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和柄 : Japanese Patterns - Part 1
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和柄 : Japanese Patterns - Part 1

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Traditional Japanese designs, or "Wagara", are traditional Japanese patterns. They are history designs, each with a specific meaning, originally created for decorating traditional garments. The patterns that date back to the 8th century Heian period of Japan, are largely inspired by nature and were crafted using techniques from painting and Chinese calligraphy. They were worn with purpose for different seasons and occasions. However, in the last century this language of pattern was being lost as younger generations shed traditional dress for more westernized clothing. This spurred the use of "Wagara" in homewares and fashion accessories in an effort to prolong the dialect of these traditional Japanese patterns, making them just as relevant and usable today.

 

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麻の葉: ASANOHA

Asanoha depicts a geometric design of hemp leaves. Hemp has long been an important plant in Japan, being the primary clothing fiber along with silk, until the 17th century when cotton was introduced to Japan. It represents growth and good health. Since hemp grows quickly, it was customary to use Asanoha for children's clothes, in hopes that the child would also grow fast and strong.

大麻の葉に形が似ている事から麻の葉という名がつけられました。麻のように丈夫ですくすくと成長してほしいとの願いを込めて、子供の産などに多く用いられる風習が歴史上であったようです。


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絞り: SHIBORI

Shibori is a resist-dye technique similar to tie-dyeing, where fabric is tied off with string to form intricate patterns. When the string is removed, it reveals detailed images. Shibori dyeing requires a lot of time and skill to achieve. The small dot patterns shown above are known as Kanoko Shibori. 

絞りとは、布の一部を防染し、染まった部分とそうでない部分で模様を作る染色の技術を言います。

 

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菊: KIKU

The Chrysanthemum, or Kiku in Japanese, is a symbol that represents longevity and rejuvenation. When first introduced to Japan during the Nara period, the Japanese Royal Family was fascinated with the Chrysanthemum. Eventually, during the passing of the years, the Chrysanthemum become the Imperial Family Emblem. Even now, it is used as the imperial symbol of Japan, even appearing on the Japanese passport.

菊は秋を古来より代表する植物で、桜とともに日本人に非常に好まれている花です。菊は中国が原産で奈良時代に薬草として日本に伝来しました。中国では「仙花」と呼ばれ薬の力を持つと言われています。日本でも中国の習慣「重陽の節句」に倣って菊花の宴を開き長寿を願い菊自体を鑑賞の対象とするようになりました。

 

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七宝: SHIPPOU

Shippou refers to the seven treasures of Buddhism: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, agate, seashell, amber, and coral. All of these are found on the Asian continent and were precious and rare products. Shippo also means "cloisonné," which refers to a decorating technique using metal strips and gems. The pattern represents these beautiful seven treasures inlaid in metal, in an infinitely repeating pattern.

仏教の七つの宝は「金・銀・瑠璃・瑪瑙・しゃこ・琥珀・ 珊瑚」で全てが大陸渡来の貴重で珍しいものでした。これらをちりばめたかのような美しい文様であることが、この名の由来になったと言われます。


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波: NAMI

 Nami, or "wave," was used as a symbol of gods of the seas. This pattern was also seen on banners and armor from the Sengoku Era (the age of provincial wars), in which troops in war resembled a moving wave. The pattern represents strength, with marvelous depictions of churning, flowing waves.

海は海神を祭った神社で神紋として用いられました、流れる水を様式化した文様。戦国自体の旗印や武具には、その戦いざまを波の動きに喩えたような波紋が見られます。涼しさを感じさせることから動きを活かしてモチーフをつなぐ地模様として多く使われます。

 

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唐草: KARAKUSA

Karakusa, or "arabesque", is taken from the patterns found on stalks and tendrils, and the links between leaves and vines of plants. It is a symbol for eternity and sometimes a symbol for a family's legacy, like a family tree in Western culture.

唐草文様とは、葉や茎、又は蔓植物が伸びたり絡んだりした植物文様。複数の曲線や渦巻き模様を組み合わせることで、つるが絡み合う様子を表す。写実的なものもあるが、図形的に描いたものでは、左右対称の渦巻き模様などに簡略されたり、多種多様の唐草模様が存在する。


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青海波: SEIGAIHA

Seigaiha means "blue ocean waves." This pattern has been used in Egypt, Persia, and around the world. In Japan, it is said that the name comes from Seigaiha, the title of an ancient Japanese court dance. In ancient times, it was used for auspicious events. It is considered a symbol of peace, good luck, and good fortune.

