Explore the Ancient Art of Kumihimo, a Traditional Japanese Braiding Technique
The ancient Japanese art of kumihimo encompasses 1,300 years of braiding and cord-making history. Translating to “gathered threads,” the weaving technique has been practiced for centuries, with the completed creations used for binding historical samurai armor and creating ties for modern kimonos. Many kumihimo are made of hand-dyed silk interlaced using special looms as demonstrated in a short film released by Japan House London.
Accompanying the Kumihimo: Japanese Silk Braiding exhibition, the video captures the meditative and methodical process of the labor-intensive art form. One weaver seated at a takadai loom manually passes bobbins through the upper and lower threads and then uses a bamboo tool, or hera, to hit and tighten the braid. Later, a craftsperson is shown at the round murudai, which involves passing the strands from front to back in a rhythmic sequence.
Watch the video above for a glimpse into the process, and if you’re in London, see Kumihimo: Japanese Silk Braiding, which features installations, looms, and dozens of examples of the braids, through June 11.
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