Techniques of the Guajiro Indians in Colombia
I. vol. II by
Marta R. Zapata (Bogota: Carbones de Colombia, 1999, ISBN 958-958650-3)
contains a sizable amount of field reports of l-m braiding techniques
along with those of other textiles of Guajiro Indians living in
Colombia and Venezuela. The book is written in Spanish and was
published in Bogota, Colombia. In the following we report the entire
l-m techniques of Guajiro Indians from WALE'KERU. The contents of the book may
be downloaded from the Blaa Virtual Library of Luis Angel Arango
The book undoubtedly is one of the
most important source books of the loop-manipulation braiding (l-m
braiding), containing six recipes that have never been reported before
as far as we know. It also contains a couple of significant new
The Guajiros reside in Colombia
and Venezuela. Although there are some Spanish documents since
c. on the aboriginal populace who lived in the area, it is not certain
whether they were ancestors of the Guajiros of today.
The work by the author, Marta
Zapata, involved ten years of commuting to the northeast corner of
Colombia where the Guajiros live. The topics she studied include
only braiding, but also textile handwork techniques for making clothes,
carry bags and sacks, foot wares, etc., as well as ceramic wares, used
for ceremonial purposes and daily life. The importance of these
can be discerned from the advanced age of the informers. Every page is
filled with so many illustrations and sketches of their intriguing
techniques, clothes, and lives that one is tempted to delve into every
page, forgetting your primary purpose of learning their braiding
technique. The title of the book is the word for spider in the
language, who, in their mythology, taught the people weaving
Sketches scattered around the pages of the book show hairy spiders that
spin large webs.
As for the braiding techniques, in
vol. 1 they are described with the objects, such as clothes, of which
they are a part. In vol. 2, specific techniques that are scattered
around in vol. 1 are assembled in a chapter, enabling one to view a
unified picture of each technique.
Braids are named after familiar objects,
such as maize blossom or rat-tail.
Step-by-step instructions are
accompanied by detailed and accurate illustrations that we, without
knowledge of Spanish, had no problem understanding. Initial
distributions of the loops as well as color arrangements are also
illustrated. Our instructions obtained from the illustrations in
book, were tested by comparing the swatches made according to the
instructions against the accompanied illustrated patterns of the
braids. We also made sure that the swatches showed no structural
inconsistencies. When needed, we consulted with free online S-E
translator (http://translation2.paralink.com). Any errors in this text,
however, are our responsibility.
There is an extensive field
research dissertation by Marianne Cardale-Schrimpff on handweaving and
allied textile crafts in Colombia. (Note
1) This fine Ph.D.
dissertation has never been published, and so we are grateful that WALE'KERU is widely
available through the Internet.
New facts found in the WALE'KERU field research
1: The Guajiros use both
of the two loop-transfer methods, Method 1or
and 2 or V-fell method, explained below.
Generally speaking, there are two
ways of holding the hands in the l-m braiding technique for which the
loops are mounted on the fingers (finger-held l-m); Holding the PALMS FACING UP, and the PALMS FACING DOWN. The
distribution of the latter seems to be insignificant.
Of the former, there are two
transferring the loops; you either TRANFER
LOOPS WITH THE INDEX FINGER = METHOD 1 or WITH THE SMALL or RING FINGER = METHOD 2. (Note 2)
In the records we
previously, only one of them is used in a given region. Reports of the
practice of Method 1 came from Europe, North Africa and Central and
South Americas and those of Method 2 mainly from Asia.
It appeared as if the regions where the two
methods were used did not mix, suggesting a separate distribution
This is the first report, as far
as we know, that
methods are used in one region. For a
braid, however, the Guajiros consistently use one method or the other.
2: When transferring a loop, the
Guajiros turn the palm of the operating hand face down regardless of
the methods used. (Note 3)
if you pick up a loop
either by the index finger or the small finger with the palm facing
down, you would hook it up. By setting the position of the palm in the
way the finger always hooks up the loop, then all you need to tell is
which one of the shanks is taken (upper or lower).
Taking the upper (or outer)
shank of the loop will make a
C transfer and the bottom (or inner) an O transfer.
3: In the past, Method 1 seemed to
be the favored method among the people who had braids with an
unorthodox pattern (UO) in their repertory, except one report by
Lebedeva (Note 4). Contrary
to this trend, the Guajiros use both Method 1
and 2 for their UO braids.
They use Method 1, however, only for two braids, i.e., UO (oo) (the one
with O-O transfers), the one we used to call UO no. 1, and the other
with O-C transfers, which we call tentatively UO (oc). The latter is
among the seven new recipes reported.
Summary of the 12 Guajiro recipes and
While we have done our best to
describe the newly introduced recipes correctly, we would appreciate it
if readers could inform us if they find any mistakes. For recipes for
making these braids, see ILLUSTRATED
INSTRUCTION SERIES: No. 10.
In the following section, braids are
numbered (#x) for convenience following the order they appear in WARE'KERU II.
majority of l-m braids from
the known records are of the 5-loop variety. In this reports, however,
the majority uses 7 loops. Exceptions are two examples with 4 loops and
two with 8 loops. Many of the 7-loop recipes here are new additions to
our repertory. It should be noted that 7-loop and 5-loop braids look
quite different from one another even if they are made using the recipe
with the same scheme and therefore share the same track-plan.
