- 1 Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings
- 2 Motif Examples
- 3 Motif in Literature & Other Usage
- 4 Article Notes
Azami means thistle and generally refers to the Japanese wild thistle (Cirsium japonicum). Azami are known for their prickly leaves and an enlarged spiny base to their flowers. Azami usually bear purple flowers, but the flowers can also be pink, yellow, or white. The flowers are pollinated by insects, including butterflies.
The young spring leaves and the roots of azami are edible and its rhizomes were used medicinally.
Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings
Azami blooms from May to August depending on the elevation. In chado, it can be used to decorate during furo season and is an exception to the general rule that flowers with thorns are not displayed.
Motif Connotations & Symbolism
Azami is considered a relatively humble flower and is not used as the main motif on formal kimono or obi.
Common Motif Pairings
Identification & Style Variations
Azami is most easily confused with tanpopo (dandelion). Both have serrated leaves, but azami's flowers always have a distinct enlarged base beneath the petals.
Detail of azami on Nagoya obi from the collection of Whitethistle
Motif in Literature & Other Usage
Azami is associated with Seikichi, a famous thief who was nicknamed Oni-Azami (Demon Thistle). The real Seikichi was executed in 1805, but he remained a popular character in kabuki and ukiyo-e. He is often shown with azami behind him or with an azami tattoo.
Hokusai's woodblock at right is inscribed with the following poem by Tōha (桃坡):
|暮るまで||Kureru made||The thistle grows|
|日あたる岸や||hi ataru kishi ya||on banks bathed in sunshine|
|花薊||hana azami||right until dusk|
Relevant Threads / Discussions
- Sasaki Sanmi. Chado the Way of Tea: A Japanese Tea Master's Almanac. Tuttle Publishing, VT. 2011. p. 27.
- Nitanai, Keiko. Kimono Design: An Introduction to Textiles and Patterns. Tuttle Publishing, Vermont. 2017. p.76.
Authors & Contributors
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