One form of kink I’ve been researching lately is Shibari. The ancient Japanese art of using lengths of rope to bind a person with intricate knot-work and /or for restraining purposes. Shibari literally means ‘to tie.’ It originated from the Japanese police and Samurai in the period 1400-1700. Initially a form of restraint for prisoners, it was derived from the martial art Hojo-jutsu. In the 1800s, Kinbaku, an erotic form of the practice became prevalent*. Shibari is now commonly used to describe the practice of BD/SM rope play.
What interests and excites me about the practice is that it:
A. Looks fricking awesome. The patterns that can be achieved are stunning. They are works of art in themselves on a human ‘canvas’ using rope as the ‘media’. Shibari is highly ornamental, as well as functional.
B. It involves a strong element of trust. Both from the person tying the knots, and the individual being tied. The person tying the rope (known as the ‘rigger’) is putting their faith in their bound partner to tell them how they are feeling during the process. The person who is ‘laced up’ is trusting the Shibari practitioner. The latter needs to find out if any of the ties are uncomfortable, the rope chafes or if the position is putting too much strain on muscles.
C. The pleasure derived both from seeing the handiwork and the feeling of the rope lying on the flesh. Not only this, the psychological element of submission. The person who is bound submits themselves physically and psychologically to the Rope Master or Mistress.
The ropes are strategically placed and knotted to stimulate pressure points. A Shiatsu massage effect can be attained with some bindings. Moreover, the use of additional play equipment (floggers, paddles, vibrators among others) can increase the sensation felt by the person being bound.
Ropes that are used are commonly 5-10 metres in length, red /black/ or natural in colour. Composition of the rope is important as the fibres need to be supple and flexible enough to allow manipulation and formation of neat knots. The rope also needs to be strong; its purpose is, in addition to looking attractive, to restrain. It needs durability and to not wear excessively under strain.
Another consideration is the comfort of the individuals tying the knots and being bound. Rope-burns are not at all pleasant. Neither are they attractive. No one wants to go to the office on a Monday morning with tell-tale red marks on their limbs. That would make for awkward water cooler conversation. Elastic should not be contained in the fibres as it can make knots too tight, and trickier to undo.
Materials that tend to be used are cotton, hemp and silk. Cotton is relatively inexpensive, whilst silk is more luxurious. Both are exceedingly strong.Having the appropriate material ensures the rope-work will appear neat and well-placed (this will also depend on the skill of the Shibari practitioner).
Creating the ‘illusion’ means practice
It takes hours of patience and skill to learn to manipulate the ropes. An important feature of bindings is that they’re readily released. Meaning, as the quick-release mechanism on a bicycle saddle makes it easy to adjust the saddle’s height, so the binding of the rope ensures it is readily unbinding. If a restraint position is causing too much discomfort, or the psychological effect on the binder/ recipient is too extreme, the ropes need to be unwound quickly. This means there are not actual ‘knots’ in the rope, but the illusion of knots in some cases.
The person being bound needs to have patience too, as it can be a time- consuming art-form. The aesthetic makes it entirely worth the wait. They say a pictures speaks a thousand words. Shibari makes you feel those words…
How does Shibari make you feel? Please comment, and see if we can reach 1000 words!
* this information was accessed from Kinkly.com on 18th June 2017