(Photo 1 Showing the two sides of braids. Top two: 5-loop,
bottom two: 7-loop)
(maize blossom) (Photo 2)
4-element tubular braid = 4-element round: New as an l-m recipe.
Number of loops: 4 Each loop acts as one
Two-color scheme: S- and Z-spiral and
You may see this recipe as an
application to the l-m technique of the free-end method of making a
4-element round braid commonly seen the world over, that is, exchanging
a pair of diagonally positioned elements one pair after the other.
#2. Wayanatouya (Piece of flat wood)
New as a braid, also as a recipe.
This is a rare kind of braid that
identical faces of 3 ridges with a S/Z/S-pattern.
Number of loops: 4.
The braid is
composed of two 4-element 2-ridge flat braids connected by one of the
two ridges of the component braids. There is a sunken ridge hidden
between the right two ridges.
The Guajiros consider that Braids #4 and #5
are variations of
#3, because they both have 2 ridges on the bottom side that look
The side that comes on top as the braid is braided look considerably
different from #3.
#3 is a braid with an orthodox
pattern whereas #4 and #5 are UOs that are a combination of two
2-ridge flat braids.
#3. Yaliwanasu (RAT-TAIL variation 1)
Seven-element 2-ridge flat braid.
Method 2. New
(Photo 4 Top two: #3, the third
to the 6th: #4, bottom two: #5)
(Fig. 5 Top)
Number of loops: 7
Each loop works
as one element. The recipe for the braid of this structure given in the
Tollemache Book is based on Method 1 and has O (open) loop transfers,
whereas this one uses Method 2 with C (crossed) transfer.
(Fig. 5 bottom)
Speiser discusses #4 and #5 in the
case of 5 loops and method 1 in her theoretical discourse of some of
the possible UO braid structures (Note 6).
Here, we have found the
braids that the Guajiros have been making using Method 2 and with 7
#4 and #5 are each distinctive braids when 7
loops are used. With 5 loops, the recipe becomes identical.
#4. Yaliwanasu (RAT-TAIL Variation 2)
Fourteen-element UO braid. Method 2. New.
Number of loops: 7
Although the top face while braiding
looks as if it is of a
4-ridge pattern, the
bottom face a 2-ridge pattern, the braid actually is composed of two 7-element 2/4 twill flat braids.
#5. Yaliwanasu (RAT-TAIL Variation 3)
Fourteen-element UO braid. Method 2. New.
Number of loops: 7
This braid is ocmpoased of two
7-element 1/5 twill flat
#6. Kauleruuya (Penis of a Goat
Fourteen-element 4-ridge twill tubular
braid. Method 2. (Note 7)
of loops: 7
This is one of the Trinity Braids, a square
braid; the loop transfers are (C-C).
(Photo 5 From
top: #6, #6, #7, #7, #8, #8, #9)
Kauleruuya (Penis of a Goat Variation 2)
Twin 7-element 2-ridge twill flat braids.
Number of loops: 7
#7 is also one of the
twin flat braids; the loop transfers are (O-O).
The Guajiros produce nets using recipe #7
combining with #3 and/or #6.
The sketches in the book show similar
reported in some past News issues, suggesting multi-braider techniques (Note 8).
only in issue No. 8 (2005) that we learned the
multi-braider technique practiced today.
Whether the Guajiros produce the net-work by a sole worker or
cooperatively, the technique itself requires several workable widths of
one person. Therefore, though unreported, it should be noted that it is
highly likely that the Guajiros have a multi-braider technique.
#8. Washaloutaya (Striped Lizard)
Fourteen-element 4-ridge twill flat braid.
Number of loops: 7
The third Tinity Braid, a 4-ridge flat
braid; the loop transfers are (O-C).
#9. Ko'osu (Ring or Loop. Meaning is not
clear.) Square braid.
The same as #6 in a different
color scheme for which bi-color loops are used. The method of making
bi-color loops is the same as that used in other Andean regions.
Far left two: #10 UO(oc),
left: #11 UO(oo)
(Photo 6) Top four:
#10, bottom two: #11
#10. Pototsu (Flat Braid Variation 1) New
Fourteen-element UO(oc). Method 1.
Number of loops: 7.
The braid looks very
much like UO(oo)
discusses the possibility
of #10 for the case of 5 loops and method 1 along with others in
her theoretical discourse of some of possible UO braid structures. (Note 9) While
UO (oo) and UO (cc) can be found in diverse cultures
the world over, #10 is the first ever reported.
#11. Pototsu (Flat Braid Variation 2)
Fourteen-element UO (oo) Method 1.
The top face while braiding has a
4-ridge pattern, from left (under1/over2/over2/under1), and the bottom
face a 2-ridge pattern (3/3).
