Smuggler's Knot

Something I've noticed about the menfolk in this port - most of them are dressed askew. All their bandanas on the wrong way, their belts loose and knotted. Has no-one taught these people good taste?
— Ibza Xüfonzayo nobleman
When smuggling goods, it's important to identify yourself to your potential clientele, without revealing yourself to the authorities. In Ibza Xüfonz and Pris Xüfonz, smugglers and their associates use the Smuggler's Knot to do this.


A Smuggler's Knot is a simple knot tied on the left side, using either a bandanna or a belt. This is usually worn on the person, but can also be tied to furniture and other items, particularly in or around shops. This identifies someone as one of three things:
  • Able to take items across borders
  • Able to discreetly sell trafficked goods
  • Able to be bribed to ignore shady behaviour
The knot can also be worn on the right side, which denotes someone as having goods they need smuggling. Whether it is a bandanna or belt does not matter, though if they are of a good quality and make, it implies your services are more worthwhile.
These symbols are used almost exclusively within the two Xüfonz nations, as their borders are heavily patrolled and not legally able to be crossed. Most smugglers operate in or around the city of Godhzam, a Pris Xüfonz exclave surrounded on most sides by Ibza Xüfonz territory, and whose border is heavily fortified to prevent conquest.
Frequency Common
Item type
Clothing / Accessory

Smuggled Goods

Smugglers in the Xüfonz are plenty, and each will have their own specialty. Some only traffic valuables, in particular stolen items which cannot be sold in the home country. Others will only transport things of a more benign nature, with love notes and letters to distant family being very common. A rare few will transport people - sometimes against their express wishes, but sometimes to reunite families and allow lovers to elope.
Telziado Coin Cover
Telziado Coin by Isaac Thompson

Cover image: Summer Camp by Sean O.


Author's Notes

This article was written for the "Describe a common item that is used as a secret symbol in your world" prompt of Summer Camp 2020!

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Grandmaster Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
13 Jul, 2020 07:51

Haha the quote from the nobleman. I can just imagine how aghast they would sound.   Really clever to use knots. :D

Emy x