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Published: 23 April 2014

By Andy Ross

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Boro - Japanese family histories in cloth

A fleeting visit to London on the way to a conference in Helsinki left just enough time for a visit to Somerset House to see an exhibition of indigo dyed pieces.

The expensive cloth, cotton, was not available new to people in the cold North of Japan and so the population sewed older pieces together to make garments and bed covers. The cloth (the picture opposite is one of the pieces on display and comes courtesy of the Somerset House website), blue, grey, black and brown due to the laws forbidding brighter colours to the general public, came from the southern regions and was brought northwards to be sold to the rural areas. Now the pieces are valuable because they provide a snapshot of rural life, poor and thrifty, and they are very beautiful. If you are in London go and see the show which ends 26th April. If you can't see it, the library in Yell now has a copy of the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.