The tomoe appears in many designs with various uses. In its simplest, most common patterns, simply containing one to four tomoe, are reminiscent of other patterns that can be found worldwide, especially in areas close to Japan. When circumscribed in a circle, it often appears in a set of three, with this design known as the mitsudomoe (三つ巴).
Theories of its originEdit
The origin of the tomoe is uncertain. Some think that its name originally meant tomoe (鞆絵), or drawings on tomo (鞆), a round arm protector used by an archer, whereas others see it as a stylized magatama.
Symbolism and usesEdit
Some view the mitsudomoe as representative of the threefold division (Man, Earth, and Sky) at the heart of the Shinto religion. It was also associated with the Shinto war deity Hachiman, and through that was adopted by the samurai as their traditional symbol.
The two-fold tomoe is almost identical in its design elements to the Chinese symbol known as a taijitu, while the three-fold tomoe is very similar to the Korean tricolored taegeuk. Also note that the negative space in between the swirls of a fourfold tomoe forms a swastika-like shape, which is fairly prominent in many Eurasian religions such as ancient Indo-European religions and later Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
- Gankyil, a symbol in Tibetan and East Asian Buddhism composed of three swirling and interconnected blades
- Lauburu, the Basque cross
- Mon (emblem)
- Triskelion, a widely used, ancient, triple-branched design based on either interlocking spirals or three bent human legs
- Gogok, a comma-shaped jewel found in the Korean Peninsula
- Pig dragon or zhūlóng, a zoomorphic stone artifact produced in neolithic China with a C- or comma-like shape
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tomoe.|
- Japan Emblem Library - tomoe design patterns (in Japanese)
- JAANUS/ tomoemon
- The Shinto Trinity
- Aikido Sangenkai: Mitsu-domoe at the Kami-Shirataki Shrine
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