Still Modern After 1200 Years

Kiku-chrysanthemum-wagara-motif

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

wagara-300WAGARA 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-edo-komon-seigaiha-sneakersWAGARA 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.

kozakura-edo-komon-wagara-motif.pen-300Motifs such a cherry blossoms symbolize fragility and beauty. Cherry blossoms are also revered as symbol for transient and ephemeral nature 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.


Armand

Armand

Armand is the chief editor for Miyazaki Whispers and has lived in Japan since 2003. He has a graduate degree from University of California in Davis in systems science and has managed tech companies in US, UK and Sweden. Armand's interests are haiku, cross-cultural studies and surfing.
Armand
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Armand

About Armand

Armand is the chief editor for Miyazaki Whispers and has lived in Japan since 2003. He has a graduate degree from University of California in Davis in systems science and has managed tech companies in US, UK and Sweden. Armand's interests are haiku, cross-cultural studies and surfing.
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