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Wrapping cloth (bojagi), approx. 1950–1960

Wrapping cloth (bojagi), approx. 1950-1960

Wrapping cloth (bojagi), approx. 1950-1960. The Republic of Korea. Patchwork silk. Gift of Dr. Forrest Mortimer, 1993.5.

This is a textile known as bojagi or wrapping cloth. It is a 20th-century piece, made of silk and patchwork. 

Since women were discouraged from the literary or artistic pursuits of their husbands during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), they excelled in domestic arts such as cooking, sewing, and embroidery. As if to counter the generally repressed and reserved nature of upper-class Joseon life, women expressed themselves with greater abandon in the design and execution of bojagi and other textile arts. Bojagi is a generic term for wrapping cloths that cover a range of uses, from wrapping a sacred text, to covering a table or altar, to wrapping the wooden duck that bridegrooms present to the bride’s family as a symbol of fidelity. Bojagi are usually square, and were made by women anonymously.

The careful making of bojagi was felt to confer blessings on the recipient. They were often given by grandmothers and mothers as gifts to their children. As practical objects, bojagi covered or were wrapped around a variety of objects. As surfaces for design and applied materials, they brightened many ceremonies and occasions. As gifts, they became treasured mementos between loved ones.

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