The art of pojagi

Jul 21, 2010

[image sources: Jung Yul Park, London Korean Links, Sri Threads]

A pojagi is a Korean wrapping cloth, normally hand-pieced together from fabric scraps.  For many centuries, pojagi wrapping cloths have been used in common and royal homes.  In this post, I mentioned digging out from the cedar chest the pojagi my grandmother gave me (top right photo).  My grandmother was a teenager when she made it, so I'm guessing it dates back to the 1920s.

When she first showed me the pojagi, she pointed to the center and said the flower was one of her first embroidery works.  I was amazed by the precise and even stitching.  Embroidery has a long history in Korea, and it's not uncommon to see it adorning household items and clothing.  I recently read here about a debt that a Korean ruler owed the emperor of China during the medieval times.  The emperor requested that the most skilled Korean embroiderers be sent to his court, and this settled the debt.

Whenever I see a tied pojagi, it brings back a lot of childhood memories of my grandmother wrapping containers of food and articles of clothing.  I didn't realize there was such an international following of the art of pojagi until just a month ago!  I was browsing art blogs one morning when I came across two separate posts on pojagi. The Brooklyn-based textile gallery, Sri,  posted these beautiful images on their blog:

And here's a video on pojagi that the Rhode Island School of Design put together.  If only they offered  a class like this when I was in school!


annekata said...

What a great post. I love all the pictures, but especially the one with your grandmother's flower. How special to have this and be connected to the art of pojagis through your grandmother.

Cathy said...

Kathrin, thank you for the comment and for sharing your love of pojagi with others!

One of my art goals this year is to sew my first pojagi using some of the fabric scraps my grandmother gave me.

red-handed said...

They have such a sophisticated, abstract quality.

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