It must be admitted that the Western European coats of arms are much more familiar to us and sometimes look much more spectacular than the Japanese ones. We used to see on the emblems images of gold or silver crowns and towers, dragons and vultures, reared lions and double-headed eagles, hands clutching swords and axes, and below is a motto, something like “To execute or die”. Naturally, all this gives the eye a lot more food than the Japanese black and white "diamonds, circles and flowers of different styles." But one should not forget that neither their design, nor their historical value, their Ka-monas, or just the monks (in Japan that is the name of the family emblems), are in no way inferior to the most famous knightly arms, characteristic of Western Europe. True, they are much simpler, but aesthetically more elegant and more refined.
Today, as an illustrative material, you use pictures from the packages of figures of the Zvezda company, which, as it turned out, produces an entire army of Japanese samurai and ashigaru. In this picture from the packaging, we see the ashigaru behind wooden portable shields, which depicts Mon Tokugawa. But they are shot because of them samurai (wearing a helmet with jewelry) and ashigaru in a simple jingasa helmet belonging to the clan Yi, as indicated by the red sashimono with the “golden mouth” pattern. The red sashimono with four white squares belonged to the soldiers of Kögoku Tadatsugu, a subject of Tokugawa, and the green in black dots was Hoshino Masamitsu. Blue Sashimono - with the image of the stock-rose could belong to someone of the kind Honda Tadakatsu. This is one of the variants of Mona Tokugawa, to whom Tadakatsu always faithfully served.
It is believed that Japanese emperor Suiko (554 – 628), whose military flags, as reported by Nihon Shoki (720), decided to acquire his first symbolism, were decorated with his emblem. However, only two hundred years later, in the Heian period (794 – 1185), when national Japanese culture entered the era of recovery, Japanese feudal lords again turned to the idea of family identity. The rivalry among the noble births at this time was expressed in the full romance of love affairs, gallant poetic and artistic tournaments, in the ability to have a delicate feel and to be able to sing the beautiful. So it is not surprising that the noble courtiers at the imperial palace preferred to use for the depiction of family symbols not bows and swords, but exquisite drawings of flowers, insects and birds. That was their main difference from the emblems of feudal Europe, where it was customary to depict predatory animals, armor details, castle towers and weapon. Only lions were invented several types: "just a lion", "leopard lion", "lion rising," "walking lion", "sleeping lion" and even ... "sneaky lion". In this regard, the Japanese monks were much more peaceful, although it was much simpler and, so to speak, more uniform. Simply, the Japanese, by virtue of tradition and their own understanding of art and culture, avoided screaming snobbery, a bright palette of colors, limiting their monks to a simple monochrome pattern.
The motif of the black five-petaled flower was very popular and met on white, yellow, red, and also in a mirror image on white. It is possible that these horsemen are related to the Oda clan.
Connoisseurs of Japanese heraldry calculated that there were only six main subjects of images for monks: these are images of various plants, animals, natural phenomena, objects made by people, as well as abstract drawings and inscriptions with hieroglyphs or individual hieroglyphs. The most popular were the monks, depicting flowers, trees, leaves, berries, fruits, vegetables and herbs. The second group was the objects made by man - there were about 120 in total. These were, most often, instruments of rural labor. The third group included animals and insects, starting with wild geese and cranes and ending with turtles and scorpions. Caught in the drawings of monks and natural objects. For example, images of mountains, waves, sand dunes, the sun and the moon. Often the subject of a mona could be an object like an unusual tree, a mountain stream, or even a mossy stone encountered on the samurai’s way. An animal could usually get into a coat of arms if a family event or tradition was associated with it. Mon could be a reminder of some glorious ancestor. But it also happened that the decorative side of Mona dominated.
Samurai with big field swords no-dati and with red sashimono with monom in the form of four rhombus belonged to Takeda Shingen, and symbolized his motto: “Fast as the wind; as silent as a forest; furious as a flame; reliable as a rock. "
It is not surprising that sometimes Japanese samurai simply borrowed the theme of drawings from the fabrics they liked, including their kimonos, from the fan ornament, or from the jewelry of the old jewelry boxes. Often this happened with various floral designs and ornaments. And especially popular in Japan were such flowers as chrysanthemum, peony, pavlonia and wisteria. In this case, they were depicted on the family’s flags, plates, lacquered bowls, chests, palanquins, roof tiles, paper lanterns, which were hung out near the gate at home in the dark, and, of course, on weapons, horse harnesses and clothing. The first Japanese who decided to decorate his kimono with the family monom was the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (1358 – 1408). Then it became a fashion, and eventually turned into a rule. Ka-monom Japanese are sure to decorate their black silk kimono for such festive events as weddings, funerals and official meetings. Stamp characters have a diameter from 2 to 4 cm and are applied in five specific places - on the chest (left and right), on the back, between the shoulder blades, and on each of the sleeves.
Archers Takeda Shingen.
