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Model of a bonsai tree, an engagement present made from Mizuhiki

Mizuhiki (水引) is an ancient Japanese art form that uses a special cord.

The cord is created from rice paper, that is tightly wound, starched to give it stiffness, and then colored. The ways of coloring include brightly colored Mylar (a very thin plastic), thin strands of silk, or simply painted. The art form was used to tie up the hair of the samurai.

Currently there are several forms. The traditional decoration, given away at Japanese occasions, such as weddings, births, and funerals take the forms of animals or boats. Different animals are created for different meanings, including cranes, frogs, fish, dragons, and turtles are among the most popular. The other traditional way the art is done is in decorating cards with little colored knots, similarly to how people in western cultures use a ribbon and bow. A third way is being developed that uses the ancient art for a more modern purpose, jewelry.

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