Friday, July 30, 2010

What Do You Call...? - Those (Usually White) Circles

If you look through vintage kimono, you'll run across more than one that has small circles dyed or occasionally embroidered up along the top. They're family crests, called "kamon" 家紋, or "mon" for short. Mon can feature abstract shapes, manmade objects, or flora/fauna, and are always set in a circle or designed so that they would fit into the basic area of one. They add formality to a garment, in this order:

- No mon
- 1, middle of back
- 3, 1 middle of back and 2 on each side of chest in front
- 5, 1 middle of back, 2 on each side of back, 2 on each side of front

Once heavily restricted, in modern times mon have become a free-for-all where any family can take on any crest, so you can't really use them to trace a kimono's ownership.

Above, crests on the back of a kimono. Below, a different crest. Images courtesy Ichiroya and Wikimedia, respectively.

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