The Japanese have a long history of using and reusing (and reusing!) textiles that were showing signs of age. The lovely boro quilted fabrics, made of patched and over-patched odds and ends (examples of boro clothing here), and the sakiori that are finely woven cloth made of thin strips of fabric, equivalent to our rag rugs but much, much more drapable (examples here), are two exquisite ways they developed to save valuable cloth. And the even-more-frugal weaver made use of leftover threads (zanshi)--this speaks volumes about the society!
But these seate are wilder than the boro or the sakiori or the zanshi! Seate are back pads that are designed to make toting heavy objects easier--just look at the insane fabric in the two examples on the left.
Dang, my abandoned T-shirts would have made a great seate--a colorful and useful backpack pad (although I must admit it would weigh a ton).
As I continue to knit the T-shirt rug, I think about our modern, care-free ways with cloth, which are quite new in human history. Before wide-scale mechanization, every single yard represented hours and hours and HOURS of human labor to raise the raw material, prepare and spin the fiber, and weave the cloth. In fact, even today our cloth hides hours of work behind its low cost--governments subsidize most parts of the production and distribution of our textiles, and the actual work is usually handled out of sight in other countries.