Author Topic: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?  (Read 35765 times)

Dan_Lehman

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2009, 01:18:39 AM »
Oreibasius, a greek doctor with no  known sailing aspirations, wrote extensively
about knots from his professional point of view.

Or-who?
Learning --of all things, from some IGKT member, in, of all places, Nederland, and
not Albion or America!-- that Oribasius got a lot of material from a prior source it seems,
though still not yet shown to be lifted from the sail loft -- to wit (J. Joris Hage):
http://www.springerlink.com/content/ft83233774k358v1/fulltext.pdf  -- short pdf, w/images!
Quote
The Greek physician, Heraklas wrote a brief essay on how to tie 16 knots & nooses
["and *nooses*"] for surgical and orthopedic purposes.  ...  It was found that 7 of
Heraklas's 16 knots and <u-no-wots> were still applied surgically of late, and that 4 of these
have even been recently rediscovered [my favorite pastime] for such applications.   ...
Had not Oribasius included Heraklas's' essay on knots as the first 18 chapters [!] of book
48 [!!] of his Medical Collections this work would have been lost ... .

What a timely find by DFred, of another stimulating on-line-available text.

Quote
Bowling, the landlubber all sailors despise, having had an influence beyond his
merit (unquote CLD and CWA). But well before boater Biddle (1876) andBurgess
(1884). Joe Burgess, an American journalist,  was so interested in knots, but knew nothing
about sailors that he even bungles the Bowline. Well, he introduces a mutant, a "true Bowline" .
Something many mariner sources after him start propagating and selling as part of the sailor
knot repertoire. A neat example, which goes to show how desperate sailors are willing to claim
anything about knots as their turf.
More the conclusion here is that knots authors had often surprisingly little skill
in their subject or in conveying knowledge if they had it -- whether this ill befell
them at the hands of inept illustrators and unmoving editors or what.  That "True
Bowline" IIRC was arguably just what it was supposed to be, ambiguously drawn
to be able to be seen as something else, and the inept did so.  Hansel&Grettle,
are they sailors of any merit?  -- for EKFR is a bad joke for presentation and
accuracy; and a bad mark on its publisher for so long publishing it.  Were I a sailor,
I'd not want my industry seen as culminating in that.


Quote
Or surgeons, who have thousands.
!!!?  Thousands?  On a good day, I might count my own to clear 1,000 and
likely one & a half, mostly of ho-humness (just noted in some ink somewhere and
not as quickly tossed into the wastbasket as Heinz Prohaska might do.   ;)

But it was to me & the First Quibbler that one surgeon came looking for ideas on
securing endotracheal tubes & another tube (into body); he won from me a *new*
knot, not taken further (into, hmmm, was it some presentation), and for the first
task --where the material was about a 1cm cotton tape-- a Clove Hitch, rather un-new.
Maybe his field's "thousands" are not so readily searchable, or pretty ho-hum, too.

Quote
What in fact have sailors contributed to knots in the past millenium,
other than spit out some fragmentary snippets, culminating in ABOK and EFKR?
Well, who gets credit for some of the new rope constructions and their corresponding
splices?  Arborists rely on these, too, but the source is back largely to rope makers,
and their market is greater for sailing than for arboriculture, yes?!  Brion Toss will
need to be counted qua sailor; Nick Arraya arborist -- two fellows keen on splicing.

Quote
Lot of repetitive matter, same old set of [] knots hits your face every {knots} book...
Is any field getting this very right?  Climbing books of knots are pretty much the same,
and in surprising ways ignorant of knotting in general.  --and not immune to myths.
Though they do tend to be by actual climbers, not journalists, or books-for-hire
artists such as Constantino.

E.g., I'm impressed that now, in the 21st century, I can't find information about which
of the two asymmetric parts of a Sheet Bend breaks (if one does -- which seems likely):
is it the bight part or the hitching part?  THIS would be simple to determine -- no need
of sewing threads or anything, just look and see what's busted.  And so on.

--dl*
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geminijim

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2009, 06:38:52 AM »
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if you're putting the cart before the horse here. Surely Ashley's tome didn't create the misty-eyed connection in the public's imagination between sailing and knots. Such a connection had already been there, and a book of knots of that size and scope perhaps could only have been published if it was steeped in sailor lore. For other occupations, from farming to construction, camping to climbing, surgery and even the big-top circus, the connection seems somehow more utilitarian and less mystical, less able to grab the imagination. There is a special mystique about the sea, and knots are an integral part of it. This may have been the case since the "Age of Exploration" ca 1500, or even earlier, but certainly holds from before Ashley's time through today.

