Swirl (Tomoe)

The name of the right or left of TOMOE crest is due to the construction method rather than the winding of the swirl.

Three clockwise
swirls
Itakura
swirls
Yin and yang
magatama swirls
Two
counterclockwise
swirls
Three
counterclockwise
swirls

Three clockwise
swirls A
Itakura swirl A Three
counterclockwise
swirls A
Water swirls


Drawing method of swirls


There are various views about the origin of the swirl design. One holds that it was originally modeled after a tomoe, a leather elbow pad used by archers long ago to protect against the bowstring. Other opinions conjecture that it was based on a comma-shaped bead, which was a symbol of family prosperity. It may also have been introduced from Chaina.

Since the tomoe design looks like swirling water, it came to symbolize water, so it was placed on the roofing tiles and gables of house and temples as a charm to ward off fire.

Tomoe is the crest of Hachiman shrine, which is the god of the bow and arrow, so it was used as a divine crest in Hachiman shrines throughout Japan.

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