Special Exhibition

In Aomori prefecture, there were sheeting cloths called BODO or BODOKO which were made by the technique of sewing many pieces of hemp and cotton cloths from the clothing once worn by the ancestors for generations and generations.

BODOKO were used as sheets to lie on during the night spread over the straw or dry leaves on the floor, and oftentimes were also used during childbirth as the sheet for the baby to be delivered on. Receiving the baby with the multi-layered cloths which had been once worn by long dead ancestors was literally to carry the message to the baby that they were not delivered alone.

We as individuals do not stand on our own. We are here through our parents, grandparents, and all the ancestors that existed before us. We could easily trace back to more than 1,000 lives of our ancestors through the past 10 generations. BODOKO had always reminded us that we would not be standing here right now if even just one person had been missing from that family line. Childbirth is accompanied with infinite cycles of life and death. The new born baby delivered on the BODOKO receives unspoken blessings and messages such as gYou are and will never be alone. Look at this BODOKO that holds you, you are protected among the all-embracing descendantfs family bonds. You are now officially part of us. Welcome!h BODOKO stands for the full realization of one motherfs earnest wishes for the baby that is blessed into this world, and the prayers of silent hopes from all the ancestors who would welcome this babyfs new arrival into the eternal lifeline of its proud family lineage.

BODOKO remembers sweat, blood, tears and birth fluids of all the mothers throughout the generations. The new born baby was first wrapped with this BODOKO, and then loaned the clothing of the healthy elders of the village, with a wish of the same longevity of those elders.

For the numerous times people in Aomori prefectures had struggled from poor harvests or famine: small children were always vulnerable and first to be affected. Compassion toward life became more prominent in such a harsh environment. They took the ashes from the bottom of the iron pot that was hung around the fire pit, and rubbed the ashes onto the babyfs soft forehead. As you can see from the structure of the old traditional houses, the pillars or beams that are covered with the ashes from the fire pit are usually strong and durable. Rubbing the ashes onto the babyfs forehead was a symbol of parents wishing for the baby to be as strong and durable as the pillars and beams are.

BODOKO had always been there closest to the families. People have survived through the severe cold winters of Aomori prefecture with BODOKO for many generations. BODOKO for sure have been carved with the memories of the lives and the love of the everlasting family linage. Today BODOKO stands proudly in front of our eyes with much awe and inspiration.

We exhibit not only the collection of Mr. Chuzaburo Tanaka, but also the valuable BODOKO collected by Mr. Toshio Kojima (Gallery Kojima) and Ms. Sayomi Okamune (Art gallery Hagisha). The stunning world of art unexpectedly created on the cheap shabby clothes: I hope you enjoy what is the opposite of todayfs consumer culture.

“Museum of Textile Arts and Ukiyo-e” AMUSE MUSEUM
Director & Chief Curator Kiyoshi Tatsumi

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