The earlier authors mentioned in this thread may have been reaching for what Ashley achieved, but they lacked the practical experience and ability and maybe the support of their publishers to pull it off.

Anyway, just some more rumination and speculation on my part...

[Inkanyezi] gone

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2009, 09:14:25 AM »
Sailors have a benefit, they practice a craft in extinction. That makes for a perfect marketing gadget. /.../ You pose as a rigger, put on a sad face, tell your audience that sorry story of dumb sailors combatting boredom out at sea, tie some knots and cash. I guess I have herewith just nihilated the futility-level of my hypothesis. Well, whaddya say?

I wish it were that way...

Just  working on a book on knots and their usage for boating primarily.  But I doubt that I will ever recover what I put into it. But if the above holds true, I'd welcome any cash.  ;D
All images and text of mine published on the IGKT site is licensed according to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2009, 06:38:03 PM »
@geminijim: Nope, Ashley's landmark knotwork did not create the misty-eyed connection you refer to. It existed long before Clifford Ashley, who was affected by it, like many other knotbok authors. The question to try and answer concerns that romantic connection. What makes knots cling to sailors? If you have no affinity with the sea you will have little appreciation for the Arts of the Sailor. Charles Warner once got a cold shower when he commented on a KM article about a sailor ditty bag, saying that he kept his knot stuff in a cardboard box. Was anybody interested in its design? Well, you can follow the caper in KM, but the point is that people are potty-trained to link knots to sailors. This has been the case for quite a while in the Western world, but it has not always been so. I surmize, because I have no evidence :), and because the observation still holds in contemporary non-mariner contexts, that ancient usergroups' knots are not linked to the Seafaring Brotherhood. Why should  Lucy and her family in Africa, 2 million years ago hold that knots belong to sailors? They began the knot tying thing and had no boats.

As for the context in which Clifford Ashley was operating, he was affected by a strong whalerman tradition, best to read his Yankee Whaler to get an impression of the man's mind. He was very well-informed about North Atlantic whaling and US whaling history in general. So, he certainly knew how to present a case in his favour there, but would be nailed to a tree by Greenpeace and Sea Sheppard (to name some non-non-assertive environmentalist organizations) today had he tried to pull that stint again. The same holds for knots, but there he got a subjective biass. There is nothing wrong about that, but when organizations, such as IGKT for example, pick up "knots", then who are they dealing with? Who are they getting organised for? A bunch of sailors who take pride in their knotting, or will they manage to lift knots and knotting beyond that station? Reading the threads on this forum the answer flies plainly in one's face: knots belong to the sailor stuff....

You write:

Quote
The earlier authors mentioned in this thread may have been reaching for what Ashley achieved, but they lacked the practical experience and ability and maybe the support of their publishers to pull it off.

That may be very true and points at a deeper problem about knots. When you are interested in the subject beyond mariners, then peculiar things happen. Questions such as "what is a knot", "what are the boundaries of this subject" and "what is the essence of the topic we are investigating" come screaming at you. Now, I hold that you can have a great time in knots without knowing the answers to any of these questions. The subject has the ability to transcend itself rather quickly, well, that is if you do not get the story bogged down in boats. The earlier authors indeed tried to elevate the subject, Hjalmar August Ohrvall (HAO) in particular tried very hard, but only managed to publish in Swedish (his native tongue). Charles Hamel went to great trouble getting the Runeberg Organization publish some of HAO's work, but then you see the knot crowds ignoring it. What is it that causes such things? We celebrate CWA but ignore HAO? We stubbornly cling to what we know and refuse to be stretched? Or are we just all dumb sailors, who out of boredom do not know where to turn next? I shall leave that question unanswered here, for now, because you pointed at these " other authors". I doubt they were reaching out for what Clifford Ashley achieved due his practical abilities. In fact I think it is the other way around. Bringing us back to that horse behind the cart? Good old Clifford presented things in the way he mastered (as a genius!) and reached a great crowd. And yes, Doubleday &Co were visionary in publishing ABOK. So, he was very effective, but how does that help us release the subject from the stranglehold of the Seafaring Brotherhood?

Thanks for that interesting thought!

Joop.


J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2009, 06:43:33 PM »
Dan Lehman writes:

Quote
More the conclusion here is that knots authors had often surprisingly little skill
in their subject or in conveying knowledge if they had it -- whether this ill befell
them at the hands of inept illustrators and unmoving editors or what.  That "True
Bowline" IIRC was arguably just what it was supposed to be, ambiguously drawn
to be able to be seen as something else, and the inept did so.  Hansel&Grettle,
are they sailors of any merit?  -- for EKFR is a bad joke for presentation and
accuracy; and a bad mark on its publisher for so long publishing it.  Were I a sailor,
I'd not want my industry seen as culminating in that.

