Jeanne Heifetz: On Mottanai

Mottanai is a Japanese admonition against waste. Born of the enforced frugality of poverty — and later of wartime — mottainai is both a practical and ethical commitment to preserve, repair, and reuse. As embodied in repeatedly patched indigo boro textiles, mottainai asserts the inherent dignity and worth – even sacredness — of inanimate objects.

However, mottainai is more than an expression of regret at the misuse of objects; it is equally an exhortation not to waste time. These drawings are not utilitarian work garments or blankets. The labor-intensive process of drawing, although akin to stitching, serves no practical purpose. In the end, does the drive to create beauty for its own sake respect or defy mottainai?

Mottanai No. 1

Mottanai No. 2

Mottanai No. 3

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