Planet History

Author Archive for Julia Hartmann

The Japanese Mon – An Eastern Equivalent to the European Coats of Arms? (II): The Emergence of Mon

In my two previous articles on the Japanese mon I have introduced the topic as such. In the first article, I have claimed that there are some similarities between the Japanese mon and European coats of arms. The second article has shown that although mon appear very different from coats of arms at first sight, comparing both in their forms and contents in detail uncovers some fascinating similarities, especially…

The Japanese Mon – An Eastern Equivalent to the European Coats of Arms? (I): Form, Content, Tincture and Blazon

In a previous blog post, I have established that there are several similarities between the Japanese mon and the coats of arms of Europe. But before aspects and perspectives of cultural history can be taken into account, this post aims to focus on the fundamentals, i.e. the mon itself, the images it displays and its blazon. The Japanese mon has a special structure, displaying its content in a unique way. It is a sophisticatedly constructed and often symmetrically composed sign, crafted with much dedication for detail. Yet, although sophisticated, it can be plain and pleasing to the eye. In contrast to the European coat of arms, which is displayed on a shield, the mon’s form is usually circular. It can be depicted within a framing ring, either thick or thin, or stand on its own (i.e. the image alone, e.g. a sakura blossom). Shapes and frames like squares, hexagons or octagons are rather rare. Unlike a coat of arms, the mon stands on its own without any helmet, coronet or crest. Marshalling and cadency as they appear in European heraldry do not exist either. However, a distinction is created by the vast amount of different combinations of elements that make […]

[Intercultural Perspectives:] The Japanese Mon (I) – The Aim to Capture the Moment of Perfection

The Japanese have been aiming to capture the perfect moment of the sakura (cherry-) blossom for hundreds of years now. Yet this aim is very difficult to achieve and in their eyes almost impossible. For that reason, they seek to find it every spring anew. But it is not just the sakura that the Japanese aim perfection for; their whole culture comprises such an aim, especially when it comes to arts. When, for example, creating a kimono (Japanese traditional gown), ikebana (Japanese art of flower arrangement) or Japanese garden, this is done meticulously, delicately and with an exceptional aesthetics. The experience of things such as the sakura blossom and the attempt to capture this specific instant of perfection is of great essential to the Japanese culture. Apprehending and recognising this is a first step to understanding the Japanese culture and thus the subject of this entry: the Japanese Mon. When we think about European coats of arms and heraldry in general, we have a specific image in our mind. But what comes to our mind when we think about Japan? Would you expect that there is a Japanese sign similar to our European coats of arms, which has various aspects […]