Re: Chinese Knots
Re: blue Chinese glass beads -- lindabd Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/26/2019, 00:19:40

Hello Linda,

I have to disagree with my friend Stefany—in principle. However, I would like to see your knotted beads much more closely to be certain what I am about to write is accurate.

Chinese necklaces of knotted glass beads, composed ca. 100 years ago, often using Chinese glass beads (formerly called "Peking glass"), were knotted using what can be called a "Turk's head stopper knot." The name is not really apt, because a Turk's head is not something incorporated within necklace strands—but rather is a separate fiber "bead" (for all intents and purposes), that is strung onto a necklace, between the other beads. The "Turk's head stopper knot" looks very much like a Turk's head, but, as I said, is composed using the strands that make up the necklace. Typically these were two strands.

The Matthew Walker knot (MW) is very different—in making and appearance. It is typically made by unraveling a rope into basic strands, and then manipulating these. So a Matthew Walker knot might have three, four or more strands in its composition—depending on the rope used.

Likewise, crowning is a different application of cords, with a different appearance. However, like the MW knot it can be composed with three or four cords—these typically being used within and as the lines of the necklace (but not derived from a rope). The appearance of a chain of crowns is likewise different from the Chinese technique, and different from a MW knot.

The Turk's head stopper knot (THSK) demands only two cords or lines, and is based on a Carrick bend.

Back in the early 1970s, when I began collecting Chinese glass beads, I saw long necklaces composed with THSKs—there being a single fancy knot between each bead. The THSK looks exactly like a braid seen horizontally and in-the-round. Or it can be compared to basket-weaving. (Neither the MW nor crowned chains look like this.)

For several years it was my goal to learn to tie this knot. I reasoned that it could not be that difficult, because little Chinese ladies tied thousands of them. And eventually I found a fellow bead-stringer (Lois Curry) who demonstrated that she could tie one in a few moments. But I didn't actually teach myself until I viewed the book, Knots Useful and Ornamental—that is actually fairly similar to the Ashley Book of Knots. (I have both volumes.). I used the THSK occasionally, but not often enough to get really good at it. So far, I have made only one necklace that has a THSK tied between each bead. But it is a staple in my bead stringing class, that I teach this skill to anyone who is not too tired—at the end of my two-day classes. In fact, about ten days ago, at Tucson, I taught both crowning and the THSK to my friend and neighbor, David Ebbinghouse.

OK, well this is getting very wordy. Let's sum-up.

I SUSPECT that your necklace most-likely has THSKs between the beads. I am reasonably certain they are not MW knots nor crowning. But only a CLOSE photo will demonstrate this for sure.

My first reaction to your second necklace was that these might not be Chinese beads at all. However, once I took a closer look at the silver pieces (that do appear to be Chinese—though not something I am specifically familiar with), I decided they are probably not European, but rather are just somewhat-more-nicely-made Chinese glass beads.

Be well. Jamey

Modified by Beadman at Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 09:48:22

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