International Guild of Knot Tyers

History of Decorative Knots by Sho-en Hashida

History of Decorative Knots by Sho-en Hashida (1923-1991)

NHK (Nippon Hasa Kyokai) 1988 ISBN 9784140310250

[Note: NHK is the Japanese equivalent of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, England]

This hardback 26.5 cm x 19 cm (10½ inches x 7½ inches) book of 158 pages both celebrates and instructs how to tie traditional Japanese knots and braids that may be incorporated into decorative yet practical items which include: mats; tasselled weights for paper scrolls; good luck charms; ornaments for the hair, the dress and the obi (kimono) silk sash; brooches and other accessories such as those Ashley called ‘priest cords’; and the ritual butterfly and flower knots used to secure and embellish ceremonial tea containers. These contents are clearly illustrated with black-&-white, step-by-step drawings and photographs of work in progress, supplemented by 23 splendid colour plates of finished specimens; which is a blessing, because the text is in Japanese and the format is from back to front - or so it seems to a mere Occidental - and, I guess, from top to bottom too. Nevertheless, this book is an inspirational delight for aspiring as well as accomplished fancy knot tyers (the glossy dust jacket alone is a treat) and, as my translator noted, its author in her introduction wrote; ‘I feel peaceful when I tie knots, because knots remind me of the enthusiasm of our ancestors.’

G.B.