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Traditional Japanese Family Crests for Artists and Craftspeople
By Isao Honda
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2002 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Japanese Family Crests
The custom of using family crests as a matter of pride on the part of the family still remains in the nations of Europe although it is being upheld by a limited number of households.
In Japan it became a highly important matter of etiquette among the aristocrats and Samurai of the 11th Century to wear one's family crest in formal attire. It is commonly acknowledged that from this originated the custom of family crests in Japan that has been handed down traditionally through the years.
The ancient etiquette stipulated that family crests ranging in size from one and a half to two inches in diameter would be affixed on the front and back of formal attire as well as on both sleeves so that the crests would be clearly visible.
The crest served as a convenient means of identifying the person or his family, especially among Samurais, who at that time were members of the ruling class. The family crests also served as important means of identification when they were displayed on battle flags, on armor and tenting during the many civil wars that marked the era.
Thus, because of the necessity generated, there emerged many different kinds of family crests among the upper class of the time.
Furthermore, as the families increased in size, persons of the same lineage began to make small changes to the original crest in order to particularly identify themselves, thus leading to many variations of the original family crest.
As the custom of using family crests spread through the country, the variety of designs increased and such things as astronomical, physiographical, botanical and zoological objects as well as household utencils and multitude of other objects were incorporated into the designs.
Therefore, the actual total of Japanese family crests that have existed probably outnumbers those in this book by many times.
The various crests you will find in this volume are those that are considered as "classics" of their kind; that is, they are considered a part of the family history.
These crests are entirely different in nature from the modern day emblems that are sported by business firms and municipalities. Also, these crests cannot be protected by law from arbitrary use as in the manner of registered trade marks.
However, the 16-petal chrysanthemum flower crest, which is that of the Imperial Family, is never used by another Japanese who unanimously support the special nature of the Imperial crest.
Excerpted from Traditional Japanese Family Crests for Artists and Craftspeople by Isao Honda. Copyright © 2002 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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