With the advancement of civilization, Chinese people used knots for more than just fastening and wrapping. Knots were also used to record events, and some knots had purely ornamental functions. In 1980, some dedicated connoisseurs collected and arranged the decorative yet practical knots that have been passed down through the centuries in China. After studying the structures of these knots, the devotees set about creating new variations and increasing the decorative value of the knots. These exquisitely symmetrical knots which come in so many forms are as profound as the great cultural heritage of the Chinese people. The knots have thus been collectively named Chinese Macramé.
Chinese Macramé, like Chinese calligraphy, painting, porcelain, and even Chinese cooking, is easily recognizable to admirers of the Chinese culture. This is because the basic structures of Chinese Macramé cause it to differ greatly from Western or Japanese Macramé in shape and function.
The knots of Chinese Macramé are pulled quite tightly. They do not easily come undone when used to bind or wrap something, so they are very practical. Furthermore, the complicated structure of Chinese Macramé allows for all kinds of variations and enhances its decorative value. Almost all the basic knots of Chinese Macramé are symmetrical in form. While the demand for symmetry has set certain technical limitations on the design and creation of new patterns and themes, symmetry is consistent with time-honored ornamental and aesthetic standards in China. Visually, the symmetrical designs are more easily accepted and appreciated by Chinese people.
Except for the Two Coins Knot, Chinese Macramé is three dimensional in structure. It is comprised of two planes which are tied together to leave a hollow center. Such a structure lends rigidity to the work as a whole and keeps its shape when hung on the wall. The hollow center also allows for the addition of precious stones.
Since ancient times, Chinese Macramé has decorated both the fixtures of palace halls and the daily implements of countryside households. Chinese Macramé has appeared also in paintings and other pieces of folk art. For instance, Chinese Macramé was used to decorate the chairs used by the emperor and empress, the edges of parasols, the streamers attached to the waistbands of lady's dresses, as well as all kinds of seals, mirrors, pouches, sachets, eyeglass cases, fans, and Buddhist rosaries.
The endless variations and elegant patterns of Chinese Macramé as well as the multitude of different materials that can be used (cotton, flax, silk, nylon, leather, and precious metals such as gold and silver) have expanded the functions and widened the applications of Chinese Macramé. Jewelry, clothes, gift wrapping, and furniture can be accentuated with unique Chinese Macramé creations. Large wall-hangings made of Chinese Macramé have the same ornamental value as fine paintings or photographs and are perfectly suited for decorating any room.
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