Chinese Knotting: The Chinese Button Knot

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This is my favourite knot because it is both functionally useful and truly decorative. Also, there are a number of ways to finish tightening the knot making it quite flexible as well. It is called by a plethora of different names, but the one I am using is "The Chinese Button Knot" or sometimes just "The Button Knot". There has been some confusion over which knot is actually the Chinese Button Knot, but most of my Chinese language knot books describe this one. The other one that many English language knot books describe as the Chinese button knot I will designate "The Pyjama Button Knot". The Button Knot can be extended in length with a simple formula, but I have never seen instructions for more than the Double Button. While tying some of the higher order versions of the Button Knot you will begin to understand why some people make no distinction between braiding and knotting.

Once tied, the knot can be stitched by the cord ends to a garment to begin life as a button (with a matching loop of cord to serve as the button loop). Simple and austere, this is how it works for most martial arts uniforms. What you do with the cord ends can range from simple knots to elaborate wired, couched, coiled and tasseled designs.

A computer readable model of the Chinese Button Knot (in Stereolithography (STL, .stl) format) has been made available by Carlo H. Séquin. Who has sculpted a few versions in metal and plastic.


Chen 1: Chinese Button Knot (紐扣, 纽扣) [niǔkòu] (1)
Ruri-Ishikawa: 玉結び (たま むすび) [tama musubi] (1)
Korean: Lotus Bud Knot (연봉매듭) [yeonbong] (1)
Ashley: #599 Chinese Button Knot, #787 sailor's knife lanyard knot, marlingspike lanyard knot, single strand diamond knot, two strand diamond knot, bosun's whistle knot
Jack Keene Boy Scout's Friendship Knot

Translation Notes

Lydia Chen, whom we usually use as the official word on Chinese knotting names the Chinese button knot (鈕扣, niǔ kòu, 钮扣) which machine translates to English as "Buttons" versus the machine translation from English of "button" (按鈕). Interestingly, the knot is also called 紐扣 (niǔkòu, 纽扣) by Classical Chinese Knotting and others. A quick non-exhaustive survey of my Chinese books puts it at about 50/50 using 鈕扣 vs 紐扣. It's not a simplified versus traditional issue. The interesting part is that both machine translate as "button" and both are pronounced exactly alike. Asking my dad (the mathematician) he says the radical for 鈕 is "gold" () and the radical for 紐 is silk (), so the implication is that while both mean "button" the buttons are of different materials, one hard, the other fabric.

The Japanese (玉結び: (タマ)(たま)(tama) 結び(ムスビ)(むすび)(musubi)) is interesting in as much in Chinese pretty much means "jade", but Google Translate has a massive list of translation options including "jade", "ball", "coin" and "bullet".

The Korean (연봉매듭, yeonbong) official translation is "lotus bud knot" although it machine translates as "salary knot".

Similar Knots

How To

1. chinese button knot 1sl. small loop chinese button knot 1nl. no loop chinese button knot 1f. flat chinese button knot 1m2. 1m3.  1x2. 2.  3. 4.

General Tips

Button Knot

Chinese Button Knot The unadorned single button knot is all that most books teach and all that most people will need, but what would be the fun in stopping there? This first tying method is easily extended and the logical starting point for detailed instructions. This one knot can be tighten into a variety of configurations: the knot with a big loop, the knot with a small loop, the knot with no top loop, and flat.

Button Knot Tied with One Working End

Occasionally, in the midst of a compound knot design, the need may arise for a button knot in a single cord after some other knots have already been tied. At that point, instead of 2 working ends, consider yourself to have 1 working end and one fixed end. With some experimentation I have generated these detailed instructions.

Button Knot Tied with Short Working Ends

Occasionally, in the midst of a compound knot design, you'll find yourself running short of working length. In that case, I would use this method.

Double Button Knot

Not as obviously flexible and useful as the basic (single) Chinese Button Knot, instructions for the Double Button Knot are a much rarer find in literature, but if you've learned the first method for tying the basic Chinese Button Knot then the double version should be easy...

n Button

As you progress from the button through to the 4 button, the pattern of how to make a knot as large as one has the patience for should become clear.


Creation Date: Fri Apr 26 23:41:16 PDT 2002
Last Modified: Sunday, 20-Jun-2010 00:40:46 UTC
Page accessed at local time: Sunday, 14-Jul-2024 15:09:53 UTC