About Chinese Knotting
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The history of knots, due to the perishable nature of the media
(plant fibres, animal hide strips, and yarns), is very poorly
documented and mostly lost to antiquity. But baskets for
carrying, ropes for snares, and lacing for garments were as
crucial to the development of human civilization as flint spear
heads, wooden boats, and bronze ploughs. Wherever utilitarian
knots appeared, decorative knots were not far behind, and nowhere
was the art of decorative knotting as highly developed as in
Imperial China. A magnificent variety of complex knots ornamented
everything from sword hilts to teapots, lady's fans to temple
walls, and peasant coats to the empress's hair.
Due to the effects of industrialization & the cultural revolution
on China, the art of Chinese knotting -- as with too many other
arts and irreplacable cultural treasures -- was nearly lost.
However, in the late 1970's a resurgence of interest occured in
Taiwan, largely due to the efforts of Lydia
Chen of the National
Palace Museum who founded the Chinese Knotting Promotion
Center. Currently, Chinese knotting enjoys wide
popularity in Taiwan with numerous specialty shops to be found.
Closely related to Chinese knotting is maedup,
or Korean knotting. Of late (early 2003) I have discovered quite
a few maedup sites which describe the history and cultural context
of this art. The difference between Chinese and Korean knotting
seems to be (1) proportion of tassel to knot (much longer tassels
in Korean knotting) and (2) favoured cord type (Chinese knots
traditionally used a flat-ish cord and currently uses satin cord,
while Korean knots use a round braided cord) and (3) colour
choices (Korean colour choices tend towards the 5 primaries: red,
yellow, green, blue, black and often use all in the same tassel,
while Chinese colour choices are wider, but usually only one or
two in a single work).
A brief quote that I extracted from a an old
Korean Trade and Investment magazine article makes pretty
much the same point:
The Chinese style of maedup also looks very similar in
pattern to the Korean, but differs in the colors used and the
proportion of the knotted body to the tassel.
Of note is that Korea, like Taiwan, in promoting their culture
considers maedup to be a Cultural Treasure. In a striking
coincidence (!?!) Korean Macrame and Chinese Macrame are both #22
in their respective lists.
A slightly more distant relative is Hanamusubi
or Japanese Knotting. Hana means flower and
musubi means knot. The Japanese aesthetic being more
austere and terribly formal means that their version of decorative
knotting tends to be limited in application to religious hangings, tea bags, and
samuri armour (!), although there are
The Chinese Knotting Home Page?
Many moons ago, when
the World Wide Web was young (1994 or so), as I taught
Perl, and such, I cast about
for what unique contribution I might be able to make. Using
search engines to research the issue, I found nothing at all about
Chinese knotting and in a moment of hubris decided that I would
create The Chinese Knotting Home
Page. Without a scanner, digital
camera, or any of the other resources available to me today, I set
about creating the authoritative site about Chinese
knotting, independently and without any official affiliation of
any kind. Soon thereafter (and before I got very far), I found a
full-time job and got entirely sidetracked by
life in general.
As usual with all my sites,
they are for the most part just for me, presenting information I
find interesting, broken down in a way that makes sense to me.
But if you would like to comment, help, suggest,
protest, request, etc. just send me some email,
I'll be glad to hear from you. Most especially, I would like to
hear from those who have tried the instructions and have comments
to make on their clarity and usability.
I have set up an announcement mailing list for those who are
interested in finding out when updates are made to the site. It
is very low volume and your email addresses will not be used for
any other purpose. To subscribe, simply send
an email to email@example.com with subscribe
sitenews in the body of the message.
There is now a decorative knotting discussion list. To
send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with
subscribe knottalk in the body of the message.
Creation Date: Sun Jul 2 17:37:25 PDT 2000
Last Modified: Friday, 10-Sep-2004 07:25:22 UTC
Page accessed at local time: Thursday, 09-Feb-2023 02:33:26 UTC