How to tie a rope cincture

Updated July 05, 2018

The cincture is a part of the vestments of clergy and lay worship leaders. It is a rope used as a belt over the alb. Usually white or coloured according to the liturgical calendar, the rope cincture has tassels or knots at the ends. When worn as part of a monk's vestments, there are additional knots tied to represent the vows taken. These usually include vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, although some orders might include others. The rope cincture itself symbolises purity and chastity. While there is more than one way to tie the cincture to secure it at the waist, including an overhand knot, the symbolic knots take a specific form, known as a barrel knot.

Hold one end of the cincture over top of the first two fingers of one hand. Using your non-dominant hand for this will be easiest.

Wrap the cincture across that end to form an X. Continue wrapping it around your fingers to make three open loops. Make the loops loose enough to pass the rope through them while your fingers are still there.

Slip the other end of the rope through centre of the loops.

Pull the rope all the way through the loops, taking care not to let the loops slip away.

Slide your fingers out of the loops and tighten the knot by pulling on it.

Repeat the process once for each vow taken, spacing the knots evenly along the length of the cincture.

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About the Author

Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.