The appearances of the top face of
the 5-loop braids and that of 7-loop braids differ considerably because
the former has a plain weave pattern whereas the latter has a twill
#12. Kulenaki'iya (Bridle) New
A combination of twin 6-element 2-ridge flat
braids and 2-loop parallel twines Method 2
Number of the loops: 8
#12 looks very much like
Green Dorge (Grains d'Orge = Barley Corn) in the Tollemache book, a
combination of 8-element square braid and a pair of 2-element parallel
twines using Method 1 with 6 loops. The two share similar structural
components; Twin parallel twines bind the midriff of one of the Trinity
Classification of the Guajiro
1. New as a recipe as well as a braid: 5
items (#2, #4, #5, #10, #12)
2. New as a recipe: 2 items (#1, #3)
3. Those that can be found in the known
repertory: 5 items (#6, #7, #8, #9, #11)
Among these, three items (#4, #5,
#10) correspond to the scheme that Speiser has discussed for the case
of Method 1 and 5-loop while the Guajiro recipes calls for Method 2 and
7 loops. (Note 6)
for the Method 1 and 2 proposed as possible
construction methods of the tie string of the Khanty jacket is similar
to #4 but an O-transfer is
used. (Note 10)
Through this report, we learned
for the first time that Method 2 is also used in South America, i. e.,
out side of Asia where all but one of the method have so far been
found. In addition, now we learned the practice of method 2 for making
UO braids, which so far had never been reported.
Many of recipes in the repertory of Guajiro
Indians' L-M braids are first time reports, as far as we know.
Some among them that the Guajiros
make using Method 2 with 7 loops have the same construction scheme of
Method 1 with 5 loops that has been discussed earlier in theory as a
structural possibility. Their braids make us feel as if we are seeing
the history of the l-m technique developing right in front of our eyes.
our scope of knowledge on the l-m braiding technique significantly. Not
enough can be said of the importance of the contribution of WARE'KERU to the knowledge of the
L-M BRAIDING TECHNIQUE.
Many thanks are due to Maria and
Eduardo Portillo of Venezuela, who gave the information of this book, WARE'KERU, to Peter Collingwood of GB,
and Peter for forwarding it to us. Thanks are due also to Dusty
Hellmann for helping me download the book contents, and to Marilyn
Martin for translating those Spanish words or sentences the online
translator couldn't help.
Debut of Medieval
Fragments' of Engakuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan
Rare textile treasures, some of
them national treasures or important cultural properties, mainly from
the late 12th to the mid 16th centuries, and some from later periods,
that have been stored in four special chests of drawers at Engakuji in
Kamakura, Japan, made a rare appearance at Goto Museum of Art, Tokyo.
(2006/10/28-12/3) The occasion commemorates the 720th year of the
of Mugaku Sogen who founded Engakuji. Having heard that a pair of
braids from the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) was in it, we rushed to see
11) The pair clearly
showed the characteristics of the medieval
braids fashioned using KUTE-UCHI.
According to the illustrated catalog of the
exhibit (Note 12) :
Kaku-hira-uchi Braid Fragments, Important
Cultural Property, are a pair of braids, each
consists of a pair of flat braids made of
loosely twisted yarn of white, yellow, yellow-green, pink and purple,
with braided-in cores of fairly thick linen twists. The paired flat
braids had been wrapped in a now-tattered tubular 'kaku-hira' braid of
white, yellow-green and pink yarns of loosely twisted degummed silk,
with some of the yellow-green yarns spun a bit stronger. It is
rare to see braids in such a format; two braids partially wrapped in a
tubular braid. Although we don't know what the braid was used for, the
fact that both ends are separated into two braids makes us think that
it might have been used as shoulder straps for KESA, Buddhist monk's
formal wear. (Oyama) (Note 13)
General Description of the
Here is our report on these
unexpected, unusual medieval braids, although our observation measures
are limited to the extent allowed at the exhibition. For the
images of the braid, please refer to p. 83 of the illustrated catalog
Piece 1: L 62 cm W 1.3 cm Thickness 0.7 cm
Piece 2: L 57.8 cm W 1.3 cm T 0.7 cm
Piece 3: L 7.0 cm W 1.3 cm T 0.7 cm
In place of the braid name,
'kaku-hira-uchi = square flat braid,' used in the exhibit and the
catalog, we will use structurally distinctive terms; 6-ridge twill flat
braids for the paired flat braids and 12-ridge tubular twill braids for
the tattered pieces of wrapping braids. As a whole, they are identified
as '4-layer 3-person-connected braids'.
To paraphrase the term 4-layer
Japanese medieval braids were made
kute-uchi. (Note 14)
our current understanding of kute-uchi was reconstructed from an early
19th-c. treatise. Constructing a double square braid in a vertical
alignment (a 4-layer structure), or vertically aligned two square
braids or four flat braids in one shot are among the basic procedures
of kute-uchi. (Fig. 8 row 1)
If three braiders collaborate and
construct a braid by
connecting three braids made by each braider, they produce a 4-layer
3-person-connected braid. (Fig. 8 row 4) The kind of the braid
produced depends on
which 1-person procedure they use.
It has been proven practically as
well as theoretically that all extant 4-layer medieval braids had been
constructed using one of the 2- to 4-person connection methods. We have
found that all 10-plus extant braids are dissimilar either in structure
or in color pattern. It is truly amazing that we have found another
braid that was produced using another possible kute-uchi procedures in
a color scheme that has never seen before in medieval braids.
The features on the two braids
laid in parallel are more or less in the mirror image. They both have
stitch patterns going in the same direction, indicating each piece was
made as an independent braid to form a pair. Interestingly the pair has
been worn out almost in a mirror image, which leaves us with a
suspicion that it might have something to do with structural factors.
