mon'you 文様
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also written 紋様. A design pattern, frequently using geometric shapes or abstracted images of natural or man-made objects. The term has recently been used interchangeably with *moyou 模様 and e-moyou 絵模様 although the terms are not exactly synonymous. The term mon'you properly refers to decorative, single motifs mon 文 or 紋, as in family crests kamon 家紋, or a repetition of those motifs. Although the term mon 文 appears in documents of the Nara period for certain types of patterns, it gradually took on the meaning of the Nara period term for figure or motif, kei 形 as well. The use of symbols imon 異紋 such as the lavender color or representations of the wisteria fuji 藤 for the Fujiwara 藤原 clan, developed among members of the imperial family and aristocracy during the Heian period. The origin of family crests as known in the present-day goes back to the 12-13c when military clans sought to differentiate families from one another especially on the battlefield. Simple, clear designs including geometrical patterns were favored bukemon 武家紋. The use of family crests spread during the Edo period, when the urban classes began using a variety of motifs to decorate clothes, architecture furniture, or crafts. These were abstracted not only from images of plant, animals or other natural forms, but represented various tools, and other recognizable occupational or daily objects as well.


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