Traditional Chinese hilt grip-wrapping – practical hilt rewrapping
photo from Chinese Military Museum, Bejing
In the modern art of practical cutting, one certainty is that — eventually — your hilt wrapping will wear out and need to be repaired or replaced. While students of specialist martial arts will likely want their hilts re-wrapped with materials and in a pattern suitable to the culture their art springs from, other cutters may wish for a wrapping which provides an effective grip, and which they can easily learn to do themselves.
One of the simplest of hilt wrapping I’ve seen which creates both an esthetically pleasing design and an effective grip is the traditional form of Chinese jian (longsword) and dao (sabre) grip-wrapping which appears in a tutorial by author and expert Peter Dekker from Mandarin Mansion.
This traditional method of wrapping the hilt involves a fairly simple weaving of a light or heavy cotton cord (depending on the nature of the grip desired). There are records of leather strips, silk and other materials also being used. Dekker notes that the pattern described in this tutorial is just one of seven he has identified from historical study of antique weapons, and invites questions on his techniques at: [email protected]
This tutorial gives simple step-by-step instructions on the weaving and tying of this grip, with many photos of the process:
This is such an nicely written tutorial I hesitate to write it up in summary as I normally do, for fear of creating confusion in anyone attempting this wrapping. I suggest downloading the tutorial (available in .pdf format) from the link below.
I should mention that while this particular wrapping is fairly simple, Dekker himself has used this and the other wrapping variations he has uncovered to create some marvelous wrapping designs:
Traditional grip wrapping on Chinese swords and sabers: Peter Dekker