Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese form of braiding. History shows these braids came to Japan through Korea and China along with Buddhism. The term “kumihimo” is formed by two Japanese words; KUMI which means coming together, “HIMO” literally translates to string, cord, or rope or braid. KUMIHIMO refers to a particular way of making braids by “interlacing” three or more strands of thread.
“In the late 1800s, the samurai were disbanded and prohibited from wearing swords in public. These proclamations were a devastating one-two blow to the kumihimo industry: the demise of samurai armor, which was comprised mostly of silk braids, and the sageo, the cord used to attach sword scabbards to the armor or kimono. About this time, however, fashions were also changing. The obi, or sash, became much wider and needed a sturdy cord to tie it together. And so obijime was born and proved to be the saving grace for kumihimo. It continues to be its cornerstone in the 20th and 21stcenturies.” (1)
This ancient art of braiding continues to gain popularity in the United States and around the world; not just to create traditional braids made of silk, but also to design and develop jewelry, other wearable art and a wide variety of decorative items. Modern kumihimo techniques offer braiders the opportunity to display their creativity by using a variety of fibers, pearls, beads and metal components. Today braids are created using a variety of disk and plates, marudai and other braiding stands.
The American Kumihimo Society (AKS) mission is to increase awareness of kumihimo and support kumihimo education.
(1). Hattori, Michael. “Kumihimo in the 21st Century.” Gathering Threads, 2018, pp. 43-44.
Sageo – the cord used to attach sword scabbards to the armor or kimono
Obi – Claire Cassan – Artisan’ Art
Beaded braid with focal point created on foam disk
Traditional braid sampler – purple and orange