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Japanese Patterns

Japanese Sashiko Pattern

Japanese Embroidery Patterns

The term “ornamentation” refers to figures and patterns intended to beautify objects.

Ornaments never stand on their own. They always rely on a foundation. Ornamentation is said to be a solution to man’s intrinsic fear of emptiness and his need to fill vacuums. Thus man has valued ornamentation since primitive times, and has employed decorative patterns which reflect the tastes and values of the day.

Traditional Clover pattern

Most figures and patterns are simplified representations of man’s view of nature and the world, shaped and ordered within boundaries. Among Japanese figures one can find a variety of designs, some modeled on real objects, others symbolic of natural phenomena.

Seven Treasures Sashiko Pattern

Some figures are composed like a painting, but Emoyo “patterns” usually refer to graphic shapes which could be used alone as decoration r could be composed of repetitions of figures. Yet, while a pattern evolves from a graphic form, it is quite different in nature from fine art, which can be seen as a pure expression of man’s essence. While fine art tends to be individual expression, patterns develop from common feelings and world views.

Forms which are combined into a symbolic pattern of those with a specific meaning are often called Mon (crests). These include family crests, highly abstract and refined symmetrical patterns which date from the Kamakura period (12th century), and are modelled after plants, animals, natural phenomena, tools, geometric shapes and characters.

Family Crest of Tokugawa (3 inward-pointing, circularly enclosed hollyhock leaves)

Traditional Japanese Sashiko Pattern
Traditional Japanese Sashiko Pattern

This article is extracted from Sashiko Blue and White Quilt Art of Japan by Kazuko Mende and Reiko Morishige.

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