26 A child’s sleeping mat or boro shikimono, late nineteenth century, indigo dyed cotton
52 x 30 inches
27 A boro futon cover, late nineteenth century, indigo dyed cotton
65 x 52 inches
28 A boro futon cover, late nineteenth century, indigo dyed cotton
65 x 61 inches
29 A two panel boro futon cover section, late nineteenth, early twentieth century, indigo dyed cotton
52 x 26 inches
30 An impressive boro futon cover, late nineteenth century, indigo dyed cotton with hemp thread
71 x 60 inches
Japan's mended and patched textiles are referred to as boro, or ragged: the Japanese word boro means something akin to “broken” or “ruined.” Patching and mending of textiles was practiced all over Japan, in all areas and on each of the islands which comprise the country of Japan.
The boro futon covers shown here are composed of nineteenth and early twentieth century rags and patches of indigo dyed cotton. 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 is borne of necessity and happenstance and any artfulness or visual appeal we now enjoy 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 lantern on the laps of farm women. This unselfconscious creative process has yielded hand-made articles of accidental beauty, each of which calls upon to be recognized and admired as more than the utilitarian cloth they were intended to be.