Several- centimeters long fragments of the tubular braids and one that
is about twice as long hold the central 1/3 portion of the braids. We
can't tell whether one continuous piece of tubular braid originally
covered the entire central portion or several short tubes in a regular
interval. About 20 cm of both ends seem to show no trace of having ever
been covered. The form of the pieces suggests that they might have been
shoulder straps for a kesa although they seem to be a bit too thick for
The stitch pattern of the flat
braids is unusually irregular. We can see a pair of linen core-yarns
that have been braided in the center two ridges with the silk elements,
the short ends of which hang bare at the lower end of both braids,
having completely lost silk elements.
Because of the 4-layer structure
and the number of ridges, the braid that comes in mind first is 'the
Laces for Hanging the Amulets of Prince Shotoku (The Amulet Laces),'
National Treasure, from the late Heian Period (the 12th c.), belonging
to Shitennoji Temple, Osaka, Japan. (Fig. 8:a4) (Note 15)
Engakuji braids, however, are each composed of three separate
braids. Therefore the line of the technique that was used to construct
the Round Braids found inside the Statue of Zendo Daishi (the Chion'in
Braids), the mid Kamakura Period (the 13th c.), belonging to Chion'in,
Kyoto, Japan, would be more appropriate as the construction method of
this braid. (Note 16)
Whereas the Chion'in braid, which is a round (square) braid, took 2
braiders to construct (Fig. 8: d3), for the Engakuji braids with rectangular cross
section 3 braiders worked together (Fig. 8: c4). The construction
scheme for the
Amulet Laces is used in the Heian Period while that for the Chion'in
braids is only found in those from the Kamakura Period or later.
In this scheme, each braider holds an even number of loops on each hand.
For the Chion'in Braid, for instance, two braiders cooperate holding 10
loops in each of four hands constructing an 80-element braid.
For 3-person braiding of this type, the
expected number of elements is:
An even number x 2 (number of elements in
each loop) x 2 (number of hands for each braider) x 3 (number of
braiders) = 12 x an even number (Note
Some Facts We Learned from the Braids
1. Insights on the linen core-yarn: how the core is incorporated inside a braid.
a. For the first time ever, we saw
core-yarns that have been braided in one or
two central ridge(s).
b. Two strands of rather thick linen
core-yarns (according to the catalog) hang from the ends of the braids.
c. Only two strands of core yarn were used,
rather than they are only two left behind.
It has been known that some
medieval braids have strands of core material, but none showed enough
inner structure to reveal how they were put inside of braids. Once, I
have seen numerous ends of linen core remains from a completely
wasted-away braid, which must have been a double-sided kikko
twisted core yarn had tiny fragments of silk pinched between each twist
suggesting that the core had been worked in the structure. From the
Engakuji braid, we actually can confirm, for the first time, this fact.
2. The number of elements may be estimated
from the stitch pattern of core-yarn.
In counting the number of
elements, the core-yarns braided in the flat braids work the same as
colored elements marking repeats of the pattern. In the case of this
particular braid, regrettably, it was difficult to obtain the exact
number of rows between two successive core-yarn stitches because of the
pattern irregularity. Therefore, the numbers given here should be
regarded merely as an example.
Case 1. The core-yarn, doubled with an
element yarn, appears every three rows:
Number of elements: 6 x 12 = 72, or 36 loops
In addition to 36 loops, 4 ends of core yarn
formed into 2 loops are used.
Case 2. The core-yarns have been
individually braided in every four rows:
Number of elements: 8 x 12 = 96, or 48 loops
= 92 silk elements (46 loops) + 4 core elements (2 loops)
3. Hypothetical methods that might have been
used to work in the core:
Case 1: The center braider holds
two extra loops, i.e., the core loops at the innermost of each hand
next to the innermost silk loops. These two loops are treated as one
except when they are transferred. When the two are to be transferred,
only the silk loop is passed to the neighbor. The core loop remains in
the hand of the center braider and joins to the loop passed from the
neighbor and the newly formed pair is treated as one.
Case 2: Initial allotment of the
loops: 2 outer braiders hold 8 silk loops in each hand; the center
braider holds 7 silks and 1 core. Sequence the loops as prescribed
except the core loops are allotted to the innermost of the center
The three braiders work making
the connections. On the rows in which core loops are worked, all three
works without making connections, thus the core loops remain in the
center braider's hands.
The section above has been derived
from our naked-eye observations with rather bold speculations. More
accurate answers would come out if we had been able to observe them
under better conditions.
4. M. Omura, et al., reported in
2003 their observation of a single strand of thin tightly spun Z
double-ply silk thread run through some of medieval braids. (Note 18)
We found one thread like the one described
above in the central area of Photo 9.
Thus the Engakuji braids present
another example to the statistics on this theme, while the presence of
the silk yarn of this type among soft silks elements remains a puzzle.
There also are some short Z
double-ply silk sticking out here and there in Photo 8. They could be
the yellow-green tighter-spun elements Ms. Oyama mentions in the
1. Transition from 2-layer structure to
Medieval braids we have known
before the Engakuji braid consist of a single coherent braid. There
does not seem to have been an effort of taking advantage of the ability
of kute-uchi of simultaneously produce multiple braids. We see this
ability is positively incorporated in the production of the Engakuji
braid: it starts as two separate pieces, then forms into a single
strand by wrapping the two with a tubular braid, and then branches into
two again. It seems to be natural to take advantage of this ability for
making shoulder straps for kesa. The braids may be presenting the
evidence of a new trend of the technique at this time.
