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Kiku (菊)

Japanese. ‘Chrysanthemum’. Name for the Chrysanthemum Seal, i.e. the Imperial Seal of Japan, which is also referred to as the Chrysanthemum Flower Seal or Imperial Chrysanthemum Emblem. The yellow symbol with black outlines consists of a central disc surrounded by a front set of 16 flower petals and a rear set of 16 petals that are half staggered in relation to the front set and visible only at the edges of the flower. The Imperial Seal represents longevity and rejuvenation and was under the Meiji constitution allowed to be used only by the Emperor of Japan, whereas each other member of the Japanese Imperial family used a slightly modified version of the seal. Similar modified seals are also used in Shinto shrines related to the Imperial family, while in Buddhist iconography, also outside Japan, a very similar emblem, yet representing a lotus flower, can often be found in iconography, especially on temple walls, fences (fig.) and gates, as well as behind Buddha images, in Myanmar. Also referred to as Kikumon (菊紋), Kikukamon (菊花紋) and Kikukamonsho (菊花紋章), the latter meaning ‘Chrysanthemum Flower Design Emblem’. See also Amaterasu.