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A Chinese Knotting Mould in Han Dynasty Found in Anhui

The cultural relics administration office of Huaining County in Anhui Province found a mould when reexamined the relics of the Wangjiazui smelt ruins of Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) of the east of Zhengshiku Village of Hongzhen Town. The finding of the mould proved that the nowadays popular Chinese knotting has emerged in Han Dynasty.

The earthen mould is round and gray. The roughcast was pure and the bake temperature was high, so the mould was rigid. If knock it, there will be the sound of metal. According to its roughcast, the facture and the other relics that unearthed together with it, archeologists proved that it's made in Han Dynasty.

The diameter of the mould was 12.4 centimeters and the thickness is 2.3 centimeters. A Chinese character "shou", (which means longevity) was cut in relief in the center. The veins of Chinese knotting and an abstract Chinese character "fu" (which means blessing), which was composed by three semicircles, were cut in relief on the edge. The back was smooth and also a Chinese character was cut in relief.

The use of the mould was still waiting for the further prove, but one of the veins on the edge proved that the endless knotting (or say mystic knotting), one of the basic knotting of Chinese knotting, had already appeared in an embryonic form then.

Chinese knotting was originated from ancient time. According to some record, ancient Chinese people knotted to help remembering things and then the handwriting emerged. So the knotting was just a means to help memory and then it was endue with the function of contract and agreement. At last knotting infiltrate the ancient culture, believes and even religions, embodied people's beautiful willing and contained the meanings of auspicious and blessing.

Chinese knotting sprung up in Tang (618 - 709) and Song (960 - 1279) dynasties and reached its heyday in Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties. Because there's no records of when Chinese knotting originated, so it's difficult for archeologists to prove it before the finding of the mould. But the veins of the endless knotting proved that knotting was not only used to remember things but also contained some culture meanings at least in Han Dynasty. Specialist said the mould also made sense in the research of ancient smelt and foundry.

(China.org.cn by Chen Lin September 23, 2004)

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