Chinese knot (Chinese: 中国结 ; pinyin: zhōng guó jié) is a decorative handcraft that began as a form of Chinese folk art in the Tang and Song dynasties in China.
Chinese knot / Zhong Guo Jie is also known as Lao Zi (Chinese: 络子 ; pinyin: lào zi) in ancient times.
The Chinese knot is a knot that is tied and woven from a single strand or cord into various shapes and varying degrees of complexity.
Each shape has its symbolic meaning, and now Chinese knots can be used as decoration, gifts for special occasions, and accessories on clothing.
Each type of knot is named according to its shape or the symbolic meaning it carries.
Chinese knots can come in a variety of colors such as gold, green, blue, or black, though the most commonly used color is red. Because red symbolizes good luck and prosperity.
The Chinese knot symbolizes unity, happiness, and peace, and its exquisite workmanship is widely loved by the people.
History of Chinese Knot
People originally used knots to record information and convey messages before people started writing.
But it is not known when it was first used symbolically or created as art.
The ancients admired jade, and men in the Zhou dynasty had the custom of adorning jade. It is recorded in “Er Ya Yi Shu” that “The group of jade knots, used for linking jade, is also called Lun, and is tied with a silk rope.”
Unearthed cultural remains show that since the Warring States Period, many kinds of jade knots appeared. Additionally, most of the ancient seals and bronze mirrors had holes for lacing to be worn or held.
It is known that some were used for artistic decoration and to symbolize and express thoughts and feelings during the Tang dynasty.
In addition to the practical function and recording function, the knot has gradually taken on an aesthetic connotation.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, Chinese knots were widely used in the decoration of clothing and utensils, showing a clear upward trend.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Chinese knot with various uses, names, and styles appeared, and the development of the Chinese knot reached its peak.
The Chinese knot which was once just a decoration has become an art form.
The Chinese knot phenomenon has continued to develop steadily over thousands of years with the development of more advanced techniques and the increasing complexity of knot patterns.
Chinese knots also spread to Japan and Korea.
Use of Ancient and Modern Chinese Knot
Even today, Chinese knots are rich in symbolic meaning, and thus have sentimental value when given as gifts or passed down through families.
For example, in ancient times until now, lovers may give a knot as a sign of their love. The ‘true love knot’ and ‘double happiness knot’ are given or used at weddings to express mutual love and growing old together in fidelity.
Chinese Knot Etymology
The Chinese word for ‘rope’ is ‘绳 shéng’ which sounds similar to the words for ‘spirit’, ‘divine’, and ‘life’. Knots have a spiritual meaning and are used for worship.
The word ‘knot’ itself is ‘结 jié’ and is related to many other terms which reinforce the symbolic meaning of the knot. For example, ‘团结 tuán jié’ means ‘to unite’, ‘结婚 jié hūn’ means ‘to marry’, and ‘结果 jié guǒ’ means ‘bear fruit’, or ‘result’.
So a knot given to a life partner or spouse means all this and having children too.
Modern Chinese Knot
Apart from being a gift or a symbolic message, knots are still used when wearing traditional Chinese clothing or as good luck charms.
The combination of Chinese knots and modern life has developed into several products, which are mainly divided into two series: hanging ornaments and clothing accessories.
These two series also cover many variations, such as hanging decorations: large wall hangings, indoor pendants, car pendants, and more. Meanwhile, clothing accessories: rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, belts, and others.
Apart from being decorative, Chinese knots are also often used as gifts for relatives and friends.
Chinese knots are also often sold as a typical Chinese handicraft.