What is Mizuhiki made from?
Mizuhiki is a traditional Japanese art form made from a special cord. This cord is derived from rice paper. Firstly, the rice paper is wound tightly and then starched. Starching gives the paper a stiffness needed to hold its shape. Colour is then added, and can be done so in a variety of ways. Sometimes, the cord is simply painted, or sometimes strands of silk or brightly coloured pieces of thin plastic are used to add the bright colour.
What are the uses of Mizuhiki?
- Mizuhiki is often tied into a knot around gifts, with each knot having a particular meaning. Each of these knots is tailored for a specific event, such as a wedding ceremony or birth.
- Although not as common a use as it used to be, Mizuhiki used to be utilised in binding money envelopes, as certain symbols were thought to bring luck.
- As well as knots, Mizuhiki can take many forms. For example, animals and boats are often presented at weddings, births, and funerals.
- A more modern use for Mizuhiki is using it to create jewellery and accessories. It can be used to elaborately decorate a woman’s hair for special ceremonies, such as her wedding.
- In more recent times, Mizuhiki has been adopted by artists who creatively use it to create original 3-dimensional works of art.
The history of Mizuhiki is thought to have started as a way of tying back the hair of samurai warriors in the 1600’s. The paper was twisted into a strong cord to tie their hair into a topknot. However, having long hair became less popular due Westernisation, meaning that the art of using Mizuhiki to tie hair began to phase out.
The Mizuhiki knot goes as far back as 607 AD, when a Japanese delegate presented a gift from China to the Japanese emperor. This gift was decorated with a red and white twine knot symbolising ‘safe journey’. Since then, the Japanese followed the same style, recreating the knot and starting a tradition of presenting a gift box with a Mizuhiki knot.