A Hand Spun Cotton Indigo Dyed Boro Fragment: Hemp Stitching
mid to late nineteenth century
35" x 12 1/2", 89 cm x 32 cm
This is the boro piece that you should want to have in your collection: it is a superb example of patched, hand spun cotton with good age.
What makes it good are many things, chief among them are the texture and color--details on these two aspects are discussed below.
Each piece of cloth which comprises this boro panel is indigo dyed, hand spun and hand woven cotton, which is just beautiful to behold.
The texture of hand spun, hand woven cotton is rich, and it is this ito aji, or thread flavor, that is the fundamental characteristic to look for in Japanese folk textiles. The many layers of gradient shades of indigo juxtaposed with one another is subtle and thrilling to see.
And there is more: most of the patching on this cloth is done with hemp thread, which is what you really want to see on an old boro cloth. In the days when cotton consumption was new to Japanese people there was not a great deal of cotton thread available, of course. So hemp thread was used to stitch up cotton garments and bedding. We look at hemp thread as an indicator of age, or it may mean the piece is deeply rural, in any case it is a good thing to see on an old boro cloth.
A wonderful folk textile with lots of character; note one small area of loss to the proper right selvedge, and some light fading to the indigo dye.