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Knot Between Shoulder Blades


md02geist
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Hello all,

 

Noticed that *some* suits of armor seem to have a ring around the area in between the shoulder blades give or take higher or lower, and this has a special knot tied into it. 

 

A friend of mine called this the "ceremonial knot" or something similar.

 

What is the name of this knot, and is there a history behind it? I assume it is for good luck etc.

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Hi Rob,

 

The Swastika shape of the knot is known as Agemaki 総角, on the Ō-yoroi  大鎧 (lit: great armour), it served to anchor the lesser cords from other parts of the armour. scroll down this blog to the fourth image and you'll see how it was fixed:

 

http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/septaria77/65311790.html

 

This will show you how it functioned:

 

http://ikkaiyoroi.com/himo03.htm

 

On later armour it can be argued that it became a decoration which may have originally possessed some talismanic aspects.

 

Don't get too tied up over it......

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Hello all,

 

Noticed that *some* suits of armor seem to have a ring around the area in between the shoulder blades give or take higher or lower, and this has a special knot tied into it. 

 

A friend of mine called this the "ceremonial knot" or something similar.

 

What is the name of this knot, and is there a history behind it? I assume it is for good luck etc.

This is an "agamaki" knot, a redundant holdover on most armors, its original purpose was to help stabilize the large shoulder guards (o-sode) as seen in the image below.

 

68cf20b4eb223d730ac59ff4c47628ab.jpg

 

9e82b4eb31ad4416b3211f3ad1eb6d65.jpg

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Hi again Rob.,

 

If you fancy tying an Agemaki knot, here's a visual on the late Anthony J Bryant's site:

 

http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/katchu/katchu.ch03.html

 

Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and there's a diagram even a dumb Welshman like me could understand........

 

Pob lwc....... :)

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Rob,

In Eric's first example, uketsutsu and gattari serving for fastening the cords. Instead of the agemaki no kan. On later armor's (as Malcolm already stated) the knot was used for adornment.....and preventing the ring to rattle ;-)

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Rob,

In Eric's first example, uketsutsu and gattari serving for fastening the cords. Instead of the agemaki no kan.

Uwe, I do not think that is correct, there is an agamaki and the cords from the o-sode are tied to it, or at least that is what I am seeing. The agamaki may be attached to the gattari but it is not a clear view. 

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The first image shows a typical Edo period armour where the maker has tried to reconcile the idea of o-sode and their cords with a gattari and ukezutsu for holding a sashimono. The second image shows a traditional armour, in fact a composite of a do-maru and an o-yoroi. The row of scales to which the agemaki ring is attached is laced in reverse so that the shoulder straps can be thrown back when putting the armour on. The agemaki bow, likened to a dragonfly with that part fastening to the ring representing the head and eyes whilst the loops the wings. Being heavy, the bow had the duel function of holding this row of scales down by its weight as well as providing an attachment for the cords that held the o-sode in position when raising the arms or bending forward. As sode became smaller during the Muromachi period the need for the elaborate system of cords was simplified and then abandoned together with the large agemaki ring. The gattari and ukezutsu were simply attachments for some form of sashimono, often a flag but also other devices on a pole, that identified the wearer or the unit he belonged to. Important accessories in the battles of the Sengoku era.  By the 18th century after a long period of peace there was a nostalgic revival for the glories of the past that resulted in armours being made with ancient features such as o-sode, large spreading neck guards and the like - the latter making the wearing of a sashimono impossible yet the fittings for one were put on the backplate. Essentially the armourers had forgotten how o-sode were fastened. The central leather tie on the top plate should be tied to the rear loopon the shoulder strapp but was often tied around the shoulder strap with the standing plate that protected the neck from the sode being pierced to allow it to be tied this way. By the end of that century they had sorted it all out and good copies of o-yoroi and do-maru were being made, only to be abandoned when news of America's intentions arrived and high quality armours were produced based on Sengoku styles.

Ian Bottomley

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Hi Guys.,

 

Ian has it closely observed, excellent info BTW.

 

For the rest of us mortals, if you use the zoom facility, you can clearly see that there is no Agemaki no Kan on the first image, there clearly is an Uketsutsu and Gattari that the Himo of the Agemaki is knotted into.

 

 

Pip Pip......

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Hi again Rob.,

 

If you fancy tying an Agemaki knot, here's a visual on the late Anthony J Bryant's site:

 

http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/katchu/katchu.ch03.html

 

Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and there's a diagram even a dumb Welshman like me could understand........

