Hollyhock (Aoi)

These family crests (In Japanese, KAMON) are called 'Aoi-Mon' in JAPAN.

Hollyhock crests
Two-laef hollyhock Standing Hollyhock Standing hollyhock divided into right shirt

Tokugawa Hollyhock

Hollyhock for the General Tokugawa
(1)Tokugawa Hollyhock
(2)Tokugawa Hollyhock
(3)Tokugawa Hollyhock
4th Ietsuna 19
(4)Tokugawa Hollyhock
4th Ietsuna 23
(5)Tokugawa Hollyhock
5th Tsunayoshi 23
(6)Tokugawa Hollyhock
5th Tsunayoshi 27
(7)Tokugawa Hollyhock
6th Ienobu 35
(8)Tokugawa Hollyhock
6th Ienobu 31
(9)Tokugawa Hollyhock
8th Yoshimune 23
(10)Tokugawa Hollyhock
9th-11th 13
(11)Tokugawa Hollyhock
12th Ieyoshi 13
(12)Princess Sue
Daughter of 11th Ienari
Tokugawa Hollyhock(13)
Tokugawa Hollyhock(13)

Tokugawa Gosanke

Hollyhock for the Tokugawa-gosanke
Owari Hollyhock 13 Owari Hollyhock 17
Owari Hollyhock 17
Kii Hollyhock 17 Mito Hollyhock 19

Though usually translated as hollyhock, aoi crests were actually modeled after the leaves (and sometimes flowers) of a slightly different perennial plant of the birthwort family, also called futaba-aoi or kamo-aoi.

Though the origin of the crest is uncertain, it is said that some court nobles used the young leaves of hollyhocks to decorate their clothes, carts, horses, etc.., during the 'Hollyhock Festival', a Shinto ritual at the Kamo Shrine in Kyoto. Hollyhocks thereafter became associated with the gods worshiped there. Devotees of these deities sanctified hollyhocks and began using them as their crests. So hollyhock crests are an example of kamon selected for their religious symbolism.

When Tokugawa Ieyasu became the first shogun of the Edo Bakufu, his use of the hollyhock crest made it superior to both the chrysanthemum and paulownia. During the ensuing Edo Period, only the Tokugawa family was permitted use of the hollyhock design. (From 'Family Crests of Japan' ICG Muse, Inc.2001)

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