Saturday, July 11, 2009
Koh delightful - Japanese incence and wrapping cloths
This week I treated myself to something I'm personally very fond of - Koh, that is, Japanese Incense. However, this was my first time acquiring premium koh by Baieido. They arrived yesterday morning from Prima Materia and to give them a proper place to reside I spent an equally indulgent day making wrapping cloths using fabrics I've been saving for a long time.
Koh is a solid stick of pure ingredients, no synthetics, without a wooden support like joss sticks have. Premium koh uses aloeswood which comes in many grades. Truly I didn't know what to expect as I had only known the more common yet very beautiful scents of everyday koh. What delights was I to experience?
I burn koh in my studio while I work, it helps to create an envelop around me while I tune out the worries of the world and become empty to all but the splendor of the work at hand. So, of course, I had to try a stick while making the wrapping cloths. I chose a stick from the single bundle of Kokonoe Koh (Incense of the Imperial Palace).
At first, it seemed that she was holding back on me, that she skirted about the room fine and aloof. My attention easily went back to my work while the light smoke drifted clean, white and supple. It wasn't until, having finished and some time had passed, that walking back into the room I truly began to know her. She, in private, had bodied forth like great invisible silk curtains - full, regal and flowering in gentle cascades to the floor. "Ah! This is what aloeswood is all about," I thought. Everyday Koh is a delight, impressing the senses like a young girl, all colour and verve, but once gone leaves only a wisp of her presence behind. On the contrary this Princess of the Palace, who holds court elegantly behind the curtains of her bower, is unforgetable once beheld.
Square wrapping cloths are called furoshiki in Japanese and bojagi in Korean. When I want to wrap special things to store at home or to give as gifts I'll sometimes make a double-sided furoshiki. Choosing just the right fabrics from my collection to suit the object being wrapped is very enjoyable. Making a simple square of quality fabric is a pleasure as the textures and colours sing a solo aria. For these, I used the trimmings (cut off to square the fabric) to plait their matching ties, leaving the edges rough to create a contrast to the tailored finish of the cloth.
Wrapping becomes simple and elegant using a furoshiki. But most especially I love the way the special cloth adds an aura of preciousness to what one stores inside.