The origin of Kamon seams to go all the way back to 900 years ago in Heian Era. The history tells that Saionji, a court noble, used Tomoe (a comma-shaped design) as their crest, and it was decided as a mark on oxcart for high personage. The use of this mark soon be expanded and was used to mark on furniture, dishes and all kind of belongings. This custom has spread in the noble class and it gradually became the crest to each noble family.
One of my favorite motifs to use in Sashiko are family crests (Kamon in Japanese). They are very compact and suitable for adding partially to any projects.
This crest started to be used among Samurai in Kamakura Era in much more practical purpose. It was so very important to distinguish between the enemy and the ally and Mon was clearly marked on their flags for this particular purpose. Upper class Samurai also used his crest on his tent on the battle field.
The family crest for Samurai was quite different from its elegant design of court nobles. Samurai’s mon should be easy to draw and easy to distinguish from the distance.
When Edo Era (1603 to 1868) with Tokugawa Shogun approached, which consider being a peaceful era, the meaning of the mon has shifted from using in a battle field to be more fashionable meaning and recognition. It was adopted among commoners such as merchant, artisan guilds, temples and shrines, theatre troops and even Yakuza (Japanese gangs).