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HISTORY OF TEMARI


Origin of Temari


Temari means Hand (te) Ball (mari) in Japanese.

The Japanese traditional Temari originates, like many other things, from China, dating back about 1500 years ago. Back in those days, Temari was made from deer hide and used by nobles to play ball games, "Kemari", (Kick ball). The game is played as male nobles kick up the ball in the air and pass it around between players, making sure it does not touch the ground. This ball game can still be seen at yearly events in some old shrines in Kamakura or Kyoto.
As time passes, method of ball game changed from kicking to throwing it up in the air and by 1300 A.D, this trend is established. Temari appears in many historical literature, drawing and folk songs.
The material of ball changed from hide to silk thread in around 1600-1700 A.D, in the era of Tokugawa Shogunate. The maids in the Palace used crumbled sea shells such as clam or sand as the core, wrap them round with cotton and embroided them with colourful silk threads which they competed their techniques on. The princesses took the Temari with them after the marriage as a good luck charm to "fit round" in their new home peacefully. Hence Temari in some places are still called Lord Mari or Princess Mari.


From Nobles to Commoners

Temari remained among Upper class for more than 1000 years. It spreaded down to commoners in 1700 A.D., around the same time as start of cotton cultivations. This meant that the people of lower class can get hold of cotton easily. (Until then, cotton was expensive and luxurious imported products and commoners used linen as their fabric). In lower class, the mothers and grandmothers used to make for toddlers' toy.
The core of the Temari varied depending on their life style. In the area where sericulture was popular, they used cocoon waste; in the sea side, sea weed or sea sponge; in farming villages, they might have used chaff or any old bits of fabrics. They used those materials as core and finished Temari with few colourful threads.
The pattern of Temari varies from location to location. In South Islands (Okinawa, Amami and such), they used combination of star, triangle and straight lines which acted as aTalisman. The old Temari in Okinawa used butterfly pattern which is the same pattern as the 88 years old celebration in China.


Temari in present days

The Temari was popular upto after the World War. As rubber balls became popular, Temari culture has gone out of fashion. Now, Temari culture remains as traditional artifact and Japanese uses them as ornaments and gifts. It is a popular souvenir for foregin visitors and a perfect gift as a good luck charm for occasions such as new house, new baby (girl), wedding, graduation, birthdays and other anniversaries.