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Boro Textiles: Japanese beauty in imperfection

Atusko Barouh's booth, Outsider Art Fair 2019, New York
Atusko Barouh's booth, Outsider Art Fair 2019, New York

Boro are a class of Japanese textiles that have been mended or patched together.The term is derived from Japanese “boroboro”, meaning something tattered or repaired.

During the 19th century Edo period hemp fabrics were widely used by the working-class .  Silk and cotton were reserved for only a select portion of the upper class. Boro thus came to predominately signify clothing worn by the peasant farming classes, who mended their garments with spare fabric scraps out of economic necessity. In many cases, the usage of such a boro garments would be handed down over generations, eventually resembling a patchwork after decades of mending. A restricted palette of colors was available to the Japanese commoners - dyes of indigo blue, brown, grey or black .

Boro image

In the 20 century, with the general increase in living standards amongst the entire Japanese populace, most boro pieces were discarded and replaced by newer clothing. To working class people , these boro garments were an embarrassing reminder of their former poverty, so very few families kept Boro as souvenirs.

Boro image

Boro is my antidote to the fast-fashion world. The clothes can be viewed to embrace the concept of 'Wabi sabi’;  an aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism, the art of finding beauty in the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.

Boro image

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