US $254

Kamon (Family crests)
Papers – Washi
Framed size 700 x 500mm
What is it?
Mon or  kamon  are Japanese emblems used to identify a family or business. Kamon are only emblems identifying families, whilst Mon are all emblems.
There are over 5000 different Mon.
It is believed that Kamon were first used by noble families at the end of the Heian Period (794 - 1185).They attached Kamon to their belongings as identifying symbols and to signify membership of a specific clan or organization.
After the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) when Japan was ruled by the Shogun most of the samurai across Japan started to have their own Kamon. The Mon of the samurai clans were designed as practical symbols to be put on flags, helmets and armour so that they could be seen at a glance in battle.
During the Edo Period (1603-1868) Kamon also became popular amongst the common people. At that time only the nobility and samurai clans had surnames, so Kamon were often used to indicate one's "house" instead of a surname. Mon were also adapted by various organizations, in an illiterate society, they served as useful symbols for recognition.
With the end of shogunate rule commoners were allowed to use surnames. This led to the further spread of Kamon and most Japanese people came to have one. 
It was considered improper to use a mon that was known to be held by someone else, and offensive to use a mon that was held by someone of a high rank. The mon held by the ruling clans of Japan were legally protected from unauthorized usage.
There are no set rules in the design of a mon. Most consist of a roundel encircling an abstract figure of a plant, animal, natural or celestial objects. Items symbolizing family crafts, arts or professions were often chosen as a mon. A fan design might be chosen by a geisha.
Fun Facts
  • Mon designs appear in many places: on the ceramic roof tiles of older houses; on senbeisaketofu and other packaging for food products to lend them an air of elegance, refinement and tradition.
  • A woman may continue to use her maiden mon after she marries and pass it on to her daughters; she does not have to adopt her husband's or father's mon.
  • One of the best known examples of a mon serving as a corporate logo is that of Mitsubishi, a name meaning "three lozenges" (occasionally translated as "three buffalo nuts"), which are represented as rhombuses.
  • The logo of music instrument/equipment and motorcycle builder Yamaha, which shows three tuning forks interlocked into the shape of a capital Y in reference to both their name and the origin of the company.
  • On occasions when the use of a mon is required, one can try to look up their families in the temple registries of their ancestral hometown or consult one of the many genealogical publications available.

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