On the other hand, in using kute-uchi, two,
three or four braids are simultaneously
produced using all the elements.
Braiding only two inner braids will cause technical problems.
do so will leave unworked elements hanging around and cause uneven
tension leading to uneven stitches not to mention an awkward working
situation. If a braid is to be made against all these odds, the hanging
elements will still have to be taken care of to make a smooth
transition from the two-braids section to the wrapped section, and vice
versa. This is the first theme to be resolved in the production
2. Color pattern on the tubular fragments of
the Engakuji braid:
There are several similar-looking
tubular fragments about 4 cm long at regular intervals covering the
middle portion of each of the two flat braids. In addition, there
tubular fragment about twice as long as others. On the latter fragment,
a unit of a pink twill pattern on yellow-green background repeats
several times. On the former, however, there are no pattern repeats.
Instead, there is only one unit of the pink pattern at the lower half
and a yellow-green area occupy the entire top half.
These facts prove that the color
patterns were not produced by the standard method in which color
elements are simply braided following a prearranged sequence and the
surface pattern simply forms following the color sequence.
For switching the color of a
stitch arbitrarily on a braid in the l-m braiding technique, one would
use the method we call 'two-color loop reversal'. In this method, a
two-color loop, a loop with the upper and the lower shanks in different
colors, is reversed as it is transferred (C-transfer). This
the colors of the stitches of the top and bottom layers at the exchange
point. By this operation, however, the shanks of the loops would
penetrate through the two inner braids and connect the top and bottom
A careful observation of the close-up photo
in the catalog suggests the possibility of this technique
having been used.
This problem will be easily resolved if the
actual object is examined.
We deem that the possibility of space-dyed
yarn having been used is small.
4. Color pattern on the inner two flat
The irregular salt-and-pepper
pattern of the inner two flat braids is the effect from the composite
elements of one purple strand and the rest which may be yellow,
yellow-green or pink silk to make up the appropriate size of an
element. We believe that there is no precedent of this kind among known
medieval braids, as far as we know. The density of salt-and-pepper is
irregular from dense to none. In some areas, there are purple
flower-like patterns of which we could not tell whether or not they are
intended. No difference in the color pattern tendencies was observed
throughout the lengths whether they are exposed or covered. We don't
know how this seemingly simple color effect was achieved. There's not
much possibility of the purple threads having been stitched in
afterwards since the pattern seems to cover the wrapped areas as well.
5. About the irregularity of the stitches of
the inner flat braids:
The stitch pattern is markedly
irregular on all four inner flat braids. In contrast, the stitches of
the tubular braids that cover the surface are very regular. It is not
the type of irregularity caused by the loss of some decayed elements.
We couldn't imagine how such a uniformly irregular surface occurred on
the entire length of the braids.
The kute-uchi procedures used for
making the Engakuji braids share the same scheme to produce such braids
as the 'Chion'in Braid,' 'Hanging Braids of the Cover to the Daijingu
Shrine at Saidaiji Temple, Nara, Japan,' and the 'Belt for Wearing the
Sword with the Scabbard decorated with oxisalis-leaf design at Kasuga
Shrine, Nara, Japan.' For each of the braid mentioned here, a different
possible method within the scheme was used. The Engakuji braids provide
another example of how the basic scheme was exploited
We believe that kute-uchi made a
striking development in Kamakura Period (the 12-14th c.), to which the
production dates of these national treasures have been attributed.
The Engakuji braids have provided
us with helpful facts to long-standing questions. On the other hand,
they have brought us new questions to solve. They may be giving us
insight to the crafts people's efforts that have spurred a great
advance of the technique during this period. We are left here realizing
the extent and depth of the technique. We hope that we may be allowed
some day to examine the braids in detail in our efforts to further the
research of the L-M braiding.
Acknowledgement: We thank Goto Museum for
giving us special viewing time of the braids, Ms. Nobuko Kajitani for
giving the timely information, and a curator at Goto Museum, Ms. Rumi
Sato for her assistance and advice.
a Fifteenth-century Purse
Acknowledgement: We thank N. Speiser for this special
contribution. Thanks are also due to U. Karbacher and C. Kaestli
at St. Gallen Textile Museum sending us the image photos and their
Lianling Mashan Tomb No. 1 (Note 19)
M. Omura participated in 'the
special survey trip 2006 of excavated silk textiles from the Warring
Period (402 BC-221 BC) tombs in Hupei province, China.' She
that the fragile sheer fabric fragments on display, among the objects
from Liangling Ma Shan tomb No. 1 at Jingzhou Museum, Hupei Province,
was the fabric known as Xi, plain oblique twining (POT). (Note 20)
She also confirmed numerous fabric fragments of the same structure,
some of them fairly large, among the displays of other archeological
excavations at Jingzhou Museum as well as at Jingmen Museum. The
fragments of Xi, tagged mistakenly or unknowingly as an 'oblique
interlacing,' displayed at Jingmen Museum were from the excavation of
Guojia gang No. 1 tomb. The wooden coffin from the tomb has been
carbon-dated to 2340 (+-)170.
Xi fabrics that have been known among
the artifacts from earlier archeological excavations of the Han (220
BC-220 AD) tombs are highly likely to have been constructed using a
technique that works in the same principle of the l-m as explained in
the following. We now have learned that Xi fabrics were produced
sizable amounts as early as in the Chu period (5th c. B.C.-223 B.C.)
