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Collectors think of sageo as ornamentation for swords and some knots can appear to be very complex. Sword practitioners understand the function of securing the sword to the obi by using the sageo. Various styles of swordsmanship have different ways of tying the knot as identifiers. When bowing to start and complete practice, there are also many rituals regarding how the sageo is manipulated.
But the story of the sageo is a long and impressive journey. The oldest example still on view dates back to Nara Jidai (８th centuries). In Heian Jidai (８th-1２th centuries), silk sageo weaves were very intricate as were the designs and myriad colors utilized. These works of art graced the clothing of the Nobel class. With the emergence of the warrior class, these richly woven cords were considered armor. The idea that sageo would be converted for use as obi jime (tying cords) with kimono did not emerge until the Meiji government (1852-1912) banned the warrior class and the wearing of two swords (Haitorei).
Today, we are genuinely honored that we are able to provide the finest work available anywhere as well as support the craft art of the weave by working with national living cultural assets (Dento Kogeishi) that are 8 generations old. (This title requirement is that the craft has been preserved without interruption for a minimum of 3 generations).
There are many different weaves, each stunning for form as well as function. When we use the word "weave", we're not talking about a simple twist or weave with one to four threads. These typically have between 40 and 64 threads depending upon pattern. The more threads, the tighter and stronger the finished product will be. By weaving in numerous directlons strength is amplified so that the sageo earned the reputation as armor and could be used by the warrior. Some weaves of old had cin excess of 200 interlocking threads.
We are sometimes asked why the dyed silk of a sageo doesn't match the silk of ito - the wrap on the handle (tsuka) of a Japanese sword or iaito. There are several excellent reasons for this; First the weaves are different as the purposes are different andw ould absorb the dye differently, Second, the sageo and the ito are not dyed together by the same maker in the same vat at the same time. Sometimes a "matched" color set can actually indicate that the quality is inferior or decorative in nature as the same weave is being used for both sageo and ito ignoring the fact that the weave has a specific function.
Swordstore's special sageo have tassels at both ends that can be cut to the client's preference. It is this tassel that demonstrates that we are offering the highest grade silk sageo available anywhere. We offer solid colors, gorgeous gradients, two color in Kikko (turtle shell) pattern, Bishamon Kikko (name of deity) with a superior weave and Yamato styles. We also offer custom lengths, colors and pattern choices. An expert craftsman will expend more than 20 hours of labor to make one sageo!