In kanji, ‘Furo’ means ‘bath’ and ‘Shiki means ‘unfolding (a cloth)’. Furoshiki is a cloth wrapper which is used to wrap goods to make them easier to carry around. It is also very popular to wrap gifts with this cloth wrapper.
It art of furoshiki started in the Nara period (710-794), people knew it by the name ‘Hirazutsumi’ which means ‘folded wrappers’. In the Nara period, people thought of giving gifts wrapped up in ‘tsutsumi’ (cloth wrapper) and this was commonly called as ‘Hokeifuhaku’. It properly emerged as ‘Furoshiki’ in 756.
People started to use it to carry toiletries and clothes while going to public baths. It became very popular to wrap wedding gifts in furoshiki.
Furoshiki, or the cloth wrapper, comes in various designs and motifs. some of the most popular motifs are crane, fan, pine tree, and waves. Wrapping gifts in these furoshiki with these motifs is considered to be very auspicious and is said to bring blessings and good luck to the newly married couple.
The cloth material that is generally used for furoshiki are cotton, nylon, rayon or silk.
There are a few different techniques of wrapping furoshiki for different objects. ‘Hirazutsumi’ is the technique for wrapping flat objects without any knot; ‘Bintsutsumi’ is to carry bottles; ‘Entoutsutsumi’ is for long shaped objects; ‘Hikakutsutsumi’ for rectangular objects; ‘Yotautautaumi’ is for flat objects just like hiratzutsumi but this technique requires 2-4 knots; ‘Katakake fukuro’ is the technique for carrying objects on shoulders.
WHY SHOULD WE ADOPT THE ART OF FUROSHIKI IN OUR CULTURE? The answer is very simple. It is an eco-friendly method and helps in reduction in usage of plastic as the furoshiki cloth can be used again and again.
Bu unfortunately, this trend that should have bee increasing for the sake of our planet is in reality declining in recent times and opposite is taking effect, plastic usage is on the rise. PLastic bags being more convenient are making people shift from using furoshiki to using plastic.