 

Pob lwc....... :)

 

 

 

Thank you Malcolm. I have spent a lot of time on his site. Anthony was actually a friend of mine, we spoke at length (online, never met him in person sadly). He even sent me one of his "apprentice" DVDs some years back which has literally thousands of pictures of Japanese armor, both period and recreation as well as some Hollywood stuff. It has been a wonderful study guide.

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With image one I think I can offer an opinion.
The sode were not originally made for the armour and were most probably added later during it's re-lacing. Thats why there is not a No-kan present.

If you look at the top of the agemaki bow it is opened wider and strung around the gattari, therefore its adapted.

The straps coming from the sode make use of the kanamono nothing more. Looks nice, but is fabricated to an extent.

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With image one I think I can offer an opinion......................................The straps coming from the sode make use of the kanamono nothing more.

Dave, I am not exactly sure what this means....."The straps coming from the sode make use of the kanamono nothing more".....Kanamono are the various metal fittings found on Japanese armor, some purely decorative, some functional. As far as I can see the straps of the sode are connected to the agamaki knot....did you mean agamaki instead of kanamono?

 

In the image below the yellow arrow is pointing to the agamaki, the red arrows are pointing to were the sode straps are tied to the agamaki know, I do not see any kanamono involved.

4ef944556721fd86bac79f7843efead5.jpg

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Here are some images that help to clarify the terms being used such as "agamaki no kan", "uketsutsu" (uked-zutsu) and "gattari".

 

"Agamaki no kan" is the metal ring that the agamaki knot is attached to.

e7558fd2dae206411cb4f6d1771fa2e6.jpg

 

 "Uketsutsu" or more correctly "uked-zutsu" is the wood container that a flag pole would fit into, a "sashimono" (flag or banner) would then be attached to the flag pole.

 

"Gattari" (also machi-uke) is a hinged bracket that is attached to the back of the dou / do (cuirass), the uked-zutsu is held in place by the gattari.

 

 

In the image below the red arrow points to the "uked-zutsu", the yellow arrow points to the "gattati".

b700c706f805306cc82f92384a1c3368.jpg

 

Sashimono with pole and uked-zutsu.

f31c9a0b6844875b2f75c76e0bca379c.jpg

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With image one I think I can offer an opinion. The sode were not originally made for the armour and were most probably added later during it's re-lacing. Thats why there is not a No-kan present. If you look at the top of the agemaki bow it is opened wider and strung around the gattari, therefore its adapted.

 

It is possible that there is an agamaki no kan but it is hidden from view by the uked-zutsu. There are examples of dou that have both agamaki no kan and uked-zutsu. Now why would the agamaki be attached to the gattari instead the no kan if one was present? The example below shows why, on the left the agamaki is attached to the no kan and the uked-zutsu is keeping the agamaki from being seen, having the agamaki on top of the uked-zutsu is much more visually presentable in my opinion.

 

Here is an example of a dou with both agamaki no kan (yellow arrow) and uked-zutsu (red arrow).

612da7561c176d72a863a1de7a3974ef.jpg

 

Here you can see how a agamaki knot looks when it is under the uked-zutsu and on top of the uked-zutsu.

19065908c776ddc101df95e4e18abec8.jpg

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With image one I think I can offer an opinion. The sode were not originally made for the armour and were most probably added later during it's re-lacing. Thats why there is not a No-kan present.

 

 

In my opinion there is no way to tell if the sode were originally made for this armor or added later, the kanamono (metal fittings) of the dou and sode match, the lacquer matchs, the hon kozane (armor scales) match, the odoshi matchs. Now lets suppose the dou does not have a agamaki no kan, why would this be? It would have been childs play for the armor maker to add a agamaki no kan to the dou. If in fact there is not a agamaki no kan that would not be anything unusual, it was simply not need.

 

During the Edo period, the vast majority of armors were not worn, they were displayed. I mean were would an Edo period samurai wear one anyway, and even if worn how often? Luxurious armors, weapons etc were given as gifts, either to curry favor of superiors or as a reward or acknowledgement to subordinates. As a display in a samurai's home, the liberal splashing of family mons all over this armor would have been a show ownership, it would have been up against a wall, a large sashimono with the family mon as well jutting up the back for all to see. No real need for an agamaki no kan on an armor which would never be worn...at least that is how I see it.

 

The dou (lt), compared to the sode (rt). 

c5dc14207521bfa6298d654236a917ae.jpg

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Hi Rob, the rope is made from combined silk yarn. The tickness depends entirely on who made it. Older ones are very thick and heavy. Silk is rather expensive these days so reproductions are a lot thinner.

 

When I say reproductions I am not including the ones made for display suits, these use cotton from china.

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