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___ Chinese Knots

Chinese Knots (Chinese: 盤長; pinyin: pán cháng) Knotting originated as a method for communication, and a method of recording historical events.

Chinese Knots
Lucky charms with Chinese knots and golden yuanbao/ ingots © photo: Valeska Gehrmann
A large knot signified an important, major event; a small knot signified a minor event. Knots were associated with cultural and religious meanings.
The "mystic knot" pattern with its seemingly endless and repetitive pattern evokes one of the fundamental truths of Buddhism and the Theory of the Five Elements, the cyclical change of all things. (Eight Buddhist symbols of good fortune).

Similar to bagua mirrors, knots are supposed to ward off evil spirits, hence are a symbol of longevity and eternity. Knots act as good-luck charms given during Chinese New Year celebration.
In Feng Shui believe, ‘endless knots’ symbolise a long life without setbacks.

One major characteristic of decorative knotwork is that all the knots are tied using one thread. For a knot in a common size, the thread is usually about one-meter in length. However, when finished the knot looks identical from both the front and back. Knots can come in a variety of colours such as: gold, green, blue or black, though the most commonly used colour is red, symbolising good luck and prosperity.
There are many different shapes of Chinese knots. The most common being flowers, birds, dragons, and fish. Sometimes coins are attached to the knotting.

Some of the earliest evidence of knotting have been preserved on bronze vessels of the Warring States Period (ca. 403 - 221 BC), on Buddhist carvings of the Northern Dynasties Period (420-589 AD) and on silk paintings during the Western Han Period (206 BC - 24 AD).

Having started out as a folklore tradition, where two cords were joined to make a knot, the art of knotting transformed from its strictly functional application as in joining of cords for hunting or a button, to an artistic and decorative one, where not only the knot was more sophisticated, but knots could also included small objects, i.e. beads, or jade. In ancient China, the copper coins had a square hole in the center. People passed a rope through the holes to tie coins into strings. These strings are usually in groups of 100 coins called diào or 1000 coins called guàn.
During the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD) artistic knots were favoured by all levels of society. Patterns turned to be more and more artistic and elegant and the art of knotting reached its peak in the 19th century.

See also:
Chinese Imperial Dynasties
Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty


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