Xi is a gauze-like fabric made of
fine silk threads, some of which often were found sized by japan
lacquer and fashioned into head wear. Although it was at one time
mistaken as leno- or complex leno-type gauze, it has been determined by
research using photo microscope images as obliquely interlaced
fabric made of twisted threads. (Note 21)
The fabric structure basically is one end
of twisted thread penetrates
through an eye of twists of the other twisted thread, followed by many
pairs of component threads repeating the same for the width of the
fabric. For the second row, the same processes are repeated with the
staggered pairs of the first row, only this time the each penetrated
thread penetrates the other. Fabrics with the same pattern but in a
higher density may look like a plain weave because of the over/under
relationship of the interlaced elements at the surface.
(Photo 12: sample swatch of Xi
made using f-h l-m with 9 loops.)
Two possible methods of producing the
fabric, essentially the same as PLY-SPLIT (p-s) and l-m, were proposed
by Wang Xu. (Note 22) The
fabrics with the identical structure produced using the p-s technique
have been named by P. Collingwood as plain oblique twining (POT). (Note 23)
Xi, which has the same structure as a POT fabric, however, is composed
of such fine elements that it would be almost impossible to construct
it using p-s technique. Moreover, if constructed using p-s with, for
instance, Z double-ply yarns, the yarn would be composed of two ends of
strongly S-plied singles. The microscopic photograph that Nunome
produced shows that the two singles of silk yarn that compose the
two-end Z-twist don't have an S-twist at all, and instead have a slight
Z-twist. This denies the possibility of Xi fabric having been made
using the p-s technique. (Note 24)
On the other hand, no reason has
been found that excludes the possibility of the l-m or a technique that
works on the same principle having been the construction technique of
Xi. Moreover, if the l-m had been used, the cause of the slight S-twist
on the component of the Z-double-twisted yarn would have a ready
explanation. The l-m procedure for constructing POT fabrics is
basically a simple repetition of putting one of a pair of loops through
the inside of the other and then giving the first loop a half Z turn.
The pass-and-turn operations go through for all paired loops in the
width of the fabric and then go back with the same operations given to
staggered pairs of loops always giving the loops a half Z turn. The
experiments with high-efficiency 9-loop f-h scheme with 28 loops I
designed for making POT structure and its variation, the octagonal-eye
lace-like fabric, proved that the technique is feasible. The
operations are applicable either to the f-h and h-h. While this
put the l-m as the most probable construction technique for xi, no
supporting evidence has yet been found. Omura's
confirmation that a sizable amount of Xi was produced in the time of
the Chu, several centuries before the Han dynasty, leaves us with a
renewed sense of awe for Chinese civilization.
A modern Attempt
at Making a Medieval Fingerloop-Braiding Booklet
A Medieval-style Fingerloop Braiding
As an historical recreationist
with the Society for Creative Anachronism, I am active mostly as a
calligrapher and illuminator, but I also share an avid interest in
European medieval fingerloop braiding. To my great delight, an
opportunity recently presented itself to craft a miniature version of a
15th century braiding treatise, while at the same time honoring one of
the fingerloop braiding community's foremost researchers, Lois Swales. (Note 26) As
the project developed, it eventually came to include samples of four
newly-devised variations of English fingerloop braids, along with
hand-painted miniature illustrations. The illustration were based on an
initial in the Harley manuscript, the 15th-century fingerloop braiding
instructions in the
British Library (Note 27), as well as an
image of Saint Lucy making a fingerloop braid
from the Spanish Borja Virgin and Child altar piece. (Note 28)
The project is a commemorative
award presented to Ms. Swales on the occasion of her induction into the
Society for Creative Anachronism's Order of the Pelican, the highest
award for service to the organization. It is a hand-bound booklet
comprised of eight folios. It opens with a full-page painting
includes the detail of Saint Lucy from the Borja Virgin altarpiece.
Following this frontispiece, the text of the award presentation begins
with a conjectural reconstruction of the Harley manuscript initial.
After the award text, there follow several pages of braiding
instructions, directing the reader to construct four newly-devised
variations on 15th century English braids. The piece closes with four
sample braids sewn to the last folio of the booklet.
A Braider honored
In order to be as accurate to the
original images as possible, I acquired digital color images of the
sources. I purchased a high-resolution photo of folio 52r of the Harley
manuscript from the British Library, and a color image of the Borja
altarpiece from the Amatller Institute (Note 29)
in Barcelona. The Harley initial is damaged, so I was forced to use
some educated guesswork in reconstructing the image, especially the
gown of the seating figure.
Four New Braids
The four fingerloop braids
presented in the booklet were devised to reflect aspects of the emblem
of the award order into which Ms. Swales was inducted. The emblem
depicts the historical heraldic image of a pelican 'in its piety,' that
is, seated in a nest, surrounded by her young, piercing her own breast
with her beak in order to nourish her offspring with droplets of her
blood. In keeping with the naming conventions of the 15th-century braid
recipes, I used heraldic terms to name my four new braid variations.
The Lace Goutty is
a color variation of the six-loop Grene Dorge braid. It uses five white
loops and one red loop to create a braid with red 'droplets' running
down the center of a white braid. These droplets are meant to mimic the
droplets of blood on the white breast of the pelican. The term 'goutty'
is a heraldic term used to describe a shield covered with droplets.