日本では雅楽の舞曲「青海波」にちなんでその名がついたと言われ、古来、吉事に多く使われていたため、吉祥文の一つに数えられています。この文様はエジプトやペルシャ(イランの旧称) をはじめ、世界各国で見られます。

 

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縞: SHIMA

This pattern was imported from an island outside of Japan. It came to be known as Shima, which means "stripe." It is said that this pattern was often worn by upper-class aristocrats. The chain-link shima pattern is known as Yoshiwara Shima, referring to the town where the pattern came from. Yoshiwara Shima symbolizes how the town draws you in and hold you, like chains. It has also been described to be the chains linking a community together.

古来、日本では「縞」の事を「筋」、「渡来」を「島物」と呼ばれていました。現在の「縞」という字は「島」のあて字と言われています。また、上代では島物は上流貴族が用いたものと伝えられます。

 

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小紋: KOMON

Komon means "fine pattern", and is a name for patterns made up of tiny, tiny details, appearing like a solid color from afar. Komon patterns were originally only used for ceremonial garments. Komon in modern days is mostly used on Kimono fabric, and is filled with both big or small patterns. 

現在言われている小紋とは、上下方向関係なく模様の入っている着物を総称していわれる事が多いようです。友禅染めなどと区別するために、江戸時代時の羽織や着尺などに小紋染を継承したものを、江戸小紋と言うようです。

 

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亀甲: KIKKO

 Kikko means "tortoise shell." Originally, this hexagonal geometric design came from Western Asia. The tortoise represents longevity in Japan, and is said to live for ten thousand years. Thus, the Kikkou pattern is meant to symbolize longevity.

正六角形の幾何学模様は西アジアが発祥。日本では亀は長寿の象徴とされたため、亀甲文は亀の甲羅に似ているために、長寿延命の吉祥文として伝わりました。


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格子: KOUSHI  

In the Edo period, it was common to have room dividers in a lattice pattern. Thin wood or bamboo was set horizontally and vertically to create this pattern. It is said that Koushi is based off these patterns. Koushi with thicker lines represents power; Koushi with thinner lines stands for elegance.

細かい木や竹などを縦横に組み合わせた格子にちなんだものだと言われています。様々な種類の格子が誕生した江戸時代には、太い格子は威勢の良さを、細かい格子は上品さや枠を表したものと伝わっています。


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鯉: KOI 

In China, there is a legend of a waterfall emanating from a dragon's home, known for its difficulty to travel upstream. There is a saying that if any koi ("carp") succeeds to reach the gate of the dragon's home, the koi will become a dragon. Based on this legend, the combination of koi and flowing water has become an auspicious pattern symbolizing success in life, commonly meaning a successful career.

中国では上流に登るのが難しいと知られる急流の龍門があり、もし登れる鯉がいたら龍になるだろうという言い伝えがあります。この言い伝えから、鯉と滝の組み合わせは、立身出世の意味を持つ瑞祥の文様となりました。 

 

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石畳: ISHIDATAMI 

Ishidatami is also known as Ichimatumoyo (checkerboard pattern). Due to its simple design, Ishidatami was used in many different ways throughout the years. Each new development of the pattern was dictated by the presiding fashion at the time, usually featuring that era's popular color.

石畳は、音、市松模様とも呼ばれています。幾何学的に表された文様は、その簡略的な造形のためか、豊富な種類が展開されてきました。当時、文様に込められた意味はもちろん、現代でいう「流行」とは無縁ではなかったと言われています。

 

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雲&雷: KUMO & KAMINARI

In ancient times, this pattern was called Unki ("cloud air"), because it looks like the rising clouds that come from mountains, where the gods are supposed to live. Now, it can be called Kumo, meaning "cloud." The name Kaminarimon comes from ancient Chinese, and represents a spiraling visualization of lightning.

古来、神仙住むとされていた山中より湧き出る雲を雲気と呼ばれていました。雷門は古代中国の「雷」の文字が渦巻き状だったことによりその名がついたと言われています。 

 

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立涌: TACHIWAKU

Tachiwaku is the pattern resembling rising steam. In the Heian period, the pattern required advanced fabric making techniques. Therefore, it was exclusively used on clothes for the upper class. There are various kinds of combinations with other patterns Tachiwaku.

立涌は雲が立ち涌く文用にしたものと言われ、平安時代以来、織物では高度な技術を要したために、高位の人の衣服などに見られました。様々の文様との組み合わせや、立涌に見立てた文様が残されています。



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矢絣: YAGASURI

The Yagasuri pattern depicts the fletching of arrows, which was an important skill in ancient Japan, but continues to be practiced in modern ceremonies. Yagasuri is often seen in graduations and weddings. It represents steadfastness and determination, as an arrow that is shot straight never comes back.