The Fabric of Life
The word boro means ‘patched together’ and here refers to the indigo-dyed patched-together garments of the Japanese rural population. Expensive cotton fabrics were reserved to the upper classes. As worn-out rags, they found their way cheaply into the hands of the peasants, who patched them together to create impressive garments of great aesthetic charm.
In their minimalist beauty, these recycled textiles stand not only for artistic creativity and the positive affirmation of the transitory nature of all existence, but also for respect for the natural material and the work of the hands.
The precursors of the boro textiles were the kesa, the garments worn by Buddhist monks, which were also patched together as the outward expression of the Buddhist ideal of poverty. Outstanding monks’ garments from the museum’s own collection have been incorporated into the boro exhibition.
By chance, I got to own a piece of boro, a futonji which became a wall hanging at home. Would have love to go to see this exhibition. If you are near Cologne please go to see the exhibition!
28 March to 2 August 2015
Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln
The embroidery for this child’s du dou (traditional under garment) departed from the popular theme of blessing; that of fertility, protection, etc.
It is unusual for the embroidery to depart from the generic themes of blessing, I have a feeling that the embroidery is the portrait if of the child the du dou is for, a chubby naughty boy who is the darling in her mother’s eyes.
Click to see our other du dou.
In the center of the du dou (traditional Chinese under garment) is an embroidery of the Goddess of Child Delivery, the Taoist goddess who is in charge of fertility and child bearing. The young wives would worship the goddess by offering sweet and fruits in the temple, a “cim” stick would be drawn, a lucky cim would meant the goddess has granted the woman’s wish of having a child, a small jacket would then be put on the child figurine which the goddess is holding. After the child is born, the mother would return to thank the goddess with a feast of offering.
This shoulder bag is from the Bai tribe of China.
Composed of embroidery, patchwork, though colourful has a beige handwoven cloth as the base for the bag.
White is the colour for the Bai tribe (Bai meaning white), they based their costume on this colour, the noblest of colour.
This costume belonged to the Sanjiang Dong Tribe of the Guangxi area.
The garment is made with handwoven fabric with brocade trimming around the collar and placket, a decorative embroidery trimming is added to the bottom of the jacket. It would be worn as an opened jacket revealing the embroidered du dou that is worn underneath.
Still looking for a hat for the Halloween?
The creature on top of the hat is not an alien or a monster but a tiger. This powerful animal has been a subject for worship, its strength and fearless image offers a kind of protection and aspiration for the Chinese. Along with other costume of the tiger theme, the tiger hat would be given to the child by the parents on Chinese New Year so the child can be protected for the rest of the year.
Click here to see the other tiger costumes.
Waist 430mm, Hong Kong
A waist coat we have designed with a piece of brocade from the Miao tribe. In traditional Miao costume, its normally found as a decoration for collars, sleeves, as well as for baby carriers.
For needle brocade, the technique used for this fabric please fwd to 9m20s.
A delicate embroidery of flowers with gold threads on a fine piece of silk. An example of the school of Guangdong embroidery where different thread material is being used, gold, silver, horse hair and even threads made from peacock’s feather.
This item is a du dou, a traditional under garment which is made by the girl for their lover, husband and children. The pattern on the this du dou seems to be cropped which might indicate that it was taken from a fine top garment, something that is far too precious to throw away even if certain part is torn.
This is a hat for the new born baby, a blessing from the mother.
Three different fruits are embroidered on the top of the hat (click on the links for more stories about the symbolism);
Peach – symbolizes longevity,
Promegranate – symbolizes fertility,
Buddha’s Finger – symbolizes happiness.
Embroidered n the back flap are the symbols of;
the word “壽” – longevity,
卐 – “Swastika” – luck,
Double Bat – double blessing.
All the good thoughts from the mother to the child.
This is fine piece of embroidery on silk.
A corner is trimmed back on this perfect square, a minimal cutting for the costume.
A Du Dou, a traditional undergarment.
The curve is placed on the collar with a string tied around the neck, strings from the two diagonal corners tied around the body.
Chrysanthemum and peony flowers are the theme of the embroidery, symbolizing happiness and wealth.
Here is a demonstration of how this is worn.