The Lace Fletched combines
a six-loop version of the 8-loop Lace Chevron, with the addition of a
center stripe, introduced by using a set of moves from the Grene Dorge
braid. 'Fletched,' while not truly a heraldic term, is a medieval term
referring to the 'fletching' (feathers) on an arrow. The term alludes
to the feathers of the Pelican herself.
Gules Bordered Ermine connects
two Grene d'Orge braids to either side of a broad seven loop braid, to
produce a wide braid with a red stripe down the center between two
white bands with black flecks. This braid is meant to represent the red
cap, trimmed with ermine fur, worm by recipients of this particular
Lastly, the Lace
a successful attempt at joining two Lace Mascles, side by side. It is
named with a heraldic term for a woven lattice-like pattern. This braid
is meant to represent the nest of the pelican.
It was a great pleasure to bring
together a variety of interests into one project, especially one that
combined an exploration of the past with experimentation in the
present, to honor an individual who has helped to ensure fingerloop
To see images of the booklet, please visit:
To find complete instructions on how to
create the our braids, please visit:
The braids were entered into a
recent arts and sciences competition known as Ice Dragon, where they
won first place in the Fiber Arts Category. To read the documentation
that was submitted for that competition, please visit:
I am working on acquiring the web
publishing rights to the images acquired from the British Library and
the Amatller Institute. These will be added to the portfolio page when
those rights have been secured.
RECORDING L-M TECHNIQUES
INSTRUCTION Series N0. 10:
Finger-Held (f-h) L-M Method Basic
Five Recipes of Guajiro Indians
1. 4-element round
2. 8-element flat with an unorthdox
3. Tat-tail (7-element flat braid)
4. Rat-tail variation 1
5. Rat-tail variation 2
'Study Group for Replica Construction of
Archaic Japanese Braids Using Kute-uchi' = KKFK
has been formed in January, 2006. The group meets very other month
studying various aspects of braids selected as an yearly theme. For
2006, they studied detailed structural factors of Shsoin square braids
theoretical aspects as well as practical based on referencing
For the second year, 2007, they
plan to continue with the same theme, aiming at the colors and skill
training. Meeting will be held on the fourth Sunday of even-numbered
months. The group is open to anybody who are seriously interesting in
the subject. Need an approval of the group. Contact: phone
+81-743-74-6419, e-mail email@example.com
FORCAST: From 01/2007 to 03/2008
International Conference on Kumihimo (11/12-16/2007) is going to convene at the Future Applied Conventional Technilogy Center, Kyoto
Institute of Technology.
Subjects relating to L-M braiding are: keynote lecture by M, Kinoshita,
seminar by M. Omura, slide presentation by Y. Kawada, demonstrations by
members of L-M Kumihimo Group, 5 workshops by M. Kinoshita. There also
are advanced courses of TAKADAI, KARAKUMIDAI and HAMANAKA DISKS.
Demonstrations, exhibitions as well as visits to studios of
professional braiders are also planned. There is a provision of one-day
For information: Makiko Tada, phone +81-42-592-7767, fax +81 42-593-3204,
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org URL:
L. Swales and Heather Blatt, 'Tiny
Textiles Hidden in Books: Toward a Categorization of Multiple-Strand
Clothing and Textiles 3, Edited by Robin
Netherton, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Publication date: 19/04/2007.
The publisher 's URL:
This 10,000 word article
contains pictures of extant bookmarkers as well as tables of those we
found (including construction details) and an extensive listing of
medieval images of bookmarkers. We describe a number of fingerloop
braids found attached to some of these bookmarkers (when they can be
identified as such), including some made of bast fiber. We were
limited to B&W illustrations for this publication, but hope in the
future to establish a more colorful bookmarker website with further
details on those bookmarkers we studied (and continue to study) found
in manuscripts and early modern printed books.
M. Kinoshita, One-day lecture and workshop, The Legacy of Masunari Ozeki: Archaic Braiding Techniqiues
11/23/2007 Basho Manor at Kurobane. Information: Basho no Yakata, c/o
A. Arai, 980-1 Maeda. Ootawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan 324-0234
Phone: +81-287-54-4151 Fax +81-287-54-4188
Activities in the past year
Benns with G. Barrett, Tak V Bowes
Departed: a 15th Century Braiding Manual Examined, Soper Lane, 2005. (Photo 13)
R. Owen, 'Interlace
Overview,' Strands 2006.
K. Kusakabe, Illustrated catalog, "The
Keiko Kusakabe Collection Textile from Sulawesi in Indonesia, Geneology
of Sacred Cloths"
in Japanese and English, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Municipal Museum
of Art, 2006. (Photo 14)
Exhibits: H. Kasuga.
C. Kawabe, Sakai Municipal Greenify Center 03/02-04/07
Sample swatches made following instructions of 'Old English Pattern
Books for Loop Braiding' at Annual Exhibit of Natural Dye Works. A.
