What is a turk's head knot anyway?

 

 
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: turk's head - n: - a turban-shaped knot worked on a rope with a piece of small line.

Clifford Ashley carefully describes "three distinct types of turks heads that are much the same in appearance, but are differently constructed. They are: (1) the STANDING TURK'S HEAD, which is tied with any number of strands; (2) COACHWHIPPING, which is tied with any even number of strands; and (3) the common TURK'S HEAD sometimes called the RUNNING TURK'S HEAD, which is tied with a single strand."

I urge those interested to read Clifford Ashley's chapter on turks head knots in the Ashley Book of Knots. He goes into great detail of the various types and the methods by which they may be constructed.

This family of knots is a favorite among many knot tyers from a practical as well as decorative standpoint. Common examples of these are the knot commonly seen on a Boy Scout's neckerchief slide and the seemingly endless three-strand braid often found as a bracelet on a wrist. These knots are closely related and have many variations and potential sizes and applications. They make great hand grips on otherwise slippery handles and great decorations on many items.

This family of knots is commonly tied and used by many crafts people and professionals from a variety of trades. I have sold tooling, kits, books and suppies to decorative knot tyers, cane makers, sailors, riggers, yacht builders and jewelers among others.

While there are theoretically an infinite number of these knots that are possible, from a practical standpoint, only a few hundred may be tied without much trouble. Some examples of larger (or more extreme ones) may be found pictured in the early pages of Clifford Ashley's book of knots. The specific knots depicted in Ashley's Book Of Knots are commonly referred to by "ABOK" and then the number of the diagram in the book. Where one of the knots pictured here is also shown in ABOK, the number is noted as well as the page number and diagram number from either the original Turks head Cookbook or the THCB Volume Two as appropriate.

All of the examples pictured here are members of the family of turks head knots and were tied using the instructions in either the original Turks Head Kit or the Turks Head Cookbook Volume Two unless otherwise noted. They were all tied in small (1.6-2.0mm) braided nylon cord.
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