The Japanese Mon

I was reminded about the Japanese Mon when I came across this manhole cover design.
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A Mon is a symbol usually based on a some sort of natural form with various degrees of abstraction to make it a simple easily replicable shape. It was used in fabric prints as a uniform to show a family affiliation and on battle standards. The closest western equivalent would be heraldry.

High ranking Mon’s like the three hollyhock leaves of the Tokugawa clan or the chrysanthemum blossom of the imperial household were protected from missuse by both social convention and by law – an early trademark.

If you have seen a Japanese car, TV or air-conditioning unit then you would recognise the stylised three water chestnuts design Mon of Mitsubishi Group.