Creating the Turk's Head

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The Turk's head is a decorative knot used to reprsent the Dharma Seeds. Out of these turk's head knots the horsehair streams, representing the Dharma teaching.


We begin by selecting a one-meter length of .020" bead cord (Griffin's Polyamid #8). Dip about 1/2" of the ends into cyano-acrylic glue. This will seal the cut ends against ravelling, and also form a handy self-needle to help tucking the cord into the knot. Fold it over the left hand (or right, if you are left-handed) so the two legs are of equal length.


Bring the end from the leg behind your hand and create a second loop. Lie the loop flat on the palm and capture its end between your index and ring fingertips. Note that the end of the loop lies under its beginning, not over.




Continue by bringing the other standing end of the line and passing under the end being grasped between your fingertips, and alternating over and under the other members of the loop, as shown. Pass the other standing end under the loop on the other side of your hand (not shown) to complete the knot's set-up.




Next we will pick up the results and remove it from the left hand. The pick will occur in the two loops marked with ink X on my hand, using two fingers as illustrated at right.



We pick up the knot formed thus far and work the slack out of it, as shown at right.




Then we place it on a short piece of 3/8" dowel. This will be our working form for finishing the turk's head. Our next step is to work more slack out of the knot by inserting a pair of tweezers or some such tool (Sailors use a fid or marlin spike for such work--at a far larger scale!) under the windings of the knot and, grasping the two ends, pull and working back and forth. We want a bit of slack left in so that more cord can be worked into the knot. Experience will teach you just how much slack to leave in. It's best to get a good balance now, as it will become progressively more laborious to work out all slack as the knot receives the two more turns needed to complete it.

Now that we have the slack out, we are ready to begin forming the subsequent turns of the know. Find one end and pass it round the knot until you encounter the place where the other end of the cord exits the knot. Send your selected end alongside that path, retracing where the other end came from exactly.


It is very important to stay on one side or the other of the cord you are following. Having the excess slack out of the knot will be a tremendous aid to this care, as the knot will support the turns you are weaving onto the knot. As you notice slack accumulating, stop to work it out, to maintain a nice supportive shape in the knot.


Now continue around, the knot acquiring the shape shown at left. When completed the second turn of the cord all around,the knot should look as seen at right.




Continue around the knot for a third turn, completing the knot. The central knot will be 1/2" in diameter and thus should be built on a 1/2" dowel form. It will require a fourth turn. After completing the last turn, tuck the ends under the knots, choosing a position on the knot to do that so the disappearance will not be noticed in the pattern.



Dwain Wilder

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