Traditional Japanese motifs and patterns are loved and admired the world over. Some are over 1,200 years old, yet they still look modern and fresh.
Most people recognize them as “Japanese” immediately, though many cannot explain why. The ones who do, know that they are a Japanese art form called WAGARA.
WAGARA is a living art which traces its origins to Japan’s 8th century Heian period, and is still evolving today. It incorporates elements of brush calligraphy with motifs resembling natural elements and geometric patterns in classic Japanese colors.
Traditionally, WAGARA was used for decorating kimono fabric. Today, it is used by designer for decorating modern fabrics, as wells as accessories, cases, covers, bags, smartphone holders and even body tattoos and nail art.
Motifs and Symbolism
Symbolism has long played a significant role in Japanese art and culture.
WAGARA motifs come in many varieties. One of the most recognizable ones is called Edo-Komon, which uses small and elaborate, repetitive designs. Notable variations have names such as Seigaiha (blue sea and waves), Kozakura (tiny cherry blossoms) and Kogiku (tiny chrysanthemum).
The repetitive overlapping wave patterns of Seigaiha are symbolic of the harmony of ebb and flow of life.
Other motifs such as Kiku (chrysanthemum) symbolizes longevity, endurance and integrity. For this reason, they are often used in designs of family crests.
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