Traditional Chinese decorative knots, also known as Chinese knots, are one of the typical local arts of China. It first began in ancient times then developed during the Tang and Song Dynasty (960-1229 A.D.) and was popularized during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911A.D.). In Chinese, "knot" means reunion, friendliness, peace, warmth, marriage and love. Chinese knots are often used to express good wishes, including happiness, prosperity, love and the absence of evil.
Later on, knots were used on clothes and as ornaments, becoming both practical and ornamental and a symbol of happiness and auspice. Since the Qing Dynasty, knots as an art form had been well developed with various patterns and ingenious names, and were elevated from an ornament to an art.
Chinese knots are mainly made of cords which can be silk, cotton, linen, nylon, and blended fabrics. They are distinctive for their complicated patterns with every knot knotted in a unique way and named according to its shape and implication.
The knots are pulled tightly together and are sturdy enough to be used for binding or wrapping, making them very practical. Furthermore, the complicated structure of the Chinese knot allows for all kinds of variations and enhances its decorative value. Almost all basic Chinese knots are symmetrical, which has set certain technical limitations on the design and creation of new patterns and themes. Symmetry is consistent with time-honoured ornamental and aesthetic standards in China. Visually, the symmetrical designs are more easily accepted and appreciated by Chinese people.
Crafting the Chinese knot is a three-step process, which involves tying knots, tightening them and adding the finishing touches. Knot-tying methods are fixed, but the tightening can determine the degree of tension in a knot, the length of loops (ears) and the smoothness and orderliness of the lines. Thus, how well a Chinese knot has been tightened can demonstrate the skill and artistic merit of a knot artist. Finishing a knot means inlaying pearls or other precious stones, starching the knot into certain patterns, or adding any other final touches.
In short, Chinese knots have many special and unique ethnic connotations and embody the mystery of ancient times and the ingenuity of Chinese people. Therefore, during festivals, Chinese knots are hung indoors as adornments or are given to relatives and friends as gifts. Their graceful shape and old-timey charm create a harmonious and auspicious atmosphere.
The Chinese knot, with its classic elegance and ever-changing variations, is both practical and ornamental, fully reflecting the grace and depth of Chinese culture.