| A repeating
six-sided geometric design that resembles the leaves of the hemp plant,
asa 麻. The design has six identical diamonds arranged around a central
point. Although used throughout ancient Asia, only in Japan was it said
to resemble the hemp plant. The asa-no-ha is found on the clothing
of Buddhist statuary of the Heian through Muromachi periods. This design
was particularly popular during the Edo period, when it was promoted by
Iwai Hanshirou 岩井半四郎 (1776-1847). Since the hemp plant grows straight, it
often was used in children's garments to encourage their healthy growth.
The simplicity of the asa-no-ha design allowed for various interpretations,
contributing to its continued popularity. In the applied arts it was used
in dyeing, weaving, papermaking, and woodworking.