~Historical references to using thumbs in making 9-loop fingerloop braids~
Using thumbs to braid 9-loop fingerloop braids (using the V-fell method, also known as Method 2) was documented in Finland in the first half of the 1900’s — see L-MBRIC news, issue 11. [L-MBRIC is currently only partially on-line, click here for updated info.] This isn’t widely known – Noemi Speiser was unaware of those references when she wrote her books on loop braiding. Masako Kinoshita of L-MBRIC apparently only came across them in 2007 or 2008.
However, to me this 9-loop ‘thumbs’ method is very obvious if you are using the V-fell braiding method. The other two methods for making simple loop braids – Slentre and A-fell – can’t use thumbs to hold loops, because the thumbs are on the ‘wrong’ side of the index fingers. But when using the V-fell method to braid a 7-loop braid, the thumbs are the obvious next-in-line digits to hold more loops.
The V-fell method (though not necessarily the use of 10 fingers) has been documented in Asia, the Pacific, India, S. America, and one location each in Russia and Finland.
Loop braiding traditions have declined or died out over most of the world since the advent of braiding machines and international trade, so we probably won’t ever know how common this 9-loop method was in previous years.
For more info on all three basic fingerloop braiding methods, see A-fell, V-fell, and Slentre.
UPDATE: At Braids 2012 I met Europa Chang Dawson, who learned how to loop braid in China in the 1940’s. She told me that her grandfather taught her how to loop braid, and she learned how to braid 9-loop square braids using thumbs as well as fingers, just as I teach it in this tutorial. She considered it a common practice. I believe this was in a major city, and definitely not in one of the non-Han minority areas. This is interesting in itself, because nowadays I think loop braiding is only known from minority areas of China, although there are ancient Chinese literary references to loop braiding, and a depiction of loop braiders in bronze sculpture that is thousands of years old (google: Omura, “www.lmbric.net”; and: bronze, “www.lmbric.net”.
Last updated Nov/29/2019
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