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Mon (Jp.)

Japanese family insignia or crest. The family crest kamon, informally called a mon, is used to identify an individual clan or family. There are ftousands of different kamon in use in Japan today, most of which are based on the earliest 350 patterns used during the Heian Period.

A kamon is a graphic design worked into a circle or a square. It could portray plants, animals, insects, geographic features, abstract designs and other natural themes such as waves, sandbars, lightning, mountains, snake eyes, fish scales and snow. They can also integrate weapons, coins, tools, Chinese characters, the sun, moon, stars and any other religious or auspicious symbols into the momn.

Since everything in nature had a symbolic meaning there were many things which might affected how a family chose the design or subject matter for its family kamon. Sometimes the subject was related to an occupation or possession. Sometimes an element of nature or a particular animal was chosen to commemorate a particular event which brought honor to the family. Sometimes a kamon was chosen to preserve the memory of a special or famous ancestor.

As an example, the Japanese people designated a stylized version of the flower, in gold, with 16 petals as the Japanese imperial family kamon in 797. The throne of the Japanese 'Midado' is also known as the "Chrysanthemum Throne". The chrysanthemum is a medicinal plant and also a talisman against evil. Another notable kamon is that of the Tokugawa clan, which is a representation of a hollyhock.

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