Japan – land of the rising sun – inspires me in so many ways. When I visited Kyoto and Tokyo I bought a lot of beautiful Japanese paper, with all kinds of patterns. These patterns can be found everywhere; as decoration in temples, at fabrics, pottery and porcelain, paper and a thousand other things. But where do these patterns come from? What do they mean?
Seigaiha or Seikaiha
A wave design made of the arches of concentric circles placed upon one another so that only the upper portion of each set of circles is visible.
The four arcs are meant to be the four oceans (north, south, east and west) surrounding Japans islands. The calm waves symbolize our days repeating calmly and peacefully forever.
It was used in China to depict the sea on ancient maps. In Japan this pattern was used to decorate temples, halls and gates from the 16th century.
This pattern is an abastract shippo tsunagi. Shippo means ‘seven kinds of treasuries’ and tsunagi means ‘with interrelated objects’. The diamond shape can be associated with a sparkle, that is connected to a jewel or treasure.
The pattern comes originally from China.
Same Kommon means Shark Skin Pattern. Sharkskin-like semicircles are placed one of the top of another. Fabric with this pattern is believed as protecting from evil or illness. Traditionally, the bride will bring a new Same-komon Kimono with her.
In the Edo period, each feudal lord had his specific pattern of kamishimo (samurai cloth) and the Kishu family owned the Same Kommon pattern.
Giyougi is a derivative of the Same Kommon pattern. It is also derived from the Edo period. Characteristic of this pattern is the diagonal allignment of the dots.
The komon patterns were made by forcing rice paste throught a stencil of tiny dots, then dying the surrounding fabric, so the dots stay white. In the early Edo period komon were commonly white on indigo.
Matsuba means pine needles from the matsu, the evergreen pine. This tree is considered to be a symbol of longevity and principles.
Of course this is just a small selection of Japanese patterns, there are many more I’d like to show you! Coming weeks I will be working on some new booklets, using these fabulous papers I bought in Japan. Check out my blog every now and then for an update an sneak peek …
If you have any additions or corrections, please don’t hesitate to react!
Last weekend I visited the opening of the refurbished Kunsthal in Rotterdam.
The Kunsthal organized a big party, with several performances and new exhibitions; something I couldn’t miss 🙂 At four o’clock sharp I met one of my best friends in front of the Kunsthal. Time to go in .. lots of people on the street, but where was the entrance? The old entrance was closed, so we decided to follow the crowd … finally we entered the building, through what felt as the backdoor… Once we were inside and found out where we could find the performance of The Kik – a Dutch beatgroup – we also heard that the Kunsthal was very proud to introduce her new main entrance …. haha we never found it, because afterwards we also left through that ‘backdoor’ … a mystery that still has to be solved…
Despite of the entrance-problems, there was a huge crowd, which made it almost impossible to see any of the Marimekko designs. The retrospective of Marimekko’s designs and the meaning of this famous Finnish company over the years was one of the opening exhibitions. I only caught a glimpse of the beautiful designs, patterns and dresses, so I have to go back to take a better look! But, I was lucky that I already could take a sneak peak at these beautiful designs in the book Marimekko in Patterns – a nice gift from my dear friend -. It made me even more curious!
I really admire Marimekko, of course for their designs, patterns and products, but also for their way of doing business. Craftsmanship, quality, knowledge, intuition and pleasure are the basics for their designs. Nowadays Marimekko has stores all over the world, from New York to Tokio, but the production is still based in Finland. In these days of cheap, cheaper and even cheaper than that production, Marimekko explicit chooses to keep the production close to the designers, so improvements can be made easily and they don’t lose their craftsmanship and thorough knowledge of their materials and production process.
A nice quote from the book I want to share with you:
“We need dark to see light, grey to grasp colour, work to notice playfulness,
emptiness to appreciate life…“