Japanese Crests

Dover Crests 1Dover Crests Collection 1
Dover Crests 2Dover Crests Collection 2

Dover Crests 3Dover Crests Collection 3

Japanese family crests contain numerous designs based on butterflies. With the kind permission of Dover Publications, the links to the left, as produced on the inside front and back covers of the printed version, display 36 recreated examples of highly stylized, symmetrical crests. A complete collection can be found in Japanese Design Motifs. ISBN 0-486-22874-6

Since their introduction during the eleventh century, Japanese crests have become increasingly prevalent and diverse. Initially, they were stylized and elegant motifs used by high-ranking courtier families to formally adorn their Imperial court dress. Throughout history, they have undergone stylistic and symbolic changes. After their initial usage within the court aristocracy, they became popular with the warrior class, who introduced new designs that emphasized simplicity and ease of recognition. After waring stopped, Japanese crests were used in formal wear and became more symmetrical in design. The nineteenth century saw a huge proliferation of motifs. Crests were no longer limited to symbolic representation of families and became identifying marks for cities, corporations, trademarks and badges.