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From ZeroWikiRope Shrine Maiden during the Strangling Ritual. Their purpose is to be used in the Ceremony of Ropes to bind shut the Hell Gate of the Himuro Mansion. If the maiden used to create the ropes had any lingering earthly attachments, the ropes would not be strong enough to hold the gate shut and the ritual would fail, causing The Calamity.
This term was not mentioned in English until the third Fatal Frame game. Its Japanese name, "saki-nawa", is derived from the Japanese name of the Strangling Ritual, "saki-nawa no gishiki" (literally meaning "ritual of the tearing apart by ropes").