Notes:... that is certainly not the case when it comes to samurai armour!

The agemaki knots on the chest and back of a suit of armour, were actually functional, not decorative knots. Some of the lacing from pieces of armour would be attached to the agemaki, helping to stabilize them.

Text: samurai armour for man and boy

samurai armour with a number of knots hanging on it

Annotations: Images of samurai armour are easy to come by on the 'net. The second one (and possibly the first) are from Winter Japanese Art.

If you want to know more about samurai armour and the cords that bind them together, you'll want to have a look at Samurai Undressed by Jacqui Carey. It's out of print now, so interlibrary loan is likely your best bet..

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Notes: The Japanese aesthetic is much less exuberant. It is sometimes characterized as simple or peaceful, although....

Text: 仕覆 (shifuku, tea bag knots)

tea bag tied with an iris knot

Annotations: I'm going to get all pedantic here because I need reminding myself regularly and I don't think it will hurt you... 8)

仕覆 is Kanji(漢字), Chinese style ideographs (characters). Note: If ever you're looking at text that looks Chinese but see this の swoopy thing, it is a dead give away that you are looking at Japanese and not Chinese.

shifuku is Romanji, Japanese rendered in Roman (Latin) characters.

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Notes: Clothing, sedan chairs (or palanquins), jewelry, accessories, etc, etc. Nothing could not be improved by a good tassel, especially one with knots. This is a “bai” (tribe) wedding collar.

Text: and everything in between

knotted tasseled bai wedding collar

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Notes: They also decorated everything that didn’t move: room screens, chairs or thrones, all kinds of furniture were fair game for knotted tassels

Text: Everything that Didn’t

image of a tassel hanging from a wall screen

Annotation: Scanned from Lydia Chen's Chinese Knotting 3, the image is one of the imperial throne room with the gilded furniture further decorated with knotted tassels. The picture is a little grainy and low contrast, so I highlighted the knots.

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Notes: In China they put knotted tassels on every thing that moved. Weapons, fans, the scholar’s scepter, and musical instruments were often decorated thusly.

Text: Asian Knots... Everything that moved

woman in martial arts pose with a tasseled Chinese sword

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Notes: The Pan Chang knot (also known as the Endless knot or the Mystic knot) is one of the eight buddhist treasures. It represents the endless cycle of life, the infinite wisdom of Buddha, the duality (yin and yang) of existence, and is also a symbol of balance and harmony.

Additionally, from older traditions, knots are thought to be where gods dwell and as a result bring good luck. It is for this reason that monks would wear knots and knots are hung in temples.

shutara: “flower knots”. knots are where the gods dwell, and knots hung in a room will drive away evil spirits and invite good fortune. Shutara were hung on a monk’s shoulders over the formal surplice to ensure that the words of the sutras would not be dispersed.

Text: The endless knot is one of the eight buddhist treasures.

The gods are said to dwell in knots.

the endless knot, one of the 8 Buddhist treasures

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Notes: The histories of Japan clearly record the wrapping of a gift from China to the Japanese Emperor in 607CE which so impressed him with its elegance that it gave rise to the art of mizuhiki. Hanamusubi is obviously an art closely related to mizuhiki, although hanamusubi’s rise is closely tied to the introduction of Buddhism (in the 6th century, gaining mass acceptance closer to the 8th century)

Text: Chinese gift to the Japanese Emperor in 607CE gives rise to the arts of mizuhiki and hanamusubi.

Notes: Cord braiding and silk knotting arrived with the Chinese Lolang colony in northwestern Korea in approximately 10 BCE. Integration of decorative knots as a part of traditional Korean dress seems to have happened during the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE - 668 CE). Decorative knotting evolved in the hands of fishermen and textile artisans in the general population until the late 19th-early 20th centuries when royal norigae artisans under pressure to create newer, different, better, and more did exactly that.

Text: Cord and knot arts arrived with a Chinese colony in Korea in 10 BCE.

Maedup flowered under the royal norigae artisans in the late 19th-early 20th centuries.

a Korean dress (hanbok) tie pendant, norigae

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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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The second slide deals with knots as recorded history. Immediately the problem of researching the provenance of the images rears it's ugly head, but at least I found one. Have fun following the links! 8)


Hey, blog posts can be book pages. Will have to try that....

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