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Kumihimo Equipment & Supplies

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Photo of Maru Dai, thread and books Maru_Dai_Diagram.gif (5757 bytes)*

Kumihimo: This is the ancient art of braiding ropes, belts, ribbons and decorative sashes. Practiced in Japan and other countries for centuries, Kumihimo braiding is becoming very popular all over the world. There are myriad designs, shapes and beautiful patterns possible, and the investment in the equipment is very modest.

The most basic piece of equipment is the braiding stand, shown above and in the cutaway diagram. The braiding stand in Japan is known as a Maru Dai. Loosely translated, Maru = round, Dai = table. There are many other types of braiding stand available, such as Takadai, Ayatakedai, Kakudai and others. See our ScrapBook for many more pictures of kumihimo equipment in action.

The weighted bobbins, or Tama, are used to store and tension the warp thread. The Tama hang down around the outside edge of the Maru Dai, as shown. The finished braid comes out and downward from the central hole in the Maru Dai, and it is weighted with a lead-filled sack to balance out the weight of the Tama.

To make a braid, the Tama are moved and shuffled around the outer edge of the Maru Dai, in a specific sequence or pattern. As the threads are pulled over and under each other, a tight braid is formed. The process is repeated until the desired length of braid is made.

The braid can be round, like a rope, or flat like a ribbon. There are many shapes possible in between (triangles, squares, pentagons, ovals, etc.) depending on the the number of Tama used and the complexity of the pattern braided. 16 or 24 tama are most commonly used for many braiding patterns. As few as 4 tama can be used to make a braid, and patterns that require 72 tama are not uncommon.

Maru Dai: (Pictured Above) Mountain Loom makes a very fine Maru Dai stand out of polished western maple. The diameter of the Dai top is about 9-3/4" (25cm) with a central hole of about 1-1/4" (3cm) in diameter. The legs furnished are 23" long, and this places the Maru Dai at about the right height if it is placed on the floor and the braider is sitting in a chair. 15" legs are also supplied if the dai is to be used in a kneeling position or on a table. We have developed a special process for making a Maru Dai top that is very lightly finished with flat-sheen film but is not too slippery - this is important for a good Maru Dai top. The Maru Dai tops can also be supplied polished but without any finish at all, if desired.

Close up Tama Pix Tama...

These lead-filled spools are used to tension the thread during the braiding process.


Pure Silk Thread for Kumihimo..NEW! Variegated Silk!

If your going to spend some time making a beautiful braid, why not use the very finest material: 100% pure silk.

Again, please take a look at the ScrapBook to see many more pictures of Kumi stuff.

*Cutaway diagram is from Braids - 250 Patterns from Japan, Peru & Beyond, by Rodrick Owen, 1995. Courtesy Interweave Press. This book is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in Kumihimo.

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