Sunday, October 2, 2011

What rope is used for Shibari?

Shibari rope is traditionally constructed from jute, usually about 5-6 millimeters in thickness, prepared in lengths of 7-8 meters. Practitioners of less traditional versions of Shibari often use alternative natural fibers such as hemp or linen.

Occasionally, non-traditional Shibari artists may prefer to employ rope made from other exotic natural fibers like bamboo, silk, or even coconut coir.   Exotic ropes are often even more expensive than traditional materials like jute or hemp, which themselves are already pretty pricey.

Cotton rope is yet another natural rope fiber that can be used for non-traditional style Shibari.  Certainly, cotton rope is cheaper than other natural fiber alternatives, and often it's more readily available, being found in most any neighborhood hardware store or even in the big box marts that litter the North American landscape.

I used some cotton clothesline for my very first experience with bondage back in 1980.  If I remember correctly, it was even recommended for use by the Joy of Sex.  However, because of it's low strength, cotton rope is much more commonly found in use by Western style bondage practitioners, rather than being seen in actual Shibari.

Although not as commonly employed as natural fiber rope, it's not unheard of for some Shibari tops to use ropes made of synthetic fiber.  Multifilament polypropylene rope (often abbreviated as MFP rope) is a fairly versatile and affordable alternative, however it does handle differently than natural fibers.  For instance, because of it's relative slick texture compared to natural fiber ropes, simple knots used by traditional Shibari are more likely to slip if replicated by MFP rope.

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