Japanese Butterfly Art

Interested in butterflies from Japan? Marvel in the history of the beautiful culture of Japanese butterfly art.

The world of art has always drawn upon various elements in nature as a source of inspiration. Amongst the many different elements in nature, the world of the creepy crawly insects has also served as inspiration for many artists. The butterfly, although an insect is one that is neither creepy nor crawly rather it is an insect with immense beauty.

The insect that starts developing inside an ugly cocoon blossoms into a beautiful butterfly. The wings of the butterfly showcase amazing graphics that have inspired many patterns through out history. The Japanese have had their fair share of fascination with this particular insect. The butterfly is most prominently featured on the Japanese family crests.

The Japanese family crest is known as ka-mon. It has been used on banners, weapons, flags and hanging screens as a means of identification. Even the Samurais would wear a ka-mon for the purpose of identification in battle. The pictorial representation of the butterfly reached its artistic heights on the family crest. The Japanese produced extremely balanced and simplified butterfly art that was of a heightened aesthetic quality.

 Japanese tribal butterfly art

A particular tribe known by the name of Taira was known for its fascination with butterfly design. With time the ka-mon became a part of the dress of the noble class. You would find the ruling members of the shogunate to be showcasing a ka-mon in a number of ways on their attire.

The Japanese nobility was very fond of the butterfly pattern. In fact it was by far the favorite pattern of the Japanese nobility. The insect with its elegance seemed to have a great appeal on the Japanese. So much so that they found butterfly designs hard to resist. Ironically the grace and gentleness of the butterfly is quite contrary to the blood shed that took place during the peak of the feudal wars.

Butterfly art is something that lends mystique to the Samurai. On the one side the Samurai was a killing machine whereas the other side of the Samurai was revealed by its fondness with the butterfly. Along with being excellent martial arts experts the Samurais were also trained in art, calligraphy and poetry.

The butterfly was a symbol of balance. In fact the developing stages of the butterfly from the cocoon showed the struggle to achieve balance. This is because the butterfly is a highly organic shape in its initial stages and evolves to become a perfectly symmetrical creature. It is no wonder the insect it self has a feel of nobility.

The history of Japanese art has many different mediums to showcase that involve abstractions of the butterfly. Medieval Japan is known as being the place where butterfly art was most popular. There are tons of hand drawn sketches of the butterfly the balance and symmetry of which can truly captivate the eye of the observer.

 

,

Chuck Melvin says:

I was aware of European family and clan crests, but I did not know about Japanese ka-mon. I am fascinated by butterflies and was glad to find this beautiful creature featured in Japanese crests and Middle Age art.