Those who hunt by night will tell you that the wildest, most vicious of all animals is the tiny shrew.
The shrew feeds only by the dark of night. He must eat his own body weight every few hours or stave to death. The ravenous shrew eats everything, bones, flesh, marrow… everything.
Intro from Attack of the Killer Shrews 1959
The size and number of knots in hair, tied around neck, or hanging from belt could signify family, importance, worship, guild affiliations. Being able to translate the meaning of the size and placement of knots can give you a a large understanding of who somebody is.
May be used in a more barbaric society. Where in cities peoples clothes and crests show who they are, barbarians have no need for this so use knots.