I believe that history is fascinating and incredibly important. My grandparents always used storytelling to teach me when I was growing up, and to educate me about why I was who and where I was, because of what my ancestors had experienced. My grandfather's knowledge of the history of all Native American people, but most specifically our line of Creek Indians, and my grandmother's deep interests in her own and other's cultural practices (her bloodline is directly from the UK, and she was a missionary for years in Alaska, Russia, and Jamaica, picking up rituals and pieces she was taught along the way) formed me into a person who quickly drew lines between objects and sentiment. Every detail carved into a wooden piece of furniture, at one time, had on it the hand of an artist with a picture in his head.
I became a child who was fascinated with antiques and what I now know was product design- pieces created to serve a very specific purpose, and at a certain time in history. Moving forward twenty-ish years, in 2018, I stumbled upon a photo of this beautiful little fabric wrapped gift box in Japan. I thought it was perfect looking, and quickly fell into a deep hole of fascination and research, only to resurface with an exciting new practice and hope for a better, cleaner future.
A Brief History
Furoshiki, translated furo (bath) shiki (spread), originated in Japan near 700 BC; though during this time, the fabric wrap was called a tsutsumi, meaning “present”, “wrapping”, or “package”. At its conception, it was used mainly to protect valuable goods, or precious things found in the temple. Little by little, it became more widely used as a way to carry personal belongings, and most commonly, clothes.
During the Muromachi period (roughly 1336-1573), a Shogun erected a bathhouse in Kyoto, and invited many samurai to join him. To ensure that no person confused their kimono with another, everyone wrapped their clothes in furoshiki wraps, each made unique with a family crest or an identifying knot tied on top. Because of this, the use of Furoshiki spread publicly, and people began using the wrap to transport an assortment of things: from food, bottles, personal items and clothes, to gifts and delicate items. Furoshiki became commonly used as multi purpose carrying bags.
The emergence of the Furoshiki in popular culture came again during and after WWII, when Japan was seeing a tremendous need for rationing and sustainability, alike to other countries affected. For similar reasons, in 2006, the Japanese Minister of the Environment promoted the use of Furoshiki in efforts to minimize the use of plastic, and increase awareness of environmentally friendly sustainability.
Now, Furoshiki is a staple to environmentally friendly wardrobes-being used by both men and women as re-usable gift wrapping, carries for lunch boxes, multi-use bags, and even aprons or hair wraps. This simple, incredible piece of design that was created *almost 3,000 years ago* is still helping us with our problems today.
Not to mention, I also do believe that in the next few years, this practice will come into vogue, because I noticed Kim Kardashian used furoshiki to wrap her Christmas gifts last year, as well as a luxury brand tried to culturally appropriate this practice and sell it as their own product design earlier this year, but I'm not mentioning any names. 🌞
The most common sizes are 50x50cm, or 70x70cm, which are the two options we offer here in our store.
Here are some of our most commonly used folding techniques: