Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Sacred and Ceremonial Textiles: Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Chicago, Illinois, 1996. (Minneapolis, 1997).


Copyright 1996 by the author.


The silk braids which adorn some banners in the Horyuji and Shosoin collections represent the four basic types of braids from the seventh and eighth centuries in japan (Fig. 1). Of the four, type I, the square braid, is found primarily as hanging cord. Type II. the four-ridge flat braid with a twill pattern, was used as trimming around design figures) Types III and IV, the oblique ribbed twine braid and the braid with a plain-weave pattern respectively, are flat and generally wider than the first two types. They compose the "head," "tongue," and "arms" of some banners, giving a necessary firmness to the shape of the banners (Fig. 2). Narrow braids of Type III were occasionally used as edge trimmings. To my knowledge, no banner adorned with braids from later era has yet been found.

Some braids in the Horyuji collection have been attributed to be of Chinese origin.2) It has been generally understood that braiding techniques were also brought to japan by Koreans in the sixth century. I have not yet had a chance to trace the Japanese braiding techniques back to their origin.