Turk's head knot
|Turk's head knot|
|ABoK||1278–1401 (Chapter 17: The Turk's-Head)|
A Turk's head knot is a decorative knot with a variable number of interwoven strands, forming a closed loop. The name is used to describe the general family of all such knots rather than one individual knot. While generally seen made around a cylinder, the knot can also be deformed into a flat, mat-like shape. Some variants can be arranged into a roughly spherical shape, akin to a monkey's fist knot.
The knot is used primarily for decoration and occasionally as anti-chafing protection. A notable practical use for the Turk's head is to mark the "king spoke" of a ship's wheel; when this spoke is upright the rudder is in a central position. The knot takes its name from a notional resemblance to a turban (Tr: sarık), though a turban is wound rather than interwoven.
Leads and bights
Each type of Turk's head knot is classified according to the number of leads and bights and method of construction. The number of bights is the number of crossings it makes as it goes around the circumference of the cylinder. The number of leads is the number of strands around the circumference of the cylinder, before doubling, tripling, etc. Depending on the number of leads and bights, a Turk's head may be tied using a single strand or multiple strands. Mathematically, the number of strands is the greatest common divisor of the number of leads and the number of bights; the knot may be tied with a single strand if and only if the two numbers are coprime. For example, 3 lead × 5 bight (3×5), or 5 lead × 7 bight (5×7).
There are three groupings of Turk's head knots.
- Narrow, where the number of leads is two or more less than the number of bights (3×5, or 3×7),
- Wide, where the number of leads is two or more greater than the number of bights (5×3, or 16×7), and
- Square, where there is a difference of at most one between leads and bights (7×8 or 8×7).
A two lead, three bight Turk's head is also a trefoil knot if the ends are joined together. (2,n) alternating torus knots are (2,n) Turk's head knots. ((p,q) = q times around a circle in the interior of the torus, and p times around its axis of rotational symmetry.)
Uses in culture
Dartmouth College's First-Year-Trips Safety Team, Vox Croo, traditionally ties a doubled Turk's head knot around each member's wrist upon completion of membership. The knot becomes a bracelet, which is used as an identifying symbol between Vox 'croolings' across class years. Each bracelet contains two colors of string, one black and one that identifies which year the member participated in Vox Croo. Many Vox Croo Chiefs (known colloquially as 'Mox' and 'Pox') upon returning to lead the team, combine their colored strands so that they are recognized for both years of 'raiding life.' The World Organization of scouting uses a variation of the Turk's head knot to affix their neckercheifs and as a fire starting tool. It is an official part of the uniform.
- Simpson, Thomas (June 2010), Ashley's Mauretania Knot & Early Sightings of a Monkey's Fist, Knotting Matters (London: International Guild of Knot Tyers) (107): 28–31
- Shaw, George Russell (MCMXXXIII). Knots: Useful & Ornamental, p.61. [ISBN unspecified].
- Bozhuyuk, M. E. (1993). Topics in Knot Theory, p.3. ISBN 9780792322856.
- "Turk's head knot", Animated Knots by Grog. Accessed: April 2013.
- How to tie a Turk's head knot
- Shurdington (UK Scouting) Turks head Knot
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