African dance rattle capsules from Benin, Nigeria and Congo: Plaiting a symmetric, hexahedral shape

Paulus Gerdes

The following paper presents examples of dance rattles from several parts of Africa. The capsules of these rattles from Benin, Nigeria, and Congo are plaited in a similar way. They display a (rounded-off) hexahedral shape and each capsule is made from only one strip of a leaf. A plaited capsule can be represented in the plane as an alternating knot, precisely as a trefoil. The paper shows how to weave a strip of cardboard paper to produce the hexahedral shape.