It is ironic that the first form of Japanese bondage was actually a way of torture. However, as it frequently happens in human history, activities originated in a very different realm end up becoming a cultural staple on its own. Think, for example, on the phonograph. Edison’s original intention was that it served as a tool for the dictation of business letters. The same happens with rope bondage. Even if it originally was a restraining technique, it has now become a form of art. Shibari’s artistic value is out of the question today.
As in any art, there is a technique that practitioners must learn. In this case, the rope technique, which requires a high proficiency in the creation of knots. As any practitioner will tell you, a more than basic knowledge of human anatomy is necessary, too. And, if you are thinking about trying suspension, add to that a certain knowledge of physics and engineering.
Just like any other art, Shibari scenes express emotions that come from the heart and soul of the performers. You cannot do real Shibari with some dummy. Shibari asks for real people with true emotions. There is, undoubtedly, communication in Shibari. If you see a photograph or, better yet, if you see a live Shibari scene, you will immediately feel emotions coming from it.
Just as dance is the art of motion, Shibari is the art of stillness. And just as any musician will tell you that silence is an essential part of music, anyone can recognize that restraint and stillness are as artistic as movement and dance.
All major arts have a tradition, and Shibari is no exception. From medieval Japan to postwar magazines, and from pink cinema to the BDSM community, there is a long tradition of rope bondage as an artistic form. So, when you see a Shibari scene or, better yet, when you participate in one, acknowledge the fact that you are part of an ancient practice. Shibari’s artistic value has been proven.