ruyi in black edged whiteI was working on the main page for the mystic knot and decided that I really needed to have my own illustration of the ru-yi knot (如意, rúyì, halfway between a 장고매듭, jang-go-mae-deup, and a 가지방석매듭, ga-ji-bang-seong-mae-deup). ga-ji-bang-seong-mae-deupjang-go-mae-deup

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cover of the Echo edition of Lydia Chen Chinese Knottingcover of the current Tuttle edition of Lydia Chen Chinese KnottingIn print in one form or another pretty much continuously since 1981, this book is responsible for reviving the art of Chinese knotting and likely many cascade effects.

First was the original (Traditional) Chinese edition published in Taiwan (the cover of the original Chinese edition is identical in illustration to the English edition pictured at left but for the title rendered in Chinese text):
Author: 陳夏生 (Chen Hsia-Sheng, chén xià shēng)
ISBN: ??
Publisher: ECHO Publishing Company; 1 edition (January, 1981)
Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.7 inches

Soon followed by an English edition also published in Taiwan and distributed by Tuttle (see left):
Chinese Knotting
Author: Lydia Chen
ISBN: 0-8048-1389-2
Hardcover: 116 pages
Publisher: ECHO Publishing Company; 1 English edition (January, 1982)
Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.7 inches

The easiest way for me to enter Chinese text is by typing English text and getting something to translate it for me. Generally speaking this does 60% of the job. Then there are the characters that are more difficult to translate, so I need to enter them directly. For this task I like to write the characters into a system that does Chinese handwriting recognition. For this job I used the free iTranslate iPhone app and the nciku dictionary. I used the iTranslate app, mostly because I was out, but it had the added advantage of quickly swapping the Chinese and English back and forth from the translate/translated windows for refinement of the desired characters. Also, unlike the other translation apps on my phone, iTranslate allowed me to get the data out (via email in this case). Apparently iTranslate is "powered by Google" and indeed once I got home I also used Google Translate with largely the same results although there is no handwriting recognition involved there.

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Knots vs Fancy KnotsI had just finished going through a big stack of videos that I had found on youku, a youTube-like site in China (search for Chinese knotting:中国结 and knotting art:结艺) when my knot (매듭 in Korean) search brought me a practical knot result. That's ok. I've got nothing against practical things and it's not like that automated search turns up many results in general, but it got me to thinking, how to refine this search to produce a more focused decorative result? Taking another look at Kim Hee-Jin's maedup site and Korean Traditional Knots and started parsing down this string "한국의 전통매듭" which as a string translates to "Korea's traditional knot". Previously, I had determined that "매듭" means "knot" so that left the "전통" part. Traditional, eh?

"한국의" translates as "South Korea" and "국의" translates as "country". I should not have been surprised that none of the individual parts translated as "south" which is apparently "남쪽". 8)

It should not surprise you that there is a Chinese knotting television show in China (I could be wrong, these could be an instructional DVD set or a web series. Does it matter?) and someone has digitized clips for a youTube-ish website, Videopedia World.

Here's the link to the "channel": 中国结艺大全

The show is called 中国结艺大全.
Chinese knot (simplified): 中国结
art: 艺
big: 大
full/complete/entire: 全
these characters together: 大全 Google translates as "Guinness" which I find very unhelpful.

In any case, I'm calling it as "The Complete Art of Chinese Knotting".

The production values are very good here, and the host speaks wonderfully clear Mandarin.

The uploaded segments are half an hour (more or less) and cover a range of related knots and projects.

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I've discovered the youTube channel of a 60 year old person (int301) in Taiwan which consists entirely of Chinese knotting instructions. The videos are silent, so the only language issue is the titles of the videos themselves. That's where I can help a bit. 8) The following translations are not formal with canonical knot names, they're just off the cuff notes I took for myself when I was looking at the videos

Looking at the full title of a video, the first one looks like this:
五福結 影片 中國結一線生機 提供

This part is duplicated, more or less in the title of almost all of the videos: 中國結一線生機 提供

Chinese Knot: 中國結
This part, I believe, means "video" more or less. Perhaps "instructional video", but I have put no effort into an actual translation: 一線生機 提供

五福結 interlocked double coin medallion
雙錢結 double coin
五股六花 circular mat (five:五, unit/ply/portion/section:股, six:六, flower:花)

Notes: As with so many things to do with the history, development and culture of China, Korea and Japan, the situation is not well defined and each has influenced the other. That being said, it is generally agreed by experts in each nation that decorative knotting traditions probably began in China.

Archaeological records derived from bronzes, statues, carvings, paintings, and (in one important case) clay moulds (205BCE) show that decorative knotting was definitely a thriving and noteworthy craft by 475 BCE. The art developed during the Tang (618 - 709) and Song (960 - 1279) dynasties and flowered during the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties.

Text: China, Korea and Japan each has a rich tradition in decorative knotting.

girls in red chinese clothes holding knots

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square flower knot tied in white and black shoelace While the flower knot, when considered as a polygonal knot, is a family unto itself with many (many!) variations starting with the number of petals (ears) and the ways that the structural loops interlace, the basic square flower knot is also the basic unit of the mystic knot (see right

2x2 mystic knot tied in black, white and grey shoelaces1x1 mystic knot tied in black and white shoelaces In the next post, I'll illustrate the relationship, but for now let me just say that the square form of the flower knot (see right) is the basic unit of the mystic knot (see left). The Ashley Book of Knots (also known as Ashley's or ABoK) has much to say on the topic of mystic knots, but not in those words (Ashley calls this knot family the Chinese butterfly knots), so let's extract them and put them in one post for easy reference, shall we? I'm making pronouncements based on visual inspection and could easily be wrong, I'll tie them and post the pictures later, correcting as I go if necessary...

mystic knot tied in a black, white and grey shoelaces The mystic knot is the pan chang knot is the endless knot and is also less commonly known as the coil knot and the temple knot. Pan chang is, of course, the romanization of the Chinese name. The best literal translation of pan chang is probably coil, but the word evokes a much different image for most, I would suspect.

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