Our wraps build on traditional Japanese methods of cloth wrapping which started as both art and necessity. It is interesting to note that the tradition of using fabric to wrap started in a similar period but in different parts of the world.
Furoshiki, which means Japanese bath spread, derives from the traditional practice of using them to bundle clothes while at the sento or public baths. Arguably, the tradition dates back to the Nara period in the 8th century. Furoshiki's are also commonly used to wrap goods and gifts and almost anything. Their use declined with the introduction of plastic bags but they are still commonly used to wrap lunch boxes in Japan or bento, doubling as a table mat. They're enjoying a modern resurgence with new awareness of eco-friendly wrapping! There is a plethora of videos on the many different ways to use Furoshiki. Our faves include a simple and elegant how to wrap video from Marie Kondo, how to do a Furoshiki bunny wrap and this Furoshiki Ninja! Here at The Fabric Wrapping Co. we use vintage scarves for a totally zero waste and totally fabulous way of doing Furoshiki. I always keep one in my handbag as a quick and easy bag for purchases.
Tenugui are another Japanese fabric that are often used as a wrap, but also often used as a wash cloth or even a headband. Rectangular and with surprisingly raw edges, Tofogu writes an excellent article describing some of its history and modern uses.
There is a Korean tradition of using silk wrapping cloth called Bojagi (also known as bo) to give gifts, in weddings or in Buddhist rites. It is thought they first were used in the Three Kingdoms period to the 7th century. They range from finely embroidered masterpieces to more everyday wraps made from fabric scraps, which are known as chogak bo. These were used by commoners as food covers and for carrying goods. More recently they have been featured in exhibitions in fine galleries around the world, including these stunning examples at the V&A.
Beeswax wraps, Eygpt
Primarily used for the preservation of food, beeswax coated wraps originated in the seventh century when the Ancient Egyptians domesticated bee hives to harvest beeswax and honey.
Do you know of any other traditional cultures who used fabric to wrap? Whilst these are the most widely known, there must be examples in many cultures with their own textile traditions that are perhaps are not as well documented.