asanoha pattern

The Asanoha pattern is one of the most popular traditional patterns often seen on Japanese kimono.  Asanoha means: Asa = hemp: no = of: ha = leaf. The regular geometric pattern, though abstract, represents overlapping hemp leaves.

As a geometric motif asanoha has ‘no season’ so it can be worn throughout the year.

Asanoha can be combined with other seasonal motifs including ume and kikko, or feature as the primary element of the design. In ancient Japan, hemp, along with ramie, linden, elm, wisteria and mulberry, were used for making clothing, fibers and paper.

Kei with hemp fibre
fibre, spindle and waste hemp used to weave rougher fabrics

The wives of merchants would wear it, to bring good fortune to the wearer. Because hemp was known for its rapid growth, the pattern was often used for clothes of newborn children.

“…[p]arents hoped that infants wearing it would develop with the vigor and toughness of the hemp plant.” The Book of Japanese Design, Kyusaburo Kaiyama.

6 x diamond construction of asanoha…patterns within patterns within patterns…

Special thanks to Kei of Gallery Kei, Kyoto, who was able to show me the different forms of hemp, ramie and linden fibre as well as the traditional techniques, weavings and fabrics. And a big thank you to Carl for helping me to post blogs again while I am in China!

Yes I am in Beijing now on my way to Shanghai! So much to share about these amazing places!

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