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A closer Look at the Posament Knot P16b

When I started making posaments some 10 years ago no high-resolution photographs of the original finds were available. There were the black and white images from Birka III and low-resolution photographs published by the SHM on their online database. All those images lacked the details to see the exact braiding of the wires. My reproductions were made from assumptions on how the original pieces could have been made. And some of those assumptions proved to be wrong when newer photographs with high resolution and a lot of detail were published.

Posament Knot P16b

I recently looked in detail at the threefold cross knot P16b from grave 524. I knew from a quick look at newer images already a while ago that I‘m making it the wrong way. But until now I never tried to find out the right way to braid that Posament knot.

Gold Posament P16b from Grave 524
CC BY 2.5 SE, Ola Myrin SHMM 2016-08-04

Braiding diagram

Until now I made the threefold cross knot like the long posament braids with two double wires (image below). It was just a very short version of the  longer braids like P4, P5 or P6.

Braiding diagram P4, P5, P6
Braiding diagram of the Posament trims P4, P5, P6

But looking at the image it‘s clear that the original P16b is made from just one double wire. The technique is similar to the small cross knot P16a or like the cross braid P8. Three small crosses are braided in a row and overlaid at their ends to form the impression of the threefold cross.

Braiding Diagramm of the Knot P16b
Braiding Diagram of the Knot P16b

The first two crosses are made the same way while the third cross is done differently. It looks very irregular and is not as tight as the others. Looking at the picture below you can see the three different crosses and how they are connected.

Braiding Diagram of P16b in 3 colors
Diagram in three colors to better show the connections of the crosses

My Reproduction

I sat down and practiced to braid the posament with cheap brass wire. After a few evenings, I got it right and made a few of those in gold-filled wire. Those were a lot easier to make because the wire is so much softer than the stiff brass stuff. 

The hardest part is the connection between the second and the third cross because you have to work the wire through the already very tight right arm of the second cross. You need to take that into account when doing said arm and let a little bit of room for the wire to go through one more time.

Reproductions of P16b
Two of my reproductions of P16b made from gold filled wire

c  Reproductions of P16b

At the moment I still have the old version for sale but I will change that soon and put posaments with the new braiding technique on birkaposamente.de.


Many Thanks to the Historiska museet for sharing all the photographs of the original finds under a CC license in their online database!

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