'Sakura' (Cherry Blossom) pattern has been favoured by Japanese since the Heian period (794-1185). It symbolises new beginnings, renewal (early Spring), beauty and the transience of life. Although cherry blossom was principally a feminine taste, combined with stripes and leaves it became trendy for unisex use.
Aoi (Hollyhock) pattern is one of the typical classic patterns in the Heian Period (AD 794- 1185), and can often be seen in the costumes and furnishings of the court nobility of that period. Ieyasu Tokugawa used the hollyhock as a crest, increasing its importance as compared to the crest of Chrysanthemum and Paulownia. The Hollyhock was the crest of the Tokugawa family (shogun line from 1603-1868) and had strong associations with Shinto festivals and shrines. Only the Tokugawa family had the right to use the hollyhock crest during the succeeding years of the Edo Period (1603-1867).
Although Aoi patterns alone were not permitted, certain higher ranking and popular people, such Kabuki actors, started pushing the bounds of what they could get away with by wearing design combinations of Aoi with for example, Cherry blossom and Butterfly. This then became fashionable for Edo townspeople in the late Edo period, and by around 1850, the general populace started using Aoi pattern as a pattern of good luck, spreading throughout Japan until the early Meiji era (around 1875).
This is one of around 400 Japanese katagami stencils which are part of the Silver Studio Collection. The stencils were produced in Japan as a way of applying patterns to fabric, mainly kimonos. The katagami collected by the Silver Studio were used by their designers as reference material to produce their own Japanese-inspired patterns.