Monday, March 22, 2010

Common Motifs: Sakura

The cherry blossom, or sakura 桜, has long held a special place in Japanese culture, and that popularity is reflected in the number of cherry blossom motifs one can find in kimono and textiles. (The character itself means a woman next to a tree under blossoms.)

A spring motif, it's at times confused with its winter predecessor, the plum blossom (ume 梅). How can you tell them apart? Sakura petals are typically shown as a little more angular and/or have a tiny fringe or notch in the middle of each petal, while ume blooms are portrayed as more rounded, plump flowers with smooth petal edges.

Here are some sakura examples, from various kimono:

And here are two ume ones:

Images copyright Ichiroya and used with permission.

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