2008--Japan.

Subject:

Aomori City textiles--Folk art--History--Japan.

Field Ind Subfield Data
001 Control No     16031
005 LastTransaction     20160310125846.0
020 ISBN   $a ISBN  978-4-7572-1596-2
100 ME:PersonalName   $a Personal name  Koide, Yukiko.
245 Title $a Title  Boro - Rags And Tatters From The Far North Of Japan /
    $c Statement of responsibility  by Yukiko Koide and Kyoichi Tsuzuki.
260 PublicationInfo   $a Place of publication, dist.  Aomori, Japan :
    $b Name of publisher, dist, etc  http://www.aspect.com.jp/,
    $c Date of publication, dist, etc  c2008.
300 Physical Desc   $a Extent  unp :
    $b Other physical details  col. ill. ;
    $c Dimensions  21.5 X 17 cm.
520 Summary   $a Summary, etc. note  Only a few decades ago, Toboku (snow country), and especially Aomori Prefecture was synonymous t most Japanese with dire poverty. Situated dead-end on the northernmost tip of the main island of Honshu, Aomori was home to dirt poor farmers who out of desperate necessity, created an astonishing textile aesthetic out of boro (mere rags).
To those familiar with mingei and the Japan Folk Craft Movement, Aomori typically suggest intricate kogin-sashi and hisbi-zasbi geometric needlework discovered in the region during the pre-war years. Much closer to the lives of the people, however, boro stitchery remains largely unknown, even intentionally buried as an embarrassing reminder of the poverty that was Tohoku. The frozen north was too cold to grow cotton, the northernmost limit for cultivating cotton is Fukushima Prefecture, over 300 kms to the south, so the local folk grew and wove hemp for clothing. Through the Edo Period (1600-1868), when silk was restricted to a privileged handful of samurai class families, commoners were also forbidden to wear cotton despite the bitter climate (Aomori City has the highest snowfall of any prefectural capital in the whole of Japan.) Thus everything from work clothes to baby’s diapers to futon bedding for the long winter nights was sewn from stiff, scratchy hemp cloth. And if a single layer wasn’t warm enough, they stitched and reinforced layer on layer, patching holes and stuffing hemp fuzz in between for whatever little insulation they could get. Boro was the shape of survival in this inhospitable land. Throughout this same Edo Period, farmers down in the Kanto plains around what is now Tokyo and the Kinki region further southwest toward Kyoto and Osaka wore cotton. It wasn’t until l1892, when the first Tohoku Railway line was opened, that anything cotton really found its way north, and even then it didn’t read isolated mountain villages until much later.
Not just rolls of soft cotton yardage, but any scraps of old cloth were coveted commodities to the poor folk Tohoku. The tiniest precious snippets were saved. A lowly furoshiki wrap-cloth filled with threadbare shreds and tatters was all a girl took with her when she got married.
They soaked worn-out old clothes in rice-rinsing water in order to loosen and pull out threads, never wasting the least scrap, stitching over ripped and ragged layers as thick as they could. Or else, they cut it into thin ribbons, which they re-loomed with hemp warps into distinctive nubby saki-ori (literally tear- woven cloth). And as a last resort, any remaining bits of fiber were braided into rope to be worn as headbands while doing farm work. They say these ropes also burned very slowly, making them useful for repelling mosquitos. Hemp from the land makes cloth, becomes rags and finally turns to ash and returns to the soil.
Presented herein is the collection of one Chuzaburo Tanaka who, virtually alone in all of Tohoku, walked the farming and fishing villages of Aomori from the mid-1960s, searching out these traces of the locals’ love of fabric known as boro.
If exactingly reproduced and labeled with French or Italian designer tags, these “not-so-glad-rags” would undoubtedly fetch high-end prices, so perfectly artless is their detailing. Just as consummate “outsider art” shocked contemporary art professionals, the beauty and sheer compositional skill of these boro creations made by impoverished country folk pose fundamental questions to fashion and design circles everywhere.
541 Acq Source Note   $a Source of acquisition  Nancy Mambi.
650 Subj:Topic   $a Topical term  Boro textiles
    $x General subdivision  Rags from Aomori Prefecture
    $x General subdivision  Exhibition 2008
    $z Geographic subdivision  Japan.
650 Subj:Topic   $a Topical term  Aomori City textiles
    $x General subdivision  Folk art
    $x General subdivision  History
    $z Geographic subdivision  Japan.
852 Holdings   $a Location  TC
    $h Classification part  GT 525 .K65 2008
    $p Barcode  95321
    $9 Cost  $35.00

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