Chinese Knots and Decorative Arts

Chinese Knots and Decorative Arts
15th January 2016 Mandarin Quarter

With vivid colour cords woven into elegant patterns, Chinese knot is a fascinating piece of Chinese traditional handicraft that is full of history and rich in symbolic meanings.

Despite its seemingly complex form, it is actually made from a single length of cord. The cord usually loops at the top, and is attached to one or two tassels at the bottom. It is also common that Chinese knots are decorated by other items, such as coins, jade, beads or even writings (e.g. “福/fortune” or “寿/longevity”). The knots can be made in a variety of colors, although red, the Chinese lucky colour, is most popular.

The origin of Chinese knots can be traced back to prehistoric time. Before writings were invented, Chinese people tied knots to ropes as a mean to record information and convey messages. Whilst knots has been replaced by writing as a mean of communication, it has evolved into a folk handicraft and flourished through the creativity of Chinese people.

From the Tang Dynasty (around 900AD), Chinese knots has become an artistic decoration with symbolic meanings. The knots were woven into different shapes signifying different thoughts and quest for good fortune. Nowadays, the most common type of Chinese knot is PanChangJie/ 盘长结 (right), which signifies good health and longevity.

See below for other types of Chinese knots and their symbolic meanings.