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(Redirected from Seigeiha)
Motif Information
Motif seigaiha 01.png
Rōmaji Seigaiha
English Crescent Waves
Kanji 青海波
Kana せいがいは
Season All-Season
Seasonal Exceptions None
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Geometric

Seigaiha (青海波) literally means blue wave of the sea (blue sea wave, wave of the blue sea, etc.). It may also be pronounced seikaiha or seigainami.

Seigaiha may have been imported as motif for water from China. Ancient Chinese maps use seigaiha as a fill pattern to denote water. It has been used in Japan as a clothing motif for over a thousand years. [1] Seigaiha may also be seen as a motif commonly raked into gravel or applied to tiles.

The association of the name seigaiha with this pattern was cemented by it being used as the primary motif on costumes for gagaku performances to a song called Seigaiha.

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Seigaiha on the costume of actor Onoe Tamizô II as Tenjiku Tokubei (天竺徳兵衛 尾上多見蔵,1841)by Utagawa Kunisada in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Jars decorated with seigaiha, sayagata with clouds, cracked ice, and tsubodare on Edo period Nabeshima ware plate in the collection of LACMA

A geometric motif generally has no season of it's own and thus can be worn throughout the year. However, since seigaiha is commonly thought of as waves, it's sometimes thought of as a more summer-oriented motif.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

Seigaiha represents calm waves.

Auspicious Nature

Seigaiha is an auspicious, protective pattern as the waves depicted are calm. It may be either interpreted as bringing peace or riches, as both were traditionally provided by the calm sea.

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

Seigaiha consists of concentric circles that have been overlapped to only show the top portion of each. Sometimes branches of sea spray are added to give a more realistic flavor to the motif.

Seigaiha is most easily confused at a distance with jigami, fan paper. Seigaiha contains concentric lines, whereas jigami will contain varying fill motifs.

Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

Lid of box decorated with seigaiha, chidori, fune, and sheaves of rice by Shibata Zeshin (柴田 是真) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In Chapter 7 of the Tale of Genji, Genji and his friend perform the gagaku dance, Seigaiha from which the pattern takes its name.

In the Meiji period, Shibata Zeshin was known for reviving the lost lacquer technique known as seigaiha-nuri, in which egg whites or clay are mixed with lacquer to thicken it and then a seigaiha pattern is combed into the mixture with a brush.[2] The inventor of this technique was the Genroku era lacquerwork master, Seigai Kanshishi, and it was lost on his death.[3]

Article Notes

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  1. JAANUS article on Seigaiha
  2. Kokka, Issues 212-216, 1908, p. 285.
  3. Watt, James, ed. Ford, Barbara Brennan, ed. East Asian Lacquer: The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection. Herbert Irving Collection. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 1991. p.285.

Image Credits

  • Cuttlefishlove

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