Kumihimo – sageo (Japanese sword braid): double-layer pickup takadai braid

February 4, 2013

I called by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, this weekend to check on what Thai art is on display. I also checked the Japanese exhibits and there has been some re-location of works: there is a spectacular green kimono in ro, gauze weave with gold paulownia flowers. On show currently are netsuke and inro too, plus sword blades and sword hilts and accoutrements.

I made some quick notes on a flat braid in a dark chocolate brown and cream. The colours are not dissimilar to illustrations of similar flat takadai braids in the book devoted to the takadai braiding loom published last century by the Domyo School, a braiding studio in Tokyo. No reference was made to the kumihimo braid in the exhibition labels, so I can only conjecture about the age and origin and maker of the sageo sword hilt braids.


The notes won’t mean much to a non-braider or someone not familiar with takadai double-layer pickup braids, but basically it’s cream on one side and brown on the other; every 6 inches or so the colours reverse appearing in a long lozenge, perhaps around 4-5″ long, in the centre of which is a white paulownia flower, the traditional stylized design ubiquitous in Japan of three descending flowers from a bunch of leaves.

My next step is to convert the surface design into a graphed pattern I can use to braid it. I’ll post it here when I’m done.  If it’s a “routine” double-layer pickup braid, it will be braided with 66 bobbins, but I need to work out whether it’s braided with fewer bobbins. This is all seredipitous because I was wondering what sort of braid to tackle next, given the sageo braid currently on my takadai is about to finish. I’ve allowed myself 12 braids to be braided in 2013 and already the first one was not finished by 1 February! I am encouraged by the fact that even at 15mm wide – quite a narrow braid by my standards – , it’s working out well.


There were other sageo attached to other swords in this exhibition, but I’ll concern myself with them later.

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