CRESTS OF JAPANESE WARLORDS' CLANS
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The picture above is a parade of the Top Ten among Japanese family crests, i.e. their basic designs have been most often used in cranking up other family crests since before the first thousand years. Besides the 18-petalled golden chrysanthemum, which is the Imperial Family's crest, the most widespread crest designs consist of the following (the clans that are mentioned first are those whose crests are shown as examples of each category in the main picture above):
Some used dots to form flowers and such -- like the famous clans under Oda Nobunaga's overlordship: Maeda, Kuki, Tsutsui, Hosokawa. The Chiba clan also used dots as flower petals.
The Rusu, Nasu, and Kusunoki clans incorporated a chrysanthemum in their crests, signifying the imperial DNA in their ancestors' veins.
A warlord's clan preceded the Meiji to World War II flag: the Ryuzoji's crest has already been featuring sunrays since 14th century.
Crests were thought up based on a good many considerations, and a great chunk of those couldn't survive being rationally vivisected. Handles, for example, which surround the Akagawa crest, meant good luck being pulled into the person fluttering the crest. In this case Oda's crest had its flower petals to resemble handles a bit, too.
Japan has, until today, a 'flower language' of its own. Since flowers make a lot of family crests, maybe you'd better check out what every flower means to the Japanese (click here).
There are beautiful samurai crests such as Akagawa's, Taira's, Nagano's and Yagyu's:
And there are hard-to-fathom crests like the ones belonging to the clans of Araki, Hineno, Mogami, and Soma:
There were complicated and hard-to-emulate crests like the ones upheld by the Akita, Date, Muneshige, and Tada clans:
And there were those very famous clans whose crests were much too simple to forget (and too hard to be seen as crests when stencilled on daily stuff), such as Kuroda's, Kato's, Niwa's and Takemata's coats of arms:
While a few warlords of 16th century already fluttered 'modern' and 'postmodern' or 'contemporary' or (in their times) 'futuristic' designs over their luggage, like the crests of the families of Suganuma, Hatakeyama, Hojo, Horio, and Ujiie:
The use of family crests in Japan is usually said to have started in Heian era (around the year 750), but in real life even when the capital city of the country was still in Nara (around 600) some people already put on some crests on their belongings. Even when Nara didn't exist yet -- the capital was in Asuka, in 500's -- Empress Suiko has put some symbols on her banners, for a very practical reason: she went to war a lot, and it was hard for her men to see where she was any given time in battlefields. She ordered her Generals to do the same because otherwise she couldn't scold the underachievers in the aftermath of such battles.
Why did the Japanese bother to find family crests? Because since the year 500 there were too many noblehouses already, especially those whose daily biz was loitering around the Imperial Palace but nowhere around the Imperial succession line.
Princes #7 and subsequent siblings had to move out of the Imperial House and made their own families, which in time evolved into clans. Asuka in late 500's was reportedly already crowded with such noblepersons.
They all might have had some home addresses far away inland, but they kept mansions in the capital city, and those mansions were full of retainers, servants, errand-boys, cooks, dealers, and so forth. Those people might carry their bosses' (i.e. their lords') stuff -- carriages, litters or sedan-chairs, oxen, horses, food trays, vegetable baskets, etcetera in public places and public events; so the stuff simply must be marked by something as somebody's property or else -- whatever might happen.
So that's why in 700's people put family crests virtually everywhere, from carts to arrows to tiny weeny tea cups.
Click on to the next page for more samurai family crests, battle-banners, battle-standards, and all the clutter around warlords in battlefields every time around because of this thing named 'mon'.
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All rights reserved. Every borrowed image at this site is put for non-profit educational purposes only.
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