kikkō is used extensively throughout Japanese and Chinese crafts. It draws its origin from the carapace of a tortoise. The carapace is the upper part of the shell and has a distinctive hexagonal pattern. The tortoise symbolises longevity because they are known to live a long life.
This pattern is also practically used for Kikkō armour. The armour is made up of small hexagonal plates of steel or hardened leather connected to each other by chain armor or kusari and sewn to a cloth backing. Because it is flexible and folding it is sometimes known as Kikkō tatami dou.
There are many beautiful variations of the Kikkō pattern. These include:
– kasane kikkō ni wa (kasane = repeated: kikkō = tortoise carapace: ni = and: wa = ring)
– kumi kikkō (braided/plaited hexagons)
– hanairi kikkō (a flower placed inside a hexagon)