Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese form of braid-making dating from the 4th-6th century. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands. Kumihimo is Japanese for "gathered threads". ”The distinctive feature of braids is the movement of three or more strands or threads intersecting indirectly with each other, allowing for both design flexibility and strength of cord.
The Japanese have from ancient times found a special mystical meaning in knotting and because of this a distinctive culture of cords has emerged. Cords are closely associated with many aspects of Japanese history. With trimming and tying Buddhist scrolls, the production of traditional armor and various types of clothing. The most prominent historical use of the cords was by samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their armor and their horses' armor.
Kumihimo has often been overlooked playing a side role to the object it is decorating. Prior to World War II Kimono was available to the majority of Japanese people resulting in a huge demand for Obi-jime (used to tie on a kimono sash) which played an essential role in the popularity of kumihimo. World War II led to a substantial shortage of fiber materials in the textile industry and the use of Kumihimo was limited to the military.
Since 1970 there has been a worldwide resurgence of Kumihimo. New applications of kumihimo incorporating wire, different yarns and fibers, stones and beads have been used to make very unique one of a kind jewelry.
Kumihimo is made on a marudai. It consists of a round top surface known as the Kagami which means mirror (each braid is the reflection of the braid-maker). The mirror has a central hole supported by 4 legs connected to a base.
The stand is used with weighted bobbins and a counterbalance bag containing weights.