The Art of Temari
The publication of the first instructional book on temari, TemariJuniKagetsu (12 Months of Temari), in 1968 by Chiyoko Ozaki was a milestone in documenting the craft’s history and designs. Before that, temari traditions had been passed through generations of women from as far back as the Muromachi Period (1366 – 1573).
Temari is thought to have its origin in kemari, a game played with a deerskin ball. This kickball game was introduced to Japan from China during the AsukaPeriod (538 – 710), along with many significant artistic, social, and political ideas such as Buddhism. Onna-mari (literally translated as lady-ball) was made from silk threads by palace maidservants in competitions to please the princesses. The games they played with temari involved sitting on the floor and rolling the balls between them.
When cotton manufacturing became prevalent in Japan during the Edo Period (1600 - 1868), temari making moved from the upper classes to the common people. The use of this affordable fiber allowed the craft to spread throughout the country, with artists from each area developing new designs by using materials and colors available to them.
Children used them to play tossing and juggling games. Over the years, rhythmic temari uta, songs and chants like those sung by Western children while skipping rope, accompanied the games. In the early 1900’s, the rubber ball replaced homemade temari as a popular toy and the craft dwindled. However, they remained popular gift items. New Year’s Day, Hinamatsuri(Japanese Doll Festival), the birth of a child, and weddings were special occasions that called for the creation of a new temari.