Swirl (Tomoe)

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

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

Swirl crests
Water swirls Three long-tailed swirls Swirl for the Itakura family
(Sugaki)
Swirl for the Itakura family
(Jinuki)
Three clockwise swirls
(Sugaki)
Three clockwise swirls
(Jinuki)
Three counterclockwise swirls
(Sugaki)
Three counterclockwise swirls
(Jinuki)
Two counterclockwise swirls
(Sugaki)

There are various views about the origin of the swirl design. One holds that it was originally modeled after a tomo, 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 China.

Since the tomoe design looks like swirling water, it came to symbolize water, so it was placed on the roofing tiles and gables of houses and temples as a charm to ward off fire. Tomoe is the kamon of Hachiman, the war god, so it was used as a divine crest in shrines throughout Japan. (From 'Family Crests of Japan' ICG Muse, Inc.2001)


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