What is the meaning behind kimono patterns?

Tatewaku/Tachiwaku | 立涌 | Rising Steam

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 Rising steam pattern formed by laurels, with spider lillies in full bloom.

Tachiwaku/tatewaku (depending on which pronunciation you prefer) is a fairly simple pattern, but kimono artists have found many ways to utilize the simplicity in beautiful, intricate designs. The pattern is usually of equivalent lines that waver back and forth between each other, and can be alone or can be repeated to make a large, continuous pattern.

 A simpler version of the rising steam pattern, with very little horizontal movement in the lines.

The design represents rising steam, so it is typically seen as a symbol of good fortune and upward mobility. Originally, this pattern was a member of the “yusoku” (有職) family of patterns, so its use during the Heian period was restricted to nobility and aristocrats, and even restricted further according to tradition, rank, and family history. Nowadays, though, anyone can wear this pattern.

 This is a bit more an abstract version of rising steam. The lines don't move uniformly in either width or movement.

To make the pattern more luxurious, other patterns or objects are oftentimes placed inside. When clouds are inside, the pattern is called “kumo-tatewaku” (雲立涌). When the flower wisteria is placed inside, it’s known as “fujita-tatewaku” (藤立涌). And when ocean waves are placed inside, the name is “nami-tatewaku” (波立涌).



I suppose you could add anything to the name, such as “tsuru-tatewaku” for heron, “houou-tatewaku” for phoenix, or “kiku-tatewaku” for chrysanthemums. Adding another object or pattern inside combines the meanings of both patterns, but typically doesn’t create a brand new meaning.

Take a look through our catalog and you may see some quite unique takes on the rising steam pattern.

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