Boro Futon Covers
Boro is a Japanese word meaning “tattered rags” and it’s the term frequently used to describe lovingly patched and repaired cotton bedding and clothing, used much longer than the normal expected life cycle. Like early North American patchwork quilts, boro textiles revealed much about the Japanese family’s living standards and the nature of the economy of their time.
The penny-wise Japanese rural wife repaired the family’s sleeping futon covers again and again by “boro” patching fabric scraps over thin areas and holes in the fabric. Adding sashiko sewing to the repair gave greater strength to the material. Today international collectors regard boro textiles as uniquely Japanese and striking examples of a bygone and lost folk craft. The same sewing technique that was used to repair boro futon covers was also put into practice when repairing noragi (farm clothing). This was done in order to increase the lifespan of the clothing.
At a time when Japan was struggling to recover from the devastation of the second World War, the Japanese regarded boro textiles with great shame. These utilitarian textiles served as an open reminder of Japan’s impoverished past. Now these same textiles are cherished and collected for the stories they tell and the windows they open into Japanese folk culture and history.