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Japanese Design Motifs: 4,260 Illustrations of Japanese Crests Paperback – June 1, 1972
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From the Back Cover
This collection presents more than 4,000 individual designs in the 900-year-old tradition of Japanese family crests. Through constant variation and invention over the centuries, this has become one of the richest graphic art traditions in the world.
Most of these motifs are circular, and they can all be fitted into a square. Within those limitations is a seemingly endless range of designs, beginning with the dozens and dozens of root motifs—rice plant, gingko, scallop, lightning, anchor, spool, raft, candle, scissors, fern, saki bottle, lotus blossom, mountain arrow, pine, wisteria, ship, rabbit, and scores of others. Practically every kind of plant, bird, animal, natural phenomenon, and manufactured object of Japanese culture was at one time or another included in a family crest. In addition, each of the root designs was treated to dozens of imaginative variations—they were reproduced bilaterally, in triangles, diamonds, five- and six-pointed stars, in spirals, were built up in series, made to overlap, combined with each other, and so on. Some of these are classic and recognizable designs, like the yin-yang, linked rings, and treasure knot. Many of the others have rarely been seen in the West.
Graphic artists, textile designers, pattern-makers, advertisers, and other commercial artists looking for an untapped source of novel, appealing designs will find a wealth of material here. Some of these motifs can be used to suggest an exotic flavor, and others are universal and can be used almost anywhere.
Dover unabridged publication of the catalog originally compiled around 1913 by the Matsuya Piece-Goods Store, Tokyo.
Top Customer Reviews
While the Matsuya catalog does provide a cyclopedic view of late nineteenth century notions of what kamon should look like, it does not provide reliable information for those interested in premodern Japan. This is a problem shared with most books about kamon whether in English or Japanese. However, there are a few books available in East Asian libraries and some even currently in print in Japan which do link kamon to clans, families, regions, historical periods, and even specific individuals. If your interest in kamon is of a historical nature, I recommend that you seek these out. If, however, your interest is primarily artistic, this is a fine book with well rendered depictions of a vast aray of these designs.
If you are interested in what Japanese military bearings looked like in the early 17th century, then you would do well to acquire a copy of O-umajirushi: A 17th-Century Compendium of Samurai Heraldry by Xavid "Kiho" Pretzer. This work contains images of a variety of flags, battle standards, and other military bearings many of which incorporate kamon.Read more ›
Not something you can use for research, but it you are looking for inspiration, this is a book for you. I started putting yellow post-its on the designs I wanted to use (quilting, cross-stitch, stained glass), but I soon gave up when I realized that I was marking almost every page.
This is one of those rare design books that is well worth the money.
Like other Dover art books, this one is primarily for artists and designers, rather than for students of history/culture. (I used these images for stencilling, during an Anglo-Japanese makeover of our 1870s-era house--and discovered that "chinoiserie" abounds, but "japanesque" is rare. This book became part of an invaluable, and small, set of resources.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More good design per $ than literally anything else I own, perhaps! For some reason, used copies of this terrific design / inspiration book sell for pennies, and there are... Read morePublished 1 month ago by C. Craig
This book delivered exactly what I needed and more than what I expected. The book is not long winded in text it simply provided me with a large and detailed compendium of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert Eliason
The book is great, but the seller was VERY mis-leading in description of "very good". Book arrived very worn and pretty jacked up - poor to fair at best. Read morePublished 11 months ago by A
Almost no designs. Just tiny little circular patterns. You would think there would be some Dragon patterns and more variety.Published 16 months ago by Jeff Chart
Found the idea to get this book in an art class. We have a graphic design business that creates signage, logos, and advertisements. Read morePublished on January 29, 2014 by Melissa Keeton