The Chinese Knot, also referred to as Chinese traditional decorative knot, is an ancient art form and the artifacts which could be found as far back as 100,000 years ago. Chinese people used knots for fastening, wrapping, hunting, fishing, and some knots had purely ornamental functions. Knots were also used to record events. Derived from the phenomenon of “keeping records by tying knots” prevalent in the primitive age, the “knot” contained in it a legal representation of “contract” and therefore was of great significance. Chinese Knot has now become a kind of elegant and colorful arts and crafts from its original practical use.
The Chinese Knots are based on over a dozen basic knots and almost all the basic knots are in symmetrical form. The characteristic of Chinese Knot is that every knot is made of a single rope and named by its distinctive shape, usage, or origin. For example, the Double Coins is named because it is shaped like two overlapping coins of the kind once used in ancient China. As a clasp made by plaiting cloth strips, the Button Knot is used in traditional garments such as Tang suit and cheongsam. The Pan-Chang Knot usually a series of continuous loops – symbolizes the Buddhist conception of continuity and the origin of all things. In all of the basic Knots, the Pan-Chang Knot is the primary type of Chinese Knot upon which an endless number of variations can be made.
The Chinese Knot is made by plaiting a string into a knot of diversified shapes. Crafting the Chinese Knot is a three-step process of tying knots, tightening them, and adding the finished touches. Knot-tying methods are fixed, but the length of the loops, the smoothness and orderliness of lines vary greatly. Thus, how well a Chinese Knot has been tightened can demonstrate the skill and artistic achievement of a Knot artist. To finish a knot, inlaying pearls or other precious stones, starching the knot into certain patterns, or adding any other final touches are needed.
Except for the Double Coins Knot, Chinese Knot is three dimensional in structure. It is comprised of two planes which are tied together to leave a hollow center. Such a structure lends some strength to the work as a whole and keeps its shape when hung on the wall. The hollow center also allows for the addition of precious stones.
Chinese knots are of practicability and artistry. The Chinese knots are pulled quite tightly. They do not easily come undone when used to bind or wrap something, so they are very practical. Furthermore, the complicated structure of Chinese Knot allowed for all kinds of variations and enhances its decorative value. For example, the Button Knots are used as the adornments for cheongsams, serving as a symbol of beauty. Chinese knots are used to decorate the houses, and they also appear in paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of folk art.
In addition to the function of decoration, the Chinese Knot has cultural connotations. Some Chinese Knots express people’s various hopes since knot is pronounced as “Jie” in Chinese similar with that of “Ji”, which means blessing, longevity, happiness, fortune, safety and health and is the everlasting pursuit of Chinese people. The knot is also used as a token for love in China and means that the love is inseparable like the loops tightly tied together. For example, the room of newlyweds is usually decorated with the interlink palindrome-type “True Love Knot” plaited with brocade ribbons symbolizes mutual love and living to old age in conjugal bliss.
The art of Chinese Knot is still endowed with peculiar enchantment in modern times. Chinese Knot has become a symbol of China with its uniqueness and profound cultural connotations.