The traditional Japanese takadai, is called the “high stand”, where the braider kneels on a board or sits on a stool inside the stand. In fact Tama means high and Day means stand. This version of the takadai was created in the Edo period (1603 -1867) to make the double cloth braid known as ayadashi; the characteristics of these strong stiff braids are a motif that can be repeated at will and are made using all four arms.
More common in the West are medium sized stands that can be used with a chair and small stands that can be knelt at to braid.
The takadai makes obliquely interlaced braids on two or four arms. Braids can be made of one color with textures created by the braid structure or with patterns. They can be flat, tubular or sculptured. Images takes all four arms to braid and are called double-faced or pick-up braids.
The braider sits at the front of the stand where she can interweave her hand over and under the threads, starting on the right, as needed for the pattern. The sword is entered into the resulting space, called the “shed” to hold it open so the tama at the far end, away from the braider, can be cast through and laid to rest on the opposite arm of the takadai nearest the braider. The sword is then used to beat the threads into place and the braider repeats her movements on the left side of the takadai. The movable koma hold the threads and when empty at the far end of the takadai, are removed and placed again in their groove nearest the braider in order to accept new threads as they are cast through the shed.
Click here for a video of Michael Hattori using the takadai.