Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Kamon crests roundup

Kamon, Japanese family crest designs, have inspired a lot of the blocks in both 'Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match' and 'Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks'. I also use them as a design source for my sashiko, including a selection in the Sashiko Furoshiki workshops and the sashiko courses I teach.

You can read about the history of mon here - the link includes some illustrations. There are thousands of different designs. As well as being used as the equivalent of heraldic crests, mon are also used as more general designs.

Here is the Aoyama family crest decorating many different items in the nineteenth century Aoyama house in Yuza-machi, Yamagata Prefecture - rooftiles, storage boxes, lanterns and noren curtain.

The triple comma (tomoe) is the crest of the temple at Mt Haguro - shrine noren and pillar carving. The third photo shows the same crest used on a man's formal kimono, probably not linked to the shrine at all.

Some other crests from kimono.

Crests used as obi designs -

Two obi where the same crests are shown in different styles -

Crests often featured on tsutsugaki (rice paste resist) dyed textiles, which were included as part of wedding trousseau.

This kamon is carved on the outside of a friend's family kura storehouse.

You can find books of family crests to use as a starting point and there are also websites featuring kamon designs. Old crest books include instructions on how to draft the designs. They also show how to draw many designs used for sashiko.

These old books don't leave my house, so I thought you might like to see some pictures here. I am considering scanning them and putting the designs onto disk - would anyone be interested in these?


Anonymous said...

I would be interested in seeing this book. I think anyone interested in art and needlework would love to see it. How many pages are there?

Susan Briscoe said...

There's three of these crest books, so that's quite a lot of pages and quite a bit of scanning. I'll look into doing it, though probably not enough time until July, so maybe in time for Festival of Quilts.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting Susan - thanks. It's good to see them on the buildings - I hadn't appreciated how they would be used - just knew of them on textiles and hadn't thought further.Jill