Frog (fastening)

A frog fastener, also known as Chinese frog closures or pankou knots (simplified Chinese: 盘扣; traditional Chinese: 盤扣; pinyin: pánkòu) is an ornamental braiding, consisting of a button and a loop, for fastening the garment without an overlap.[1] The purpose of frog fasteners is to provide a decorative closure made of cording for the garment.[1] The frog fastener originated from China and were later adopted by the military of Western countries before used in their civilian clothing for both genders, such as their overcoats, spencers, and pelisses.[1]

Frog fasteners are usual to garments of Asian design, such as a shirt or coat with a mandarin collar, which features frog fasteners at the shoulder and down the front of the garment. In the design of a garment, frogging is the use of braided, frog fasteners is a detail of the overall design of the garment.



The frog closures originated in China and were first appeared on Traditional Chinese clothing.[1][2] In China, the Chinese frog closures are known as pankou (simplified Chinese: 盘扣; traditional Chinese: 盤扣; pinyin: pánkòu)[3] or huaniu (Chinese: 花纽; pinyin: Huāniǔ; lit. 'flower buttons') or panhuaniu (Chinese: 盘花纽).[4][5] Pankou knots are key elements in qipao; they are typically sewed at the centre of the mandarin collar and along the diagonal slant opening.[3] Pankou are also used in other garments, such as tangzhuang, qungua and changshan.

Material and Construction

Pankou knots used in the making of qipao dress is typically made out of silk or are made from the same materials as the dress.[3] To create more elaborate shapes of buttons, a method called wiring is used to create the desired shape.[3] There are different types of pankou buttons which differ in shapes and elaboration:[3]

  • Straight pankou (simplified Chinese: 直盘扣; traditional Chinese: 直盤扣; pinyin: zhípánkòu, also known as Chinese: 字扣; Chinese: Zìkòu): the simplest and most common form of pankou consisting of a knot of one side and a loop on the other side.[6]
  • Floral pankou (simplified Chinese: 襻花盘扣; traditional Chinese: 襻花盤扣; pinyin: pànhuāpánkòu): a generic term for any forms of pankou which are more elaborate than the straight pankou.[6]
  • Butterfly pankou (Chinese: 蝴蝶扣; pinyin: húdiékòu): a type of floral pankou which is butterfly in shape.[6]
  • Kumquat pankou (Chinese: 琵琶扣; pinyin: pípákòu): a type of floral pankou which is kumquat-shaped pankou.[6]

Outside of Asia

Frog fasteners close and decorate the bodice opening of a dress.

Military uniforms

The frog closures were adopted by the French military when they observed its usage in the East.[1] The frog closures originated from China.[1]

Frogs and frogging became an important decorative feature on military uniforms from the 17th–19th centuries. This was particularly evident for prestigious regiments, especially cavalry or hussars, and gave rise to the German term for frogging in general, 'Husarentressen'. These dolman jackets were tight-fitting and dominated by extensive frogging, often in luxurious materials such as gold, silver or brass metallic cording or brocades.

Barabás Portrait of a Nobleman wearing Hussar Dress (1833)

The frogging was usually far more than was necessary for fastening. In some cases it even became non-functional, with a concealed opening beneath it and the original jacket opening becoming a false detail. By the later 19th century, for lower grade uniforms down to postmen, telegraph boys and hotel pages, the frogging cordage would be retained as a decoration but there would be no corresponding toggle or opening with it.

In the United States, the frog fasteners were adopted during the War of 1812 when the army regulations tried to promote less European looks.[1]


Many sewers make their own frogs because the results are customizable. Self-fabric can be used to create frogs that are the same color as the garment, though frogs are usually chosen to be a contrasting color to that of the garment.

Frogs are made by looping and interlocking the cording or fabric tube into the desired design, then securing the places where the cords touch by hand-sewing. The frog is then stitched onto a garment, usually by hand. When a fabric tube is used, the fabric is cut on bias. This allows the fabric tube to remain smooth and flex easily when bent into curves.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g The Greenwood encyclopedia of clothing through world history. Jill Condra. Westport, Connecticut. 2008. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-313-33662-1. OCLC 156808055.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Lee, Jaeil (2014). Technical sourcebook for designers. Camille Steen (Second ed.). New York, NY. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-60901-856-6. OCLC 847941465.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Most Beautiful Pankou Knots (Chinese Frog Closures) to Wear on a Qipao". East Meets Dress. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  4. ^ "Evolution and revolution: Chinese dress 1700s-1990s - Cheungsam". Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  5. ^ Metzger, Sean (2015-02-24). "La Cabine d'Essayage (The Fitting Room): Cheryl Sim". Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas. 1 (1–2): 214–218. doi:10.1163/23523085-00101018. ISSN 2352-3077.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Pankou (盘扣/盤扣): the qipao knot button « The Pankou". Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  • Singer 101 Sewing Secrets by The Editors of Cy DeCosse Incorporated,ISBN 0-86573-249-3.

External links

Media files used on this page

HK 尖沙咀 TST 人文藝術購物館 K11 MUSEA mall exhibition 褀袍 Qupao May 2020 SS2 06.jpg
Author/Creator: Zoaghram Dumee, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
HK 尖沙咀 TST 人文藝術購物館 K11 MUSEA mall exhibition 褀袍 Qupao in May 2020
Chinese Cheongsam of Xi.jpg
Author/Creator: Emma Xi, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
This is a typical Chinese Cheong-sam with a close-up of its collar design
Frogs (PSF).png
Line art drawing of frogs.