Bracelets have been worn by cultures all over the world since ancient times. Bracelets and other forms of jewelry were considered especially important in warm geographic regions, such as India and Africa, where few items of clothing were worn. Although both genders historically have worn bracelets, they seem more typically associated with women, especially in contemporary times. Cultural variations may be seen in the wearing of bracelets, for example, in the number of bracelets worn. In the United States, wearing one bracelet is common; however many Eastern cultures favor wearing several bracelets on one wrist. Some cultures in India wear anklets and armlets, as well as bracelets, while this is not as common in Western nations. In addition, Westerners often view bracelets as transitory, removing them at the end of the day. Married women in India, however, wear conch and glass bangles for life. They are broken only if the women becomes a widow.
While many cultural examples of bracelets abound, the intricacy of meanings behind bracelets are found among the people of Timor, a remote island in Indonesia. In Timor, bracelets are natural, stylized, or abstract. Using the lost-wax process, which requires a new mold for each bracelet, ensures a one-of-a-kind result. Timorese bracelets, as family heirlooms or household treasures, may indicate a marriage alliance, social status, and serve as protective amulets or as important artifacts for ritual dances and other ceremonies. In premodern times, bracelets also were badges awarded for the taking of heads. The Timorese have special bracelets for fertility, life cycle and life crisis ceremonies, and other important cultural rituals. Timorese men wear the most spectacular bracelets; the women's are similar in style, but smaller in size. Many bracelets display a traditional symbol indicating one's relationship to a specific Timorese house or family, called an uma.
See also Costume Jewelry; Jewelry. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Evans, C. Jewelry: Contemporary Design and Technique. Worcester, Mass.: Davis Publications, Inc., 1983. Ferris, M., and Y. Markowitz. "Charm Bracelets: Portable Autobiographies." Ornament 21, no. 4 (Summer 1998): 54-57. Gill, B. "Jewelry from Yarn: The Indian Patwa." Fiberarts 28, no. 1 (Summer 2001) 21. Goldberg, N. Jewelry. New York: Hart Publishing Company, 1977.
Kennard, S. J., III. "Timorese Tribal Bracelets: A Cultural Perspective." Arts of Asia 25: 62-69. Liu, R. K. "Adorning the Wrist." Ornament 23, no. 2 (Winter 1999): 62-63.
-. "Kevin O'Grady: Borosilicate Glass Art." Ornament
25, no. 3 (Spring 2002): 60-63. Morton, P. Contemporary Jewelry. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970. Strote, M. E. "Stylish Safety Bracelets." Shape 22, no. 6 (February 2003): 62. Tait, H., ed. Jewelry 7,000 Years: An International History and Illustrated Survey from the Collections of the British Museum. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986. Trasko, M. Daring Do's: A History of Extraordinary Hair. New
York: Flammarion, 1994. Von Neumann, R. The Design and Creation of Contemporary Jewelry. Rev. ed. Radnor, Pa.: Chilton Book Company, 1961.
"Beautiful Bangles" (2000-2003). Available from <http://www.glamourdome.com/home.asp>.
BRAIDING The word "braid" has many different meanings that change over time and between social groups. For example, a braided fabric once meant material that had faded, but this definition is obsolete now. In the United States, the common use of the word "braid" would be called a plait in the United Kingdom. With global communication becoming commonplace, the problem of terminology increases in importance, as agreed definitions create a common understanding of terms.
International authorities still differ in their opinions. In The Manual of Braiding, Noemi Speiser defines "braid ing" as "interworking a set of elements by crossing, interlacing, interlinking, twining, intertwining" (p. 146). On the other hand, Irene Emery in The Primary Structure of Fabrics sees braiding only as oblique interlacing (p. 68). This leaves a problem of classifying such braid techniques as card weaving, making inkles, cords, knotting, knitting, or lucet work. All these techniques as well as structures made using stand and bobbin equipment, free-end braiding, ply-split, and loop manipulated pieces are part of the costume world, though only some would be defined strictly as "braids."
Some of these techniques used to be domestic skills while others were more specialized methods, made in workshops after long training. In the domestic range come lucet work and loop-manipulated braids. Loop manipulation has a very long history and can be simple as the braids used as ties for clothing or to assemble samurai armor, or it can be very complex and decorative. We know from seventeenth-century household pattern books that these braids were in common use for all manner of things from purse strings to ties for clothing, and by the end of the eighteenth century a lucet was a common tool in most households, making ties for stays and other lacings. Reference has been found in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the inkle loom, which was developed for the making of garters, sashes, and other necessary ties.
While not always considered braiding, card weaving, which dates far back into European history, is a weaving technique in which the warp threads, running the length of the work, are held by cards with holes at the corners. The textile is made by turning the cards to change the shed, the space between the warp threads, for the insertion of the weft, the threads running across the piece. It makes highly complex and decorative wares that have been found on early garments worn by the nobility and senior clerics. A medieval tomb opened during the restoration of York Minster contained card-woven edgings on vestments. Older pieces have been found in excavations in Verucchio, Italy, where they were used as edging for cloaks. Some of these were used as the starting edge of the garment while others were skillfully woven using the ends of the cloak warp as the weft to incorporate the edging into the garment.
Pieces made on stands with the threads on bobbins are chiefly associated with countries in the Middle and Far East, although they are not unknown in Europe. In Japan, braids made on equipment such as the circular warp loom, or marudai, were used as braids for ties (obi-jime) worn with kimonos. In Europe, a method for making a braid using bobbins is described by Lady Bindloss in the seventeenth century while Diderot's Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry, first published in 1751, illustrates two types of stand and bobbin equipment. In the early 2000s, the main use is in Sweden where the craft of hair braiding continues in the making of jewelry, and in many places, in the use of equipment to make decorative pieces traditionally associated with Japan. A technique such as free-end braiding, where the work is attached to a fixed point at one end and then worked in the hand, is still in use. Notable among these are the Dida skirts made from many hundreds of threads, attached to the worker's toe and then braided in the weaver's hands into a tubular garment.
Braids have been used for ties such as stay lacing, shoelaces, and points; to secure clothing as braces, belts, and garters; for ceremonial pieces and those with specific meanings such as military braids, and for decoration as in the Miao silk work from China and Khajuja work from the Middle East, while in Peru very old and varied patterns are used to make slings. North American First Nations produced long, wide sashes and belts, often with beads and cross-fertilized with European techniques and ideas. Braids are still being used for some of these things; although in the early twenty-first century, braids for costumes in the Western world are either mass produced or made as individual pieces by skilled makers. Ply-split, a technique originally used mainly, but not exclusively, for animal regalia in India, is being developed for highly decorative accessories, such as belts and bags, for neck pieces, bracelets, and even whole garments. There are also many developments in making jewelry pieces on stand and bobbin equipment.
See also Homespun; Knitting; Knotting; Loom; Weaving. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Cahlander, Adele. Sling Braids of the Andes. Weavers Journal
Monograph IV, 1980. Campbell, Mark. The Art of Hairwork . Petaluma, Calif.: Unicorn Books, 1989.
Collingwood, Peter. The Technique of Ply-Split Braiding. Petaluma, Calif.: Unicorn Books, 1998.
Dendel, E. W. The Basic Book of Finger Weaving. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974. Dyer, Anne. Purse Strings Unravelled. London: Dyer, 1997. Emery, Irene. The Primary Structure of Fabrics. London: Thames and Hudson, 1966. Fuller, Elaine. Lucet Braiding. Berkley, Calif.: Lacis Publications,
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