We proudly present the second installment of our Another Collection Illustrated. This time we collaborated with the very talented Tavan Maneetapho, who created four beautiful illustrations based on several Boro cloths we have in our collection. Tavan is an animator and illustrator currently finishing up her third year at Kingston University, London. She combines traditional and digital techniques and tends to draw inspiration from her Asian background. The culture and symbolism in Thailand can often be mystical and alluring and definitely filters through to her work. She tries to communicate these ideas using imagery only and hopes that they are thus understood universally. The good things in life for her are reading a good comic in the sun, drawing with ink, drawing girls, longboarding and books by Douglas Coopland. We are extremely happy with her beautiful and slightly creepy interpretations of the Japanese cloths, which in our eyes are the perfect hybrid of pure craftsmanship and utmost aesthetica.
— As published in Journal de Nîmes No 10 —
Boro is the Japanese word meaning ‘tattered rags’ and it is the term used to describe patched and repaired cotton bedding and clothing, used much longer than the normal expected life cycle. Like early North American patchwork quilts, a boro textile reveals much about the particular Japanese family’s lifeline that used the cloth. Starting somewhere in the 17th century, the penny-wise Japanese rural wife repaired the family’s sleeping futon covers, farmers vests, fishermen’s coats and even mosquito netting again and again by ‘boro’ patching fabric scraps over thin areas and holes in the fabric.
The diversity of patches on any given piece is a veritable encyclopedia of hand loomed cotton indigo from old Japan. In most cases, the beautiful arrangement of patches and mending stitches is borne of necessity and happenstance, and was not planned by the maker. Imagine that boro textiles were stitched in the shadows of farmhouses, often at night by the light of one dim andon, on the laps of farm women. This unselfconscious creative process has yielded hand-made articles of soulful beauty, each of which calls upon to be recognized and admired as more than the utilitarian cloth they were intended to be.
Today international collectors regard boro textiles as uniquely Japanese and striking examples of a bygone and lost folk craft. At the time when Japan was struggling to recover from the devastation of the Second World War, the Japanese regarded boro textiles with great shame in that these utilitarian textiles served as an open reminder of Japan’s impoverished past. Currrently, these same textiles are cherished and collected for the stories they tell and the windows they open into Japanese folk culture and history. And even today the tradition leaves its mark. Ralph Lauren was inspired by the boro-tradition in creating his Blue Label line, and Yoshiko Wada has written an insightful book on it plus teaches workshops based on its principles.