Kumihimo – Square braid structures

July 5, 2009

Saidaiji-gumi and Chuzoji-gumi historic temple braids are square braids, originally done using the loop-manipulation process, that is, intertwined using the fingers. Because of the number of elements required, a dai-maru-dai or outsized maru-dai has been used to re-create the braid on a circular braid stand. Makiko Tada has adapted the braid to the taka-dai braiding stand and published instructions (with two colourways) in her Comprehensive Treatise on Braids, takadai vol.2.

I’ve come upon a direct relationship between the Saidaiji-gumi and Chuzonji-gumi as follows:


That is, by varying the number of elements (bobbins) but maintaining the same pattern of hand- or bobbin-movements, one can move ‘backwards’ by creating simpler surface patterns of the Saidaiji-gumi, or move ‘forwards’ to 72 bobbins (18 per taka-dai arm) or 144 bobbins (36 bobbins per taka-dai arm), thus creating Han- (or Half) Chuzonji-gumi and Chuzonji-gumi respectively.

The surface design of the Saidaiji-gumi remains intact in modern reproductions and re-creations of the braid out of respect for the treasure that the Saidaiji-gumi obviously is. However, different colourways are possible:


Because of the extreme slowness in producing the braid, I can’t imagine these colourways being ‘whipped up’ by any braider anytime soon. Makiko Tada is the only braider I’m aware of who’s tackled variations of colour and pattern based on the historic Saidaiji-gumi.


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