What is Contemporary Bojagi?
Contemporary fiber and textile artists have been inspired by the unique beauty of the traditional, ancient, hand-patched, Korean Bojagis (boh-jah-ghee). (Read below on TRADITIONAL BOJAGI.) The architecture, geometry, color, composition, random juxtaposition of triangles, squares, rectangles, the absence of regulation, the translucency, opaqueness rendered by the seams, are unique characteristics of BOJAGI.
Modern Bojagi has embraced the design elements of traditional Bojagi in its evolution into sculptural forms, installations, art for the body, and art for the wall. Contemporary Bojagi artists have stepped beyond the boundaries of the traditional to explore new dimensions inspired by this unique aesthetic. Like the traditional, they balance abstraction, architecture, drama, elegance and delicacy.
BOJAGI (Boh-jah-ghee) (or pojagi), an ancient and dying art form, is a traditional Korean wrapping cloth (pieced or embroidered) used to cover, wrap, protect, carry, store, gift objects, household items and documents that were significant, treasured, functional or religious offerings. Good fortune (Pok) was showered on the recipient.
They are square or rectangular, and of different sizes based on the specific use. Embroidered pojagis (Subo) on fine silk were for royalty (Kungpo). Bojagis, pieced and hand patched (Chogakpo) with remnants from clothing or scraps of salvaged fabric from household linen, were generally made and used by the common folk (Minbo). The design was based on the limited colors and fabric, which could be silk, organza, cotton, linen, hemp or ramie.
Seams, color composition, and juxtaposition of squares, triangles and rectangles distinguish the traditional flat Bojagi for its architecture, translucency and drama. Marubekki is an enclosed seam, a double seam (fell seam). Gekki is a triple seam, a hairline seam that demands technical virtuosity.
Bojagis flourished for 518 years in the Chosun or Joseon dynasty from 1392 - 1910 AD. During the height of the Confucian era, (15th Century) women were severely repressed and forbidden any social status. Their only outlet to express themselves in their isolation was through this needlecraft. In Korean literature, needlework is described as creativity borne of sorrow and regret. Bojagis created by these women represent the highest artistic sensibility of traditional Korea.
1. Bojagi & Beyond ll, Chunghie Lee. (Educator, Curator & Organizer & Organizer of Korea Bojagi Forum)
2. Bojagi & Beyond, by Chunghie Lee
3. Bojagi's Simple Elegance published by The Museum of Korean Embroidery
4. Traditional Korean Wrapping Cloths (pojagi) by Huh Dong Wha, Museum of Korean Embroidery.