Temari is one of the most unique forms of needlecraft, and perhaps one of the oldest. Believed to come from a Chinese game introduced in the early sixth century, the ball was thought to be used in a game similar to kickball, a genteel game palace maidservants played to entertain the princesses, and, eventually, something similar to today's hacky sack. In the 1600's the expansion of cotton manufacturing in Japan allowed the craft to pass to the common classes. Children used the balls in games with chants and rhymes, compared to jumping rope rhymes today. By the early twentieth century, the introduction of rubber balls made temari skills nearly obsolete, the balls were relegated to gifts for weddings or the birth of babies and often became family heirlooms.

In 1968 Chiyoko Ozaki published an instructional book on temari in Japan; the book included the craft's history and marked the first documentation of knowledge previously passed by oral tradition and family history. Other books followed and the Japan Temari Association was created in 1979 to broaden the knowledge, techniques and history of the craft, and, recently, the skill has expanded rapidly outside Japan. Traditionally, becoming a temari master was a lifetime achievement and the student worked with a master for forty years learning what she could by observation, since there was no actual instruction. If the master believed the student was sincere after forty years, they began an apprenticeship for the next thirty years making the master's patterns over and over. After the death of the master, the student was designated as a master and allowed to develop their own designs.

Historically made from old silk kimonos, the material was wadded into a ball, covered with strips of fabrics then stitched together with silk threads. It is believed they were tight enough the balls actually bounced. Eventually, the simple stitching was replaced with decorative stitches and patterns and folk art pieces were created. The balls became symbols of the maker's love and the bright colors reflected a wish for a brilliant life for the recipient. The patterns are geometric and symmetrical and often have a kaleidoscopic look; the effect may be from stitching, layered wrapping or a combination of both.

Modern balls may include bells inside or attached tassels and commonly range from three to five inches in diameter; although Japanese collections include various sizes and some use temari balls as Christmas tree decorations.
The technique for creating temari is to fashion a core, often from old socks or other soft material (although many “cheat” and use Styrofoam balls). This core is wrapped with yarn and then a layer of thread until it reaches the desired size; the ball is then divided into equal sections before the pattern is stitched on the outer layer of thread. The quality of a temari ball is assessed by the evenness and perfection as the pattern travels around the ball. This means that the wrapping is extremely important as a lopsided or off center wrap will skew the design. The balls is sectioned with marking threads to allow the geometric pattern to evolve evenly. Alternately, the ball may be wrapped in different yarns and thread to create a pattern simply from the different layers showing through. The tradition of temari is the art of recycling materials so it is a perfect use for scraps of material and stray bits of yarn or thread; the technique is truly a beautiful and unique craft form.

Suess, Barbara. Temari Techniques. 2012.

Suess, Barabara. - This site has a shop for kits and books from the premier Termari instructor in the US. http://www.japanesetemari.com/index.html
Temari.com – This site has instructions for a simple temari ball. http://www.temari.com/tips.htm
Temarikai.com – The site of the Japan Temari Association and information for certification. http://www.temarikai.com/
Images of temari - https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=640&q=temari&oq=temari&gs_l=img.3..0l10.1504.1694.0.2809.
Images of temari - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nanaakua/sets/72157617114284128/