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Hand Cut Paper Family Crests

Written on October 1, 2008

Mon, or family crests, have a long history in Japan.  Originally used by the ruling class–and said to have developed around the 12th century, first to identify soldiers on the battlefield–mon are ingeniously designed and are usually circular in format.  The subjects of mon are drawn from a variety of sources and we can roughly categorize mon imagery from the categories of heaven and earth, plants, flowers, trees, man-made objects and ideographs.  In each case, there is an exquisite sophsitication in their rendering.

Although once the province of the elite, in later epochs mon were democratized and were adopted by a wide swath of the Japanese population: mon appear on formal kimono as well as on country textiles, especially on indigo dyed items used for the bridal trousseau such as yogi (sleeping kimono), furoshiki (wrapping cloths) and the like.  I’m not sure what was the purpose for this small collection of contemporary paper cuts, however they are beautifully decorative and I have a huge stash of them that I bought in a big lot in Japan.   This set of ten are available on my site.


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