Shide (紙垂)

Shide is strips of paper cut and folded in a specific way that are attached to and suspended from Shimenawa (a sacred straw rope), tamagushi (branch of a sacred tree), haraegushi (branch of a white tree), or gohei (wooden wands).

Shide (紙垂) is also expressed in kanji simply with 垂 or 四手. The word 'shide' is the conjunctive form of a verb 'shizu,' and has the same origin as 'shidareru' (hang). Although yu (fiber of kozo (paper mulberry)) was formerly used, most shide today are made of paper (usually hoshogami (thick Japanese paper of the best quality), Mino-gami (paper made in Mino), or hanshi (standard-size Japanese writing paper)).

There are a variety of schools and methods to fold and cut the strips. The best known schools include Yoshida, Shirakawa, and Ise, as shown in the right figure. While those shown in the figure are common ones, there are also those with two or eight folds.

Shide attached to tamagushi, haraegushi, or gohei are tools of purification, but when shide are suspended from shimenawa demarcating sacred or ritual space, they serve to symbolize a sacred border. A Yokozuna (grand champion) of sumo wrestling wears a shimenawa festooned with shide around his ornamental belt during the ring-entrance ceremonies of a sumo tournament.

[Original Japanese]