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Motif Information
Motif Bachi 01.jpg
Rōmaji Bachi
English Bee
Kana はち
Season Spring
Seasonal Exceptions Autumn
Auspicious No
Motif Type Insect

Bachi refers to the Asiatic honey bee (Apis cerana), a cousin of the Western honey bee. Bachi have been kept for honey in Japan since the Kamakura period (roughly the 12th century), but apiculture did not become widespread until the Edo period. Honey was used as medicine throughout Japanese history, although before bachi were domesticated it was harvested from wild hives.

Bachi are well-known for their unique defense mechanism against Japanese giant hornets. When a hornet attempts to enter the hive, bachi swarm it, covering it in a ball of their bodies. They then rapidly vibrate their flight muscles, raising the temperature above that which the hornet can survive.[1]

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Bachi waken from their winter torpor and begin to move around in spring. Although bachi are present all summer long, their other seasonal use is in combination with autumn flowers and grasses to lend a sense of lingering summer heat.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

While in Western art the bee symbolizes industriousness, in Japan bachi has very little symbolic meaning beyond the seasonal.[2] Bachi is mostly added on to other motifs, like flowers, and used in komono like netsuke.

Common Motif Pairings

  • Yuri
  • Botan
  • Kikkō, which resembles honeycomb
  • Allusions to Monkey-Crab Battle (さるかに合戦) will have in addition to bachi:

Identification & Style Variations

Describe how the pattern can be identified. If applicable, explain how the pattern is conventionally simplified.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

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In Poetry

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

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  1. Wikipedia Article on Apic cerana japonica. Accessed May 18, 2017.
  2. Baird, Merrily. Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design. Rizzoli. 2001. p.101.

Image Credits

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Authors & Contributors

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