So, where did mon come from? While they’re often thought of as being used for battlefield identification, they didn’t start out that way. The first evidence of what became mon dates back to the Heian period (794–1185), when distinctive designs, some of which derive from Nara period (710–794) fabric patterns, were used by the Japanese imperial family and associated court nobility to indicate things like clan membership and religious affiliation.(ja.wp:家紋) One common design from this period is the simple “Shadowed, Nine Stars” design, shown below, used on an imperial ox-cart.(SH:4) “Shadowing” is the Japanese heraldic term for outlining. Note also the standard arrangement of large numbers of circular things, with one larger one in the middle, and the use of relatively large numbers in period mon.

Mon were initially associated with the court nobility and the Imperial family, and were used as decorations on clothing, carriages, and furniture rather than on banners and other stand-alone identification.(ja.wp:家紋) Still, they were a means of identification, and various court nobility families selected distinctive mon. In addition to geometric designs like this one, flowers, birds, and leaf patterns were common.(TM:45) Meanwhile, while warriors used distinctive banners for battlefield identification, these were of a simpler design. The first evidence of mon used for battlefield identification is in the Gempei War at the close of the Heian Period.(SH:10) We’ll look at some of these mon next time.Watch movie online Get Out (2017)