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Chinese Knot

Designation for a decorative, mystic knot, with a seemingly endless and repetitive pattern, which is hence a symbol of longevity and eternity. Entangled like a Gordian Knot, it also represents the intertwining of wisdom and compassion, as well as the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs. These knots, commonly known as Chinese knots, are good-luck charms, believed to ward off evil spirits and have both cultural and religious purpose. They are tied using just one thread and come in a variety of shapes and colours, though most commonly it is red, the colour that symbolizes good luck and prosperity. They are typically given during special events, such as Chinese weddings and Chinese New Year, with the size of the knot reflecting either the importance of the event, the receiver or the giver. In that sense, Chinese Knots are somewhat reminiscent of the mongkon used in Thai wedding ceremonies (fig.), where two cords are joined to make a knot and literally tie together the married couple. Chinese knots are also made or cut from other, often more durable materials, such as jade, and also occur in art and architecture, or in printed form, in which cases they may be stylized (fig.). The Chinese eternal knot is one of the eight auspicious symbols or Ashtamangala (fig.), that Buddhist missionaries brought from India to China. Also called Chinese Knot of Eternity and in Thai known as ngeuan rai plaay, meaning ‘knot without a tail or end’. In some ways, it is reminiscent of a Christmas ring, which also has no beginning or end, and is hence a sign that it is eternal, just like God. In Chinese, the eternal knot is called pan chang (盘长).