This relates directly to what geminijim notes. Knot authors seldom have the practical skills to match a presentation and vice versa. There is a long string of accidents, awaiting to happen, during the production of a knotbook. If you do not control the entire supplychain, so to say, you are done. Most industries have standards, but our field seems to lack any. Or rather, as the Computer Scientist Tannenbaum once noted: the good thing about standards is that there are many to choose from!


J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2009, 12:20:53 PM »
Dan Lehman asked:

Quote
Hansel&Grettle,are they sailors of any merit?
 

There was a biography on sailorman John Hensel in Knot News some years ago.
Raoul Graumont calims to have sailed the seas on tall ships [EKFR dustcover of EKFR].

So, yes there appears to be a claim that they been sailors of merit. Lemme know if this helps answer your question.

J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2009, 03:32:34 PM »
My previous post was a bit hashybashy, but here are the details on the John Hensel article:

"John Hensel: A Truly Notable Knot Tyer", Knot News, ISSN 1554-1843, november 1999, pp6-8.

The article is compiled from the blurb John Hensel himself submitted to the Cornell Maritime Press publishinghouse for some of his publications. Ofcourse the article should be available for IGKT-membership online, but I am not aware that it is. Try LoC, as KN has an ISSN, via interlibrary loan otherwise.

As for Raoul Graumont, I have checked the dusty cover of my EKFR copy; it reads he went to sea as an apprentice at the age of 13 on sailing ship France. In 1922 left the French army and became a cowpuncher in Texas among other things. So, Graumont has more to his knots than ships. Interesting is to read that EKFR boasts 3668 knots, which is less than ABOK. In terms of numerical competition Good Old Clifford wins! Bit stupid competition, especially when you realize that there are more knots than stars, as John Turner puts it in the first part of his famous quote.

While online and thinking about Lucy and her Family, in relation to the aforementioned interlibrary loan; try and get hold of a copy of:

C.Herzfeld and D.Lestel: "Knottying in great apes: etho-ethnology of an unusual tool behavior", Social Science Information, Vol.44, no.4, pp621-654, ISSN 0593-0184, 2005.

Great apes tie knots too, but unlike sailors, they are less concerned about the number of knots they know, seem to know, think they know or even know they know.


lcurious

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2009, 05:01:58 PM »
Knots as things of beauty.

Things beautiful often have curves, some long and sweeping, some close and intertwined, some with an almost magical interaction with their textures.  Knots tend to do this quite naturally. A well tied bowline, dewed in the first light of dawn at sea is quite beautiful. Perhaps sailors have more opportunity to see this sort of beauty at sea. When I finish a splice I think it is quite a beautiful thing with its patterns, interactions and textures. I would bet that this is so with most people. Perhaps sailors more so than others, particularly when they have been at sea too long....

Dan_Lehman

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2009, 03:28:02 AM »
Knots as things of beauty.  ...  A well tied bowline, ....

Mais oui, voici!

 :)


J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2009, 08:06:56 AM »
Indeed lcurious, knots are things of great beauty. On that view we will soon find agreement. Aesthetics is merely one aspect of knots. The romantic powers of the sea may make them locally even more beautiful, but that is not their natural habitat, it does not make them proprietary to sailors. Your lyrical account is more a matter of what is in the eye of the beholder. Sorry to bring you back to factual, nitty gritty everyday life.

A Bowline at sea is structurally the same as a Bowline in a rainforest, as it is structurally the same as an Inuit Bowline covered by snow and ice in Thule, as it will be on the moon (we think). In all cases the structure operates in about the same way. When subjected to approximately identical sets of dynamic circumstances, the structure will behave in a predictable manner. Yes, I am presupposing a lot and abundantly cushioning my statements with "approximates" and "abouts", because there will always be cases in which a Bowline may capsize, collapse, shear,or exhibit completely unexpected other behaviour. Now why is that? Because the sailors empirically figured that out for us? Hardly. Sailors, if they spend too much time at sea, will die of under-nourishment. Their maritime dwelling is voluntary (in most cases) and of limited time. After some amount of time they are forced back to a shore and grudgingly (?) become a landlubber once again. Can they or will they tell us which great discoveries they have done about Bowline behaviour? Or will they dogmatically hang onto their gorey lorey tales about Bowlines being the King of Knots and such?

