Musubi (obi knots) – Japan

The knot of the obi is called musubi (literally “knot”). These days, a woman’s knot often does not keep the obi in place as much as it functions as a large decorative piece in the back. The actual knot is usually supported by a number of accessories: pads, scarves and cords. While putting on the obi, especially when without assistance, there is a need for several additional temporary ribbons.

There are hundreds of decorative knots and they often represent flowers or birds. As everything else in a kimono outfit, the knots are regulated by a number of unwritten propriety rules. Generally the more complex and showy knots are for young unmarried women in festive situations, the more subdued for married or mature women or for use in ceremonial situations.

In earlier days, the knots were believed to banish malicious spirits. Many knots have a name with an auspicious double meaning.]

Types of knots

1. Asagao musubi

Asagao musubi

Asagao musubi (morning glory) is a knot suitable for yukata. As its name suggests, it resembles the flower of the Japanese morning glory. The knot requires a great length of obi so it is usually only made for little girls.

2. Ayame musubi

Ayame musubi

Ayame musubi (iris) is a very decorative and complex knot that resembles an iris blossom. It is considered suitable for young women in informal situations and parties. Because of the complexity and conspicuousness of the knot it should be worn with more subdued, preferably monochrome kimono and obi.

3. Bara musubi

Bara musubi

Bara musubi (rose) is a contemporary, conspicuous knot. It is suitable for young women and can be worn to informal parties. Because of the complexity of the knot, a multi-coloured or strongly patterned obi should not be used. The patterns of the kimono should match the knot representing an occidental flower.

4. Bunko musubi

Bunko musubi

This is like a chōchō musubi but the bow is vertical instead of horizontal (see below).

5. Chōchō musubi

Chōchō musubi

Chōchō musubi (butterfly knot) is a horizontal version of the bunko musubi. It is tied using a hanhaba obi. Most ready-made obi (tsuke obi) are made with the butterfly knot.

6. Darari musubi

Darari musubi

Darari musubi is a knot used nowadays only by maikos, dancers and kabuki actors. It is easily distinguishable by the long “tails” hanging in the back. In the past, courtesans and daughters of rich merchants, etc., would also have their obi tied in this manner. A specific darari obi, about 600 cm long, is needed for making this knot in its full length.

There also exists a half-length version of the darari musubi, the so-called handara musubi. According to tradition, a minarai (a maiko-to-be in training) wears her obi in this style. Maikos wear this knot for specific dances.

7. Fukura-suzume musubi

Fukura-suzume musubi

Fukura-suzume musubi (puffed sparrow) is a decorative knot that resembles a sparrow with its wings spread and is worn only by unmarried women. It is suitable for formal occasions and is only worn with a furisode kimono (a formal kimono with very long sleeves). Traditionally, the fukura-suzume musubi worn with a furisode indicated a woman was available for marriage.

Handara musubi

See Darari musubi.

8. Kai-no-kuchi musubi

Kai-no-kuchi musubi

Kai-no-kuchi musubi (clam’s mouth) is a subdued obi which is often worn by men. Sometimes older women or women seeking a somewhat masculine air to their outfit tie their obi in this knot.

9. Koma musubi

Koma musubi

Koma musubi (square knot, literally “foal knot”) is often used with haori strings (jacket) and obijime (cord used to tie the obi firmly). The short sanjaku obi for children is also tied in this way.

Nijūdaiko musubi

Nijūdaiko musubi (two-layer drum) is, as its name suggests, a version of the common taiko musubi, worn with the formal fukuro obi. Fukuro obi are longer than the more commonly used Nagoya obi, so the obi must be folded in two during the tying of the knot. The knot has an auspicious double meaning of “double joy”.

10. Taiko musubi

Taiko musubi

Taiko musubi (drum knot) is the most used musubi these days. It is simple and subdued and resembles a box. The taiko musubi is suited for both old and young women in almost any occasion and goes with almost any kind of kimono and in some cases even with yukata. Only furisode kimonos are considered too formal and youthful to be worn with the taiko musubi.

Nowadays the taiko musubi is usually associated with the taiko drum, but the origin of the name does not relate to the instrument. The knot was created at the time of the festive opening ceremony of the Taikobashi bridge in Tokyo in 1823. Some geisha attending the event tied their obi in a new, conspicuous way that was thought to resemble the shape of a karuta playing card. The knot was a variation of a simple men’s knot used then. The knot worn by trendsetting geisha was later adopted by other women. By the creation of the taiko musubi, the accessories obiage, obijime and obimakura were also established. These accessories belong to most kimono outfits used today.

11. Tateya musubi

Tateya musubi

Tateya musubi (standing arrow) resembles a large bow and is one of the most simple musubi worn with furisode kimonos. According to the kitsuke* authority, Norio Yamanaka, it is the most suitable knot to be used with the honburisode, the furisode with full length sleeves.

* Kitsuke is the art of wearing the traditional Japanese garment, the kimono.

12. Washikusa musubi

Washikusa musubi

Washikusa musubi (eagle plant) is basically a bow which resembles a certain plant thought to look like an eagle taking flight.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obi_(sash)

 

Pictures

  1. Asagao musubihttps://www.pinterest.de/pin/340584790568958675/
  2. Ayame musubihttps://www.pinterest.at/pin/751256781561452852/
  3. Bara musubihttps://www.pinterest.de/pin/235876099213570349/
  4. Bunko musubihttps://www.flickr.com/photos/aliceinwonderlandproducedbyalice/196940429
  5. Chōchō musubihttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Butterfly_musubi.png
  6. Darari musubihttps://www.pinterest.se/pin/456341374725322494/
  7. Fukura-suzume musubihttps://tanuki-kimono.tumblr.com/post/181862429028/how-to-tie-fukura-suzume-musubi-puffy-sparrow
  8. Kai-no-kuchi musubihttp://blog.livedoor.jp/auberginefleur/archives/%7BKawari_Kai-no-kuchi_Musubi_Bow.html
  9. Koma musubihttps://kimono.fandom.com/it/wiki/Nodo_Koma
  10. Taiko musubihttps://mespetitskimono.blogspot.com/2018/02/comment-realise-le-noeud-o-taiko.html
  11. Tateya musubihttps://old.animefest.cz/forum/vzkazy-2012/tateya-musubi
  12. Washikusa musubi – httpsa://www.pinterest.de/pin/469429961136282532/
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