A Marudai is a round-top braiding stand or frame used to make a wide variety of kumihimo braids in many different forms: round, square, rectangular, flat, triangular, and other polygonal shapes. It is considered the most versatile of the five basic types of kumihimo braiding stands, or dai. Marudai, translated from Japanese; maru 丸 meaning “round,” and dai 台 meaning “stand”. The marudai is traditionally made of wood, however, alternative materials such as acrylic and cardboard can be used.
Due to the lack of written or physical evidence, it is not known when the marudai first appeared in Japan. It is believed to be an invention of the early Edo period (1603-1868), as evidenced by its appearance in paintings and woodblock prints of the era. Round-top braiding stands are not unique to Japan; they exist in other Asian cultures and in Scandinavia and Europe.
The traditional, or Japanese-style, marudai is 40cm – 50cm (16″-20″) tall. It is designed to be used in a kneeling position on tatami mats; it may also be placed on a stand or table top. The Western-style marudai is adapted to be used while sitting in a chair. It is typically about 65cm or 26” tall.
The key part of a marudai is the braiding surface, consisting of three components:
- Kagami – (kah-gah-mee) – Mirror – The round top of the marudai is called “kagami” , in English it is known as the mirror. The top of the marudai is the most important part of the dai. Care should be taken to keep the kagami smooth so threads do not snag while braiding.
- Hekomi – (heh-koh-mee) – WELL – A depression in the surface of the mirror leading to a central hole through which working fibers pass. It is an important design component which allows the fibers to fall into place with little to no friction near the point of braiding (the point at which all the fibers converge).
- Kagami – (kah-gah-mee) no ana (central hole) – the hole through which the fibers pass as the braid is worked.
Looking down on the Kagami or Mirror.