True, Admiral George Nares tried to convey some gained knowledge, but did not come far. Are there other sailors with any reports on how Bowlines operate at sea, under sea-ish conditions? Very few and far between. However, after all of that, they do stand up and claim the Bowline as their King of Knots.  Why is there so little independent objective and published research? Dick Chisholm (http://allaboutknots.com/html/4_security.htm) gives some of his thoughts on the secret of the Bowline. OTOH it is not because people do not care. Bill Spence of Denver, Colorado, gave a detailed account of his views on why his wife Pam Spence plummetted 300 feet to her death on August 27th 1979 due to a failing Bowline. May this lack of knowledge be because the experts in knots cannot get themselves organised to actually perform such research perhaps? Or am I assuming too much again? I seem to be in that mode today....

Thanks Dan Lehman for the Beautiful Bowline Imagery. Shore-based, tied by a sailor, I presume.


BambooFenceKnot

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2009, 04:40:45 AM »
Inkanyezi wrote:
Quote
The seized shackle in the picture has been in use for about twenty years.

Very impressive. I hope to work on the list of knots you work with someday too.

J.Knoop wrote:
Quote
However, knots have been investigated in more serious manner from other angles. Weavers, engineers, construction workers. Actually during a visit to Taipeh I seen so much urban knotting, and even picked up a book on the subject, which failed to show a boat! What is it that keeps the knots-belong-to-the-sailors meme alive?

Can you provide more information on the urban knotting book? I just did a google search and only found 'urban knitting' which seems interesting also. I still haven't found the time for 'square knotting' or macrame but the interest is there. Ruth L. Ozeki's All Over Creation made me want to learn Crochet too. The 'useful knots' are so much easier to remember though, because the help you when you use them....

 This is an interesting thread. I had been wondering while writing in the Japanese Fence Knot thread if there weren't a lot of land knots being missed with this focus on ships and ABOK. Last summer I had the opportunity to exchange knots with a young father in the countryside. He knew the Clove's hitch as 'Nudo de Puerco' I don't know what kind of rope they use to tie the pig knot on the leg but apparently the pig doesn't wander off. He knew the wagoner's hitch (called the Naking Musubi/knot in Japan) from use in a construction material supply company but not the trucker's hitch.

  I've heard rumors of a quick fastening hitch used by Japanese farmers to tie down the plastic green houses but have yet to investigate further.

    As a side note, The Japanese Fence knot (ABOK 1445 part of it), slipped, was very useful for fastening  black shading plastic to tent poles on the beach yesterday. The volunteers helping Muscular distrophy patients into the ocean on onto boats for their annual beach experience used a lot of knots...

   Nice bowline picture Dan_Lehman,   CowboyBwl_MM.jpg. One of my knot books (maybe Duane Raleigh's book for climbers? or On Rope?) suggested that the working end should be inside the loop. But that the Dutch Navy had decided the Bowline was stronger with the working end outside the loop like in the CowboyBwl_MM.jpg...

   

J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2009, 07:32:16 AM »
BambooFenceKnot a short post on two things.

  • The Dutch Royal Navy decided that "their Bowlines" should have the bitter end outside of the loop to ensure that, when used in mooring ropes, the end would not be pushed out and enable the Bowline to become undone. Funny how these sailors discovered how hysterisis in knots operates. This forum has still figure that out :).
  • I will get the details of that Taiwanese knot book in my next post, as they are not at hand right now.

J.Knoop

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2009, 07:58:39 AM »
The Taiwanese book(s) came in a pair, as #40 and #49 of a series. As this forum does not support unicode, I will give their data in ASCII.

Author Hsu Kuok Ping.Titles: "100 ways to tie knots" ISBN 957-538-508-X) which is about urban knotting. The other title is "Ropework for outdoor life" (ISBN957-538-592-6), which actually has a boatcount equal to 1 (p107). I can't recall how many moneythingeys they cost, but I believe they were something in the range of 5 Euro apiece. In any case, they are published by: Shing Hong Publishing Co, Taipeh, Taiwan in 2001, according to their bibliographical data.

