By Kwon Mee-yoo
Jogakbo, a 1)patckwork of colorful 2)scraps of cloth, is a kind of "bojagi" (Korean traditional wrapping cloth). It's a combination of fabric pieces in various colors and shapes that are almost contemporary. An exhibition "3)Aesthetic Beauty of Jogakbo" at the Museum of Korean 4)Embroidery in southern Seoul 5)sheds light on the bojagi that is unique to Korea.
"The culture of bojagi, or traditional wrapping cloth, remains in only few countries including Japan, Turkey and Korea," the museum's curator Lee Hye-kyu said.
Lee 6)contributed the uniqueness of Jogakbo to major characteristics of "hanbok," or Korean traditional costumes -- curves.
"In Korea, handmade jogakbo is one of the most popular types of wrapping cloth, while most wrapping cloth was mass-produced using printing in neighboring Japan," Lee said. "Hanbok has round shapes in its sleeves and other parts, so it is 7)inevitable to leave scraps of cloth when making these items. The remaining scraps entered into the making of jogakbo, or Korean patchwork wrapping cloth."
Lee explained the classification system of bojagi, which can 8)be categorized by its material, use and production methods.
"Bojagi with a knot in the center is called 'sangbo' and used to cover goods. Those with strings attached to the corners are 'otbo' or 'ibulbo' and mainly used for wrapping clothes or bedding," Lee said.
"Basically the concept of jogakbo is sewing together scraps of cloth, so it was not created in the 9)court where fabric supply was abundant. We have a silk bojagi that belonged to a princess which is made from a whole piece of silk. The trend changed over time and the beauty of jogakbo 10)made its way to royal culture," Lee said.
Indeed a jogakbo 11)presumed to be from the palace does not show much sign of wear, which suggests that it was for a decorative purposes, instead of actually used for wrapping something.
"The fabric used for this bojagi is fine and of high quality and the needlework is exceptionally 12)exquisite, so we think this one is from the court or from high society," Lee said.
Reflecting the high interest in bojagi from overseas, about 80 percent of the visitors to the museum are foreigners, especially from Japan.
"Japan has a popular culture of sewing and they are interested in the elaborate Korean patchwork," curator Lee said.
Huh Dong-hwa's lifelong collection
"Myeongju Jogak Otbo" (silk patchwork wrapping cloth for storing clothes)
The display at the museum rotates to showcase its director Huh Dong-hwa's immense collection of Korean traditional costumes, embroidery and other fabric items. Lee began collecting in the 1960s and now his collection reaches about 3,000 items.
"Under 13)Confucian thinking 14)prevalent in Korea, people thought less of these beautiful fabric garments. I 15)had no choice but to collect these before they were all sold to foreigners who already saw the aesthetic beauty in them," Huh said.
Among his collection, bojagi 16)takes up the largest part, which is about half of the total.
"At first, I collected embroidered bojagi, but soon I became aware of the beauty of jogakbo," he said.
Bojagi is a culture originated from "gyubang," or women's 17)quarters, and almost none of them bear the name of the maker.
"It is a pity that we cannot specify who the makers are of these beautiful patchworks," Huh said. "Most of Korean traditional culture 18)is attributed to men, but bojagi and embroidery were created by women. I think the time has ripened for recognizing the 19)artistic craftsmanship of Korean women."
Huh said such jogakbo 20)is equivalent to a family portrait before photography was invented. "A jogakbo contains the life of the woman who stitched it — the red and yellow scraps from the dress she wore for her wedding and the blue piece from her husband's official uniform. The multicolored pieces might come from her children's clothes," he said.
"I think jogakbo is similar to 21)geometric abstract art by Piet Mondrian or Paul Klee. Bojagi is a part of daily life in Korea and it is difficult for us to discover artistic values in it, but when exhibited overseas, foreigners easily find the aesthetic beauty of jogakbo. Maybe that is why those jogakbo are exhibited among my collection mostly overseas."
At first, Huh introduced them as wrapping cloth, but he insisted using the Korean term bojagi to better represent their uniqueness.
"One day, bojagi will be recognized as abstract art, just like Kim Whan-ki's paintings," Huh said.
Admission is free. The museum is located near exit no. 10 of Hakdong Station on subway line 7. For more information, visit www.bojagii.com or call 02-515-5114.
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Published : 2016-12-04
Source : THE KOREA TIMES
<Words & Expressions> < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
1) patchwork: n. 패치워크, 여러조각(부분)들로 이뤄진 이불, 조각보
2) scarps (pieces, strips) of cloth: 천 조각, 헝겊 나부랭이
3) aesthetic beauty: 미적 아름다움
4) embroidery: n. 자수
5) shed light on: ~을 비추다, 밝히다, 해명하다 (clear up, classify)
6) contribute A to B: (회의, 대화에서) A를 B라고 말하다, 기고하다
7) inevitable: a. 피할 수 없는, 불가피한, 어쩔 수 없는 (unavoidable, inescapable)
8) be categorized by: ~로 분류되다.
9) court: n. 궁 (宮) palace
10) make its way to: ~으로 진출하다
11) presumed to be from the palace: 궁으로부터 온 거라 추정되는 (‘presumed to be from the palace’는 앞에 선행사 a jogakbo를 꾸며주는 관계대명사절로 ‘that is’ 가 생략된 것, 관계대명사 절 에서 ‘관계대명사 that, which, who + Be동사’ 의 생략은 흔함)
12) exquisite: a. 매우 아름다운, 정교한
13) Confucian thinking: 유교적 사고
14) prevalent: a. (특정시기, 장소에) 널리 퍼져있는, 일반 적인 (‘prevalent in Korea’는 앞에 선행사 Confucian thinking을 꾸며주는 관계대명사절로 prevalent 앞에 ‘that is’ 가 생략된 형태임)
15) have no choice but to: ~할 수 밖에 없다
16) take up (something): ~을 차지하다
17) quarters: n. 숙소, 거주지 (lodgings)
18) be attributed to: ~로 기여를 돌리다, ~덕분으로 돌리다,
19) artistic craftsmanship: 예술적 기교
20) be equivalent to: ~와 맞먹다, ~와 동일하다
21) geometric: a. 기하학적인