02 Mar Look at this sweet butterfly…
One of the most beautiful creatures to grace the earth is the butterfly. The sight of a butterfly flying in the air during the spring or summertime in its sheer beauty and gracefulness is awe-inspiring. Its natural beauty has also inspired many an artist over the centuries. One country the butterfly calls home is Japan. To the Japanese people, the butterfly has many meanings. It has a spiritual meaning, a symbolic meaning, and an artistic meaning. In this post you’ll find an overview of the meaning and significance of the butterfly to the Japanese people, the reflection of these meanings in Japanese artwork, the butterfly and its significance to the samurai, some of the famous artists to depict the butterfly in their artwork, and the butterfly in modern-day Japanese media.
In Japan, the butterfly has a whole plethora of meanings to the Japanese people. Before trying to understand Japanese butterfly art, these meanings and purposes must be understood.
First off, the butterfly has a spiritual significance to the Japanese people. Since caterpillars transform into butterflies and go through the cycle of birth, transformation, and death, many Japanese traditionally believe that the butterfly carries the souls of the dead or represent the souls of the dead. Also, many Japanese believe that following a butterfly will help unlock a mystery in life or solve a problem driving a person crazy.
Secondly, the butterfly is considered by the Japanese to be a symbol. A symbol of girls in love and a symbol of girls transforming into graceful young ladies, as well as of young womanhood in general. Butterflies are also symbols of springtime and happy marriages. Butterflies often represent starry-eyed lovers in Japanese poetry, and often as two tragic lovers whose souls have transformed into butterflies after having committed suicide together.
Finally, butterflies are popular in Japan for artistic purposes. Butterflies can be found in motifs on kimonos, yukata, and other clothing (both traditional and non-traditional), on family crests (known as ‘kamon’ in Japanese), in paintings and ukiyo-e woodblock prints, on pottery, and elsewhere.