On a tangent about the hysteresis note above, there have been investigations of how nylon mooring ropes are destructively affected by this phenomenon. However, Loyds Veritas did not care to continue their investigations into how hysteresis affects knots.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2009, 10:37:08 PM »
  Nice bowline picture Dan_Lehman,   CowboyBwl_MM.jpg. One of my knot books (maybe Duane Raleigh's book for climbers? or On Rope?) suggested that the working end should be inside the loop. But that the Dutch Navy had decided the Bowline was stronger with the working end outside the loop like in the CowboyBwl_MM.jpg...  
Yes, both On Rope (1st ed., at least; likely both) & Raleigh's book have
this echo of rumor; Dick Chisholm broadcasts it as The Secret Flaw of the Bowline
(slip-knot transformation).  And even Clyde Sole's much better book (re cordage)
has more noise about the Cowboy Bwl than suits me -- esp. coming w/o any hint
of the version's resistance to ring-loading (pulling apart eye and thus making
the knot an ends-joining knot), and esp. as I had some influence on his words.
Suffice it to say that for some cordage, the Bwl is inadequately secure either way,
and some further precaution is necessary.  Either can be quick-tied.
(The on-line www.OnRope1.com site has a special Knots section which has
been "Coming soon" for some 4 years or so; not sure how OR might see the
bowlines in modern light.)

As for this "Dutch Navy" stuff, that seems to be a myth devoid of reality.  I have
never seen anything from that source itself (or even photos of in-use cordage of
said navy).  The closest to the source I find is an old PvdGriend article intended
to stimulate knotty thinking entitled "Survival of the Simplest" (Sots) ,
in which the Cowboy Bwl is said to have lost out to the common Bwl, and is
in conversational terms "Merchant Naval" vs. "Naval" (common) -- hardly the
distinction OR result of the myth, as the former was said to have lost ground.
And yet now, from Joop, we hear tell of the contrary story?
(I think he wants that crown of confusion back he just handed to me!   ::)  )

Moreover, we now here that
Quote
The Dutch Royal Navy decided that "their Bowlines" should have the bitter end outside of the loop to ensure that,
when used in mooring ropes, the end would not be pushed out and enable the Bowline to become undone.
Funny how these sailors discovered how hysteresis in knots operates. This forum has still figure that out.

"Hysteresis in knots"  ???   Sorry, this forum indeed has trouble with that notion.
Hysteresis in materials is tough enough of a quite technical concept; I cannot
make out what the metaphor intended is.

I will attach some more photos of bowlinesque eyeknots from the wild .
In what I find of common Bwls, the end really doesn't lie in the >eye<,
but is drawn up out from there (unless one were to anticipate the S.Part's draw
in dressing the knot so that the end were brought around under load ... ,
but I've never seen that).  The first pic shows blue Bwl in 8-twin-strand braided
CoEx (stiff, flat fibres) rope, with the end tucked through the braid (!);
the 2nd shows in yellow PP the usual position of the tail, which interestingly
was seized into some kind of light-duty (I hope) eye (!!?);
the 3rd photo is of the more secure version of what I call an "anti-bowline",
although it has capszied/opened significantly; and the 4th is of the similar
knot with the tail on the other side of itself in final tuck, also opened.
That these anti-bowlines and bowlines should be able to be dressed & set
to resist opening/capsizing/transforming makes me wonder if the transformation
is either desired (to occur on loading) or deliberately tied (as a "jam hitch" sort
of eye-structure, in Ashley's terms)!?  Because much of this cordage is amply
flexible and not very elastic (poly-Dac e.g.); the CoEx blue braided stuff though
has a quite compressible cross-section, which makes transformation easier.

[More Bwls will follow in a separate, max-4-pics-per-post post.]

--dl*
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« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 05:47:18 AM by Dan_Lehman »

BambooFenceKnot

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Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #29 on: July 20, 2009, 01:07:44 AM »
The Taiwanese book(s) came in a pair, as #40 and #49 of a series. As this forum does not support unicode, I will give their data in ASCII.

Author Hsu Kuok Ping.Titles: "100 ways to tie knots" ISBN 957-538-508-X) which is about urban knotting. The other title is "Ropework for outdoor life" (ISBN957-538-592-6), which actually has a boatcount equal to 1 (p107). I can't recall how many moneythingeys they cost, but I believe they were something in the range of 5 Euro apiece. In any case, they are published by: Shing Hong Publishing Co, Taipeh, Taiwan in 2001, according to their bibliographical data.

I just did a quick check online but don't think I'll find the books in Japan. I'm further motivated to look for knot books the next time I'm in Mexico, and maybe even in Bangladesh this summer.

After seeing this reference to knotting in Taiwan I remembered reading about Bamboo Scaffolding. I quick search showed its more common in Hong Kong than anywhere else. I would imagine the standards for the knots are different on the highrise building but here's a page with two gif photos at the bottom that show the bindings.

Scaffolding Details

Bamboo Scaffolding explanation on bottom half of this page

You can barely make out some rope in one of these pictures on a Japanese site. Incredible height though.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 04:55:47 AM by BambooFenceKnot »