The most famous monom in Japan was the chrysanthemum flower with 16-th petals. It is reserved for the imperial house, and no one else dares to use it. He is also the state emblem. Figure 16-petal chrysanthemum can be seen on the cover of a Japanese passport and banknotes. Only rarely did the imperial kamon be allowed as a special favor to be used by persons who did not belong to his family. So it was (and even posthumously) in the XIV century allowed Masasige Kusunoki (? –1336) for his truly selfless loyalty to the emperor Go-Daigo, and Saigo Takamori (1827 – 1877), an active participant in the Meiji Restoration and famous rebel. Chrysanthemum mon used and some monasteries, and temples - as a sign of protection from the imperial family.
This picture from the magazine “Armor Modeling” finally shows what a ho-ro in the form of a raincoat is. Waving behind the rider, the ho-ro gave his figure a monumentality, and he was different from the others, which was very important for the messengers. As always, there were dandies who had a ho-ro too long and dragged them along the ground. But then he was turned up and tied to his belt. It is believed that in such a position, the kho-ro could put out the arrows that were thrown to the rider in the back. A gust of wind could turn the ho-ro over and cover the rider’s face with it. That was bad!
Although there seems to be a lot of Japanese monos, there are only 350 basic patterns. But you can add as many details as you like and change their design. It is enough, for example, to add several veins to the drawing of a leaf of a plant, an extra petal to an inflorescence, to place an already existing mon into a circle or square, and even simply duplicate it twice and three times, as a completely new mon turns out. This could be done in the presence of the second or third sons, since the firstborn, usually, inherited the father's mon. Two repetitions in this case meant exactly - “the second son”, and three - the third! In modern Japanese heraldry, there are about 7500 family monbarian emblems.
Very interesting set of figures. The warlord behind the curtains Maca takes the messengers with the horror behind him, while the ashigaru brings him severed heads. Nearby is a signal drum, with the help of which commands were given, and the commander's emblems — an umbrella. Judging by the drawings and emblems on jingasa it could be Uesugu Kenshin. True, the field of the fan should then be blue. But the umbrella was the emblem of many ...
Not every Japanese clan was allowed to have its own mon in the past. At first, they were received only by the family members of the emperor, the shoguns, their closest relatives and the most influential of their close ones. But over time, as is always the case, the favorites of those who came to the ranks of the favorite owners of ka-monov began to fall. The samurai who showed prowess in battle, the shogun also began to reward him personally with a compiled monom (and such an award was considered very honorable, and the shogun was worthless!) Or even allowed to take his own - as a sign of special closeness to his home. But the truly massive use of Ka- monov was made in the Epoch of Warring Provinces (1467 – 1568). Then all participated in the armed confrontation: daimyo, monasteries and even simple peasants. Warriors did not wear uniforms, so they could identify their own and others on the battlefield only by the flags behind them with the monks painted on them. Although the right to Ka-mon was still only among the court and the samurai estate. Neither peasants, nor artisans, nor merchants were allowed to have it. Only the famous actors of the Kabuki Theater and the equally famous ... courtesans could break the ban. Only in the 19th century, towards the end of the shogun's rule, did rich merchants gradually put their own monks on their shops, warehouses and goods. Of course, they did not have permission for this, but the Japanese authorities turned a blind eye because many of them were seriously indebted to the officials of this time. But then after the Meiji Restoration (1868), which completed the feudal period in the development of Japan, all estate restrictions were canceled and anyone who wanted received the right to have a ka-mon.
The most famous Japanese clans of the middle of the XVI century.
Centuries passed, and the interfamily bonds all multiplied and branched, which naturally reflected on the Japanese monk. There was, for example, the tradition of transferring mona through the female line. The woman, getting married, often kept her mother mon. Although the female coat of arms in the new family in size should have been smaller than that of her husband. However, usually the woman took the mon men. But original combinations of monks were also possible - that is, the heraldic symbols of both the husband and his wife were combined in the figure of Ka-mona. As a result, in some well-born families there are up to ten ka-monovs, which have become clear evidence of the antiquity of the genus.
And here you can clearly see the truly huge sashimono of the messenger, as well as the arrangement of various types of sashimono flags. Finally, the top shows the easiest way to fasten it with a rope.
Often, family monks turned into trademarks of commercial enterprises. Thus, the image of the "three diamonds" was first a monomial of the family, and now it is a trademark of the Mitsubishi company. Even the gangster yakuza groups have brought their own monks.
As always, there were people who knew nothing about the measures. These figures show identification marks whose owners just did not know it. Look at the size and quantity. Ashigaru has five markings on the bottom left, and this is only from the back. And mon overlord was supposed to be on his cuirass in front and on his helmet! And one thing is a small icon on the helmet and on the shoulder pads. But when a sign with a monom closes the entire shoulder pad, or a whole sheet is attached to the back of the helmet, this is an obvious search. Surprisingly, the Japanese suffered all this. This is how they developed their famous tolerance.
Today, for a large part of the Japanese, the ancestral monks have largely lost all heraldic meaning and, as it was in the era of ancient Heian, are more likely elements of aesthetics, which, in turn, are very often addressed by artists and industrial designers.