I was recently visiting DC, and while there I decided to stop by the Library of Congress, because they had an actual copy of O-umajirushi that I could actually look at in person (quite exciting; more on that another time). While I was looking at their catalog ahead of time, I noticed it was under the subject “Banners–Japan.”, and curiously looked at what else was there. What I found was a book called Ohatamoto sōshirushizu (御簱本惣印図; “Shogunal Vassals All Emblem Drawings”) which I’d never heard of before, with a listed publication date of 1634. Not finding anything much about it online, I decided to ask to look at it as well, in case it was interesting. And in fact, it turned out to be quite cool.

In my book and my Pennsic class handout, I mention about how different divisions of an army under a commander might use different variations on the same basic design. You can see this sometimes in battle scrolls, and you can see in O-umajirushi how different devices used by an individual might be variations on a theme, but none of the period sources I’ve seen recorded this system directly. Ohatamoto sōshirushizu is rather small, only 36 pages, but what it does have is variations on a theme: for example, 20 surcoats with the same design but different small mon.


I haven’t had time to examine the text in depth, but its afterward does place it as circa 1634, and it definitely shows a different side of heraldry than other period sources I’ve found in my research. Until I’ve had time to look at it more deeply, check out my scanned copy of the book.

(Research for this post was conducted at the Library of Congress and was facilitated by the staff of the Asian Reading Room.)