A Set of Three Semamori Stitches: Protective Amulets
ca. early to mid twentieth century
small: 3 3/4" x 3 3/4", 9.5 cm x 9.5 cm
large: 5 7/8" x 3 7/8", 15 cm x 9.5 cm
Shown here are three paper cards onto each is stitched a single, decorative design called semamori. These cards were used to practice and to catalog semamori designs.
Although decorative, semamori serve a much more intrinsic function when stitched onto a kimono, usually a child's. Semamori is stitched as a wish for protection for the person wearing the kimono; it is an amulet to ward off malice.
Often semamori can be a simplified stitch to the back of a child's kimono as is shown here or it could be elaborately done as we see on each of the cards. Often the semamori as shown here are used to stitch the tie to the child's kimono, or can be seen on the back, below the nape.
In this case we see pictorial semamori, each one beautifully realized. The flower form is a plum blossom, the centrally placed semamori is an elaborate geometrical composition, and the semamori on the right, the large one, is a complex combination of stylized butterflies seen in profile (maybe) or halved flowers with a center channel of asa no ha or the traditional hemp leaf motif.