Chinese Knotting: The Cloverleaf Knot (酢漿草, 几帳結び, 생쪽매듭)
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This particular knot has many names and seems to be a sequential
variation from a number of different families of knots.
I previously chose to give it the name of flower knot
because I've always thought of its basic shape and ordinal
variations as flowers. I have since decided that this is
incorrect and will be using cloverleaf going forward.
Part of the problem that I was trying to avoid was the
cloverleaf/round brocade issue. In Chinese, this knot is called
cloverleaf if the number of ears is 5 or less and
round brocade if 6 or more. The arbitrary change in
name based on the number of ears is mildly confusing, but I have
faith in your ability to keep up, even when I'm being
Chen 1: Cloverleaf Knot (酢漿草, 酢浆
草) [zuòjiāngcǎo] (3, 4), Round Brocade Knot (團錦, 团锦) [tuán
几帳結び (きちょう むすび) [kichoo musubi] (4), 錦結び (にしき
むすび) [nishiki musubi] (6)
Ashley: #2449 (1), #652, #2448 (3),
#2451, #2477, #2479, #2482 (4), #2453 (5o1), #2455, #2484 (6o1),
(생쪽매듭) [saengjjok] (4), Plum Blossom Knot (매듭매듭) [maehwa] (6)
Owen: Butterfly Knot (3)
Hensel: Dragonfly Knot (4)
TAoCaWK: Double Loop Shamrock Knot
(3), Shamrock Knot (4), Petal Knot (5-10), Ruyi Knot (如意) [rúyì] (3(1)x4)
Strict translation of the Chinese (酢漿草, zuòjiāngcǎo, 酢浆草)
for the triangular cloverleaf (3 petal cloverleaf)
or square cloverleaf (4 petal cloverleaf) gives oxalis corniculata or woodsorrel, a
(几帳結び: 几帳(キチョウ)(きちょう)(kichoo) 結び (ムスビ)(むす
び)(musubi)) machine translates as "screen".
The Korean (생쪽매듭, saengjjok) translates as "ginger knot",
which in French is "gingembre".
Cloverleaf 6 or more (aka Round Brocade)
The hexagonal cloverleaf knot is more commonly known as the
round brocade knot (團錦, tuán jǐn, 团锦) which
machine retranslates (iTranslate) as "mission jin". Individually,
the characters 團
translate as "ball" and 錦
"brocade" (noun) or "glorious" (adj). A final note to the
Chinese translation fun, is that the simplified version (versus the
traditional above) of these same characters are very different
(团锦) unlike the simplifed for the square cloverleaf.
(錦結び: 錦(ニシキ)(にしき)(nishiki) 結び(ムスビ)(むすび)
(musubi)) machine translates to English as "brocade".
The Korean (매듭매듭, maehwa maedeup) is known as the "plum
blossom knot" but literally "knot knot". "Plum blossom" is
"매화" (maehwa). I've seen this more than once, though, perhaps
it's a typo that's been repeated via cut and paste? To round
out the list of languages for which I have official or
semi-official translations or canonical names, the French name
for this knot (as translated from Korean) is "prunier".
The 4 cloverleaf is probably the most common of the cloverleaf knots,
especially since it is easy to combine many of them into a single
design. For this reason, detailed
instructions are given for this particular cloverleaf.
- keep the loops that form the centre of the knot
similarly oriented. That is to say, as a general
rule keep the part of the loop that leads from the already
completed body of the knot aligned to the top of the knot and
the part of the loop that is closer to the free working end
aligned to the bottom of the knot. You can reverse this
orientation if you wish, as long as you are consistent with
all the loops.
- keep the centre loops as short as will still allow
you to work, the petals will take care of
themselves. Keeping the centre short and tidy will be closer
to the final structure of the knot and easier to control than
if the centre loops are allowed to get long.
- you'll find that if you pull hard enough, that you can take
up slack from one petal to another. This is not
recommended because the larger the knot, the more
this type of activity will deform the central structure of the
knot. Also, you may find that you are tightening the knot
too much, so that when it is time to adjust and fine
tune the final structure of the knot (or take it apart because
you made a mistake in design) that it is exceedingly difficult
to do so.
The procedure to make 3 cloverleaf is exactly the same as the 4 cloverleaf except that you do step 1, skip step 2 and go directly
to step 3.
The procedure to make 5 cloverleaf can be exactly the same as the 4 cloverleaf except that you add an extra loop
between step 2 and step 3. As you can see from this illustration, however, the centre is
already getting quite large and loose, and if the centre doesn't
hold the whole knot will fall apart. A modification that will be
introduced for 6 cloverleaf can also be used for 5 cloverleaf. As always,
the option is yours.
This variant of the 5 cloverleaf is made with the same centre doubling
strategy as is used in making the 6
cloverleaf except, of course, leaving out step 3 so that you only have 5
As the cloverleaf knots get larger, the centers become larger and
looser, holding together more poorly. With the 6 cloverleaf knot, we
introduce the construction variations
that can be used to remedy this problem.
This 7 cloverleaf is made with the same centre doubling strategy as is
used in the making of the 6 cloverleaf.
As the 6 cloverleaf is constructed with a
"doubled" centre, so the 8 cloverleaf is constructed with a "tripled" centre.
This 9 cloverleaf is made with the same centre tripling strategy as is
used in the making of the 8 cloverleaf.
As you progress from the 4 cloverleaf through to
the 8 cloverleaf, the pattern of how to make a cloverleaf as large
as one has the patience for should become clear. Make as many
loops as you want. Increase the overlapping of the centre loops
as the centre becomes larger/looser than you want.
Creation Date: Mon Aug 3 22:40:51 PDT 1998
Last Modified: Friday, 15-Apr-2016 03:51:02 UTC
Page accessed at local time: Sunday, 18-Apr-2021 11:45:16 UTC