Miao (China) Braiding Stand
In many cultures, some type of equipment is used for braiding. The most common one is a round stand with a weight/counterweight system designed to create enough tension to ensure consistent interlacements. Stands also allow the braider to handle a large number of elements efficiently while being able to braid faster.
Japanese Marudai, Photo by Tracy Jackson
In many round stands, the threads used for braiding go through a center hole and the braid is formed by layering interlacements one over the other. With other round stands, such as some of those used by the Miao in China, the braid is suspended above the surface of the stand. In this case, layers of interlacements are built one under another.
Hair Braiding Stand, Photo by Anna Spar
The art of hair work made on a braiding stand had its peak in the 19th century. Hair jewelry was worn by people of all classes. It became most popular as ‘Mourning Jewelry’ as Queen Victoria wore it as a memorial to a deceased loved one. Today, the tradition of braiding human hair is still practiced in Sweden. A round stand is typically used with a system of weights and counterweight to keep the hair under tension while it is braided. Unlike the Japanese marudai, the hair braiding stand is domed and does not have a well in the center. Bobbins weigh around 35 to 40 gr each.