‘Bojagi’, the Beautiful, Eco-Friendly Alternative to Paper Gift Wrapping

Need an innovative or environmentally alternative to wrapping paper for your presents this Christmas? How about using ‘Bojagi’ to wrap a special gift for a friend or loved one, instead?

Image source: youngminlee.com
Image source: youngminlee.com

‘Bojagi’ literally means ‘wrapping cloth’, and is a traditional Korean folk/textile art originating at around the beginning of the Choseon Dynasty, towards the end of the 14th century. Large squares of colourful cloth were produced by sewing together smaller scraps of material, and this cloth was used to wrap gifts, food items, and religious offerings.

Image Source: heyeonni.com
Image Source: heyeonni.com

There were traditionally two main types of Bojagi – Gungbo, commissioned by the royal family and created by expert Bojagi craftspeople and artisans, and used to wrap goods in the royal palace, and Minbo, used by the common class. Minbo were made using any scraps of material available, including silk, cotton, and hemp, usually by the women of the household.

A video showing an example of Bojagi used to wrap gifts can be found here.

Image Source: galleryiho.com
Image Source: galleryiho.com

Bojagi are still used to wrap special gifts for family members on important national holidays such as Seolnal or Chuseok. They also make beautiful pieces of artwork, and can be seen hung in many households and Korean restaurants. Contemporary Bojagi artists draw upon traditional of Bojagi design, while incorporating modern artistic elements.

Image Source: onesmallstitch.wordpress.com
Image Source: onesmallstitch.wordpress.com
Image Source: koreatimes.com
Image Source: koreatimes.com
Image Source: Behance on Pinterest
Image Source: Behance on Pinterest

One such artist is Lee Hyo-Jae, is a Korean traditional dress designer and expert in, and author on, Bojagi. She is particularly skilled in the wrapping of wine bottles using Bojagi cloth. Wrapping an edible (or drinkable!) item using Bojagi is the perfect way to add a more memorable element to the gift. Often the Bojagi is so beautiful, that it becomes more meaningful and cherished than the actual present itself inside!

Image source: Gastro Tour Seoul
Image source: Gastro Tour Seoul

Bojagi is also gaining a reputation both in Korea and abroad for being an environmentally-friendly alternative to the use of paper to wrap gifts. Lee Hyo-Jae’s book emphasises the positive eco-effects of using reusable Bojagi cloth on gift-giving holidays. Why not try using Bojagi yourself this Christmas?

Image source: blog.seoul.go.kr
Image source: blog.seoul.go.kr

Attendees can request a customized Brew Master tour which includes a lesson on Bojagi skills and techniques from expert Lee Hyo-Jae herself. For more information on this unique experience, email info@gastrotourseoul.com.

Image Source: Gastro Tour Seoul
Image Source: Gastro Tour Seoul

Veronica Kang