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Karakusa Pattern


The karakusa pattern weaves a captivating narrative of intertwining vines, leaves, and floral motifs, evoking a sense of natural beauty and harmony. Originating from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, where it drew inspiration from palm leaf, lotus, and acanthus motifs, the karakusa pattern made its way to Japan from China through the Silk Road. The name "karakusa" itself reflects the pattern's origins, with "kara" meaning China and "kusa" referring to plants.  


The vines stretching in all directions symbolise longevity and prosperity. While the karakusa pattern is commonly associated with clothing, particularly kimonos, it also holds significance in other aspects of Japanese life. One notable example is its use in furoshiki, a patterned piece of cloth to wrap or carry goods.  


Karakusa-patterned furoshiki are infamously depicted alongside thieves. This association stems from their prevalence in Japanese households. In the past, these furoshiki were very common, with many families owning at least one. Burglars would take advantage of this widespread use by using any furoshiki they found in a house to wrap up stolen items and carry them away. Because karakusa-patterned furoshiki were so ubiquitous, they became linked with the image of burglars using them in their crimes. 


Despite its dubious association with criminal activity, the karakusa pattern remains a cherished emblem of Japanese culture and tradition.  


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