Yoda showed three twice-braided cushions, i.e., many lengths of the
Tollemache #5 are braided and woven to form a cushion. She used yarns
dyed with logwood and cochneal. (Photo 15)
SMGC, 06/3/3-5 Materials relating to l-m braiding in the
and 17th-century Europe. A. Yoda showed a panel with materials
relating to N. Speiser's special colloquium given in Nara, 2005.
special exhibit, "The
Keiko Kusakabe Collection Textile from Sulawesi in Indonesia, Geneology
of Sacred Cloths,"
Fukuikoa Munisipal Museume of Art. Superve textile works from Sulawesi
Island, not so well known for their excellent quality, such as works of
batik, ikat, tablet weaving and l-m braiding, were on display.
Lectures, workshops and study groups :
KKFK 2006 Bi-monthly meetings, 2/19, 4/22,
6/25, 8/27, 10/22, 11/12,
Johansen, Denmark: We have just had, here in
Copenhagen, a one-day workshop entitled "Simple
cords and braids."
It was held under the auspices of KEP (continuing education for
conservators), which receives support from the Danish Ministry of
Culture, Department of Preservation of Cultural Heritage. The course
was my idea, and I planned it along with two colleagues, M. H. Jorgensen and A. Sparr. We chose a number of
techniques and each taught a selected number. (Photo
Anna Sparr, from Sweden, is an
accomplished hair-braider (not pigtails!), so she taught three
variations of braiding as well as simple kumihimo braids on discs. I
taught various samples of slendring/loop-manipulation and a kute-uchi.
There were also simple braids of lace, tablet weaving, rigid heddle and
several others for which I don't have the English term handy. 25
textile conservators and other museum people were presented with a
series of both simple and unusual braids and cords which they could
learn to do, on equipment already set up for them. They circulated
throughout the day between different stations, including several
examples of loop-manipulation (which was a new technique for most),
learning the basics. Each made samples of 4-5 types. Each participant
received a folder with full instructions and color photos of the
finished products, in addition to their own samples. The students were
very excited about the course, and we expect to repeat it later this
year. My object lesson with the course was to encourage my colleagues
to learn to see what different constructions are produced by different
techniques. My hope is that having now seen loop-manipulated braids in
the making, they will be able to recognize them as such if they see
them on museum objects or in archaeological finds! The course has
inspired further research into the occurrence of loop-manipulated
braids in the Royal Archives, collaborating with Joy Boutrup.
C. Kawabe, See&Do Session, for the
exhibit at SMGC, 03/05/06, assisted by T.
Onishi. 24 participants. M. Omura at National Ethnology Museum, Suita, Japan; 'Let's try braiding
with loops,' the Special Exhibition 'Kid's
World at Minpaku, about 50 participants, 5/27/06. C. Kako at Hyogo
Prefectural History Museum,
Himeji, Japan, See&Do Session: 'Let's Make Braids.' After
practicing f-h l-m with 3 and 5 loops, children made bresletts with
woolen and metalic yarns in the traditional style of Mrs. Kumeda from
Aomori. 13 participants. C. Nishioka at The Native Place of Silk Gunma
Prefectural Museum 9/27. M. Kinoshita gave workshops
at Wako and Nara: 10-11/2006 Kute-uchi Advanced Basic Techniques, The
Tollemache Book of Secrets: Treatise for Making Laces, Series 2, Solo
techinque for Duo Braiding, The Tollemache Oblique Twining Techniques,
Learning through Practice: Basic Structure of braids and the
Track-plan. Y. Kawada at Sennan Municipal
Center for Buried Cultural Properties,
assisted by H.. Kasuga, C. Kawabe, S. Sumiura, K. Tsumori, A Yoda.
11/18/06. Field trip of municipal elementary school kids. See&Do
Session, 364 kids participated; mini-workshop, 26 participants. The
iron sword excavated from the Mita burial mound with pseudomorphed
braid were also on display. K. Kuskabe
gave a gallery talk and demonstration for the exhibition mentioned
above, assisited by A. Maekawa, 9-loop 2-person braiding of a headband,
POTE, of Sulawesi. Attendees were all excited seeing the demonstration.
We wait for reports of the readers'
activities relating to L-M BRAIDING.
Again this year, we received
information from many readers, giving us yet stronger convictions of
l-m braiding having been used long in time and wide in area. It is
encouraging to see that many people are exposed to the technique
through demonstrations, the efforts of volunteers.
Acknowledgement: For contribution
of articles -- N. Speiser, Kimberly
Frodelius; For information -- P.
Collingwood, K. Johansen, H. Kasuga, N.
Kajitani, C. Kawabe, K. Kusakabe, M. Omura, L.
Swales; For supplying materials -- Textilmuseum St.
Gallen and C. Kaestili and U.
Karbacher at the museum, R. Satoh at Goto
monetray contribution -- H. Aihara, S.
Sumiura, H. Nagase; and those
who sent us letters, faxes and e-mails.
L-M BRIC News, starting
this issue, no longer issues hardcopy version. The News
will be accessed only through the internet. For those who have
difficulty to access to the internet or wish to have hardcopy version,
please request your wish to the editor. We will be happy to make a full
hard copy set from the web and mail it to you, free of charge.
L-M BRIC News is
totally self-supported publication by the Loop-Manipulation Braiding
Research and Information Center founded by Masako Kinoshita to promote
the study of L-M braiding. Donations from interested readers, however,
are welcome. If you wish to donate money, please send it to Masako
Kinoshita, 5 winthrop Place, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA. Please send YEN
contribution through Japanses postal money order account no. 00360 3
2586, title Masako Kinoshita.