Traditional Bojagi, or wrapping cloths. Left, antique ramie chogakbo (patchwork bojagi), collection of Dr. Hur Dong Hwa. Right, Antique ramie chogakbo, collection of Soon Hee Kim.
What is Bojagi?
Bojagi (Bo-Jah-ki), or wrapping cloth, is the ancient Korean folk tradition of making pieced textiles for both everyday and ceremonial use. Originally made by anonymous housewives to fulfill a practical need along with an artistic impulse, Bojagi and it’s techniques have recently gained attention outside of Korea due to the increasing interest in the value of handmade items, as well the use of recycled materials and the politics of sustainability in textiles and contemporary art.
From traditional women’s work to contemporary sustainable textiles, bojagi works include delicately pieced and hand-stitched traditional bojagi, reinterpreted bojagi, wearable pieces, installations, and wall hangings. This uniquely Korean folk art from anonymous ancestors has evolved from functional work into a contemporary art form that is embraced worldwide.
Since the late 14th century, every household, from the royal palace to the thatched-roof hut in a mountain village, has found these wrapping cloths indispensable. The tradition of making and using bojagi was established during the Josun Dynasty (1392 – 1910) when women were restricted from leaving their households. To spend the long, tedious hours of the day, girls were taught to sew at age ten, and needlework became a big part of their lives as they moved into adulthood. This folk art tradition was the only escape from the sequestered lifestyle of Korean women, and provided them with an artistic outlet for creative expression.
The Korea Bojagi Forum, Bojagi-The Living Traditon, is a biennial conference joining scholars, artists, collectors, and other lovers of textiles in a 4-day experience that includes lectures, workshops, exhibits of traditional and contemporary textile art, and a cultural tour of the conference location. An additional 3-day cultural tour is also offered.
Contemporary Bojagi Interpretations
Conference Organizer and Chief Exhibition Curator:
Chunghie Lee, Critic, Textile Department Rhode Island School of Design, .P.O. Box 1033, Providence, RI 02902, U.S.A., + 1-703-209-9585; #901, Imkwang Apt. 101 Dong, Donggoro, Sudaemoon-ku, Seoul, Korea + 82-02-2602-6959,010-4333-6959;
2016 Korea Bojagi Forum Coordinator:
Haehong Chang, Textile Artist, Director of Complex Art Space, Haenggungjae Gallery, Suwon.
Learn how to wrap a Bojagi here: Bojagi Wrapping