Kumihimo – une-gumi braid

December 4, 2012


Since my father died a few years ago, I’ve found kumihimo braiding simply too difficult to come at. So I ‘came back home’ today with a return to the takadai loom. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with anything too complex and surprised myself by warping up for two hours before lunch and braiding an initial 8″ in the two hours following. This has the look and feel of a miniature Japanese braid, being only 3/8″ or 1cm wide.

Background information

Source: Makiko Tada, Comprehensive Treatise of Braids IV: Taka-dai braids 2: braid 44, Une-gumi (Ribbed Braid), p.39-40.

Concordance: Rodrick Owen, Making Kumihimo: Japanese Interlaced Braids. Design 51. Twill weave with centre floats.

Materials: 4 strands per bobbin, total 34 bobbins (17 each colour), red and yellow 20/2 weaving yarn; double-layer Braidershand takadai.

Commentary:  The weaving yarn produces a very matt look and along with the simple four hand movements, it’s time to move to Imposter silk and a full obijime length! I like the fact that this is a sageo braid. In early times, the sageo served a valuable function tieing a samurai’s sword to his waist; in later times, right up until 1867 (Meiji Period, 1867-1912) when men were officially banned from wearing swords in public, sageo became more decorative than functional. The sageo moved from men’s clothing to become the waist sash around the obi in women’s kimono.

Today, sageo are either used in repro samurai armour or in the martial art of sword play, iaido. In keeping with the austerity associated with the samurai lifestyle, especially when there was so much peace and quiet during the Edo Period (1616-1867)  to the extent they cultivated formal gardens, tea ceremony and the arts, sageo became very simple in surface design. That simplicity accounts for contemporary sageo, made of cotton and silk, which rarely use complex braid structures. I doubt any modern-day iaido practitioner would adopt a sageo as complex as une-gumi!

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