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Seigaiha (Blue wasves of the Ocean) - Japanese patterns meaning

The word “seigaiha” (or seikaiha) 青海波 is composed by three kanji which respectively means blue (青), ocean (海) and waves (波).

It evokes the waves of the sea, calm and quiet, but also powerful and resilient as they keep crashing incessantly on the shore. It`s also symbol of rising good luck.

Universal symbol, it was introduced in Japan in the 6th century but it was previously used also in Chinese maps to depict the sea and other ancient civilizations like Egypt and Persia.

Some authorities suggests that it was popularized in the Edo period (1603-1867) after the artist Seikai Kanshichi (青海 勘七) invented a way to paint the design using a special brush.

It's also the name of an ancient dance where the pattern was used on the dancers clothes.

"In the most beautiful season and with tinged autumn leaves,

Hikaru Genji is dancing a Seigaiha, at a longevity celebration.

His appearance is ethereally beautiful."

[Chapter 7, The Tale of Genji]

Examples of seigaiha pattern used on different supports:

Consult the complete list of Japanese symbols HERE


Kimono Patterns - A guide to their rank and seasons (Sekai Bunka Publisher)


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