Boro, written: ぼ ろ, is a kind of Japanese textile that has been repaired or patched using different textile pieces.
Boro derives from the term boroboro, which means something tattered or repaired.
During the Edo period, fabrics made of silk and cotton were reserved only for the upper class. But, since hemp was easier to acquire in Japan than cotton, they were often woven together to get more warm clothes. The use of hemp was necessary since cotton, a tropical plant, could not be grown in cold areas such as the Tohoku region, especially in the northernmost region of Aomori prefecture.
In this way, Boro came to mean predominantly the clothes worn by the class of the peasants, who repaired their garments with old cloth remains for economic necessity. In many cases, the use of a boro garment of this type would be transmitted from generation to generation, and would eventually resemble a mosaic after decades of repair.
(Boro kimono, Japan, late 19th-early 20th century)
Boro also exemplifies the Japanese aesthetics of wabi-sabi, which in textiles, reflects the beauty of natural wear and tear.
After the Meiji Period and the general increase in the economic level among the entire Japanese population, most of the boro pieces were discarded and replaced by newer clothing. For working-class Japanese, these boro garments were a shameful reminder of their previous poverty, and the government or cultural institutions put little effort into preserving boro garments. Many existing examples were only preserved due to the efforts of folklorist Chuzaburo Tanaka, who personally collected more than 20,000 pieces during his lifetime, including 786 items now designated as Important Tangible Cultural Properties. One thousand five hundred of these items are on permanent display at the Amuse Museum in Asakusa, Tokyo.
Currently, boro pieces are considered valuable museum works of art.
In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi (侘 寂) is a worldview focused on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete."
The characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the naive integrity of natural objects and processes.
Boro is made by hand and requires a lot of craftwork. It encloses the beauty of the artisanal work; with each stitch, the artist enters a meditative trance and impregnates each garment with his spiritual energy.
Boro is an austere and simple way to live, reuse, and recycle.
I hope you like it and appreciate the beauty of Boro in my new collection, "URBAN BORO."
Hi Alicia, beautiuful work! Really love it and I like what you’ve done with some of the katagami samples we made! All the best, Rob
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