These stunning embroidered balls called “temari” were made by the prodigiously nimble fingers of a 92-year-old grandmother in Japan. Although she only learned this elaborate skill in her sixties, she has since created nearly 500 unique designs that have been photographed by her granddaughter NanaAkua. Impressive does not even begin to describe this feat of dexterity, imagination and keen eyesight. The difficult process of becoming a recognized temari craftsman in Japan is tedious and requires specific training and testing. This grandmother must certainly be one motivated and talented woman. And if that was not enough to garner your complete admiration, she now volunteers every week teaching others how to make their own temari.
Temari, meaning “hand ball” in Japanese, are embroidered toy balls fashioned from the silk scraps of old kimonos. This traditional folk art originated in China and made its way to Japan some time in the 7th century. The stitching, which was originally for function alone, became increasingly intricate until temari transcended the role of plaything and developed into a veritable art form. Japanese aristocratic women even participated in temari embroidering competitions.