“The Karakumi-dai is used to make Karakumi braids. This dai measures about 30 x 30 x 30 cm ( 12 x 12 x 12 inches) The top is a square, wooden frame outlined with wooden pegs. The frame is attached to a stand. Flat, lightweight tama, called Hira-dama are used to give a little tension to the threads, however, the threads are tightened with fingers instead of relying on weighted tama.” (1).

“Karakumi-dai is said to originate in the Heian Period to meet the needs of Karakumi Hirao production. The Karakumi Hirao is a sash of 8 to 10 cm wide and about 250 cm long for aristocratic men of upper class to hang on a sword. Karakumi Hirao is an enhanced version of double diamond braids, “Futa-Hishi-Karakumi”, preserved in the Horyuji temple, characterized by ten or more linked diamonds with small diamonds at each side. The cords used for the central part were dyed in various shades of color and embroidered with birds and crests”. (2)

“Karakumi braids are made using PAIRS of strands. Each strand of the pair is attached to a small flat weighted bobbin (hiradama in Japanese). Pairs are organised into GROUPS. Traditional Japanese Karakumi work most often uses 8 pairs to the group. The technique works equally well with more or fewer pairs per group.

Karakumi Braids are worked in diamond shaped sections, which are produced by inter-working two groups. Along the selvedges there are half diamonds, produced by inter-working a group with itself. The inter-working method produces a twined structure, made with an S twist. The simplest braid is made using two groups and will consist of a column of single diamonds. Four groups are used to make a double diamond braid. The traditional Japanese karakumi hirao sword belts are many diamonds wide (typically between 10 and 15). Within a braid, the two groups used to form a diamond can be split and worked in such a way that a single diamond is replaced by 4 small diamonds. Hirao will have a column like this on either side. These columns are usually highlighted by a twined white stripe either side.” (3)

  1. Tada, Makiko. “Equipment of Japanese Kumihimo.” Gathering Threads, 2018, p18.
  2. Tada, Makiko. “Karakumi.” Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Braiding”, 2016, p 6.
  3. Pretty, Steve. “Making Karakumi. How to Make braids on the Karakumidai.” Strands, 2009, p27-32.
  4. Gibson, Edna. “Karakumi – Past, Present and Future.” Strands,2009, p 23-26.

       Karakumi Braid Photos – Edna Gibson – Braid Society

        

Double Karakumi – Textured.                                   Circular Karakumi

         

Silver Leaves Made with                                 Traditional Karakumi Braid

Supplementary Warp Inserted