Hey everyone! I know it’s been several weeks since my last post. I just started a new part-time job teaching English to kindergarten kids and have been busy with training and my first lessons. We’ve also been experiencing strong aftershocks here in Japan. We had a 5 + as I was writing this post. Life is still a little weird and it’s been difficult getting back into my old routine. Anyway, enough excuses.
Introducing Japanese Sagemon!
In the time of the Samurai, in castles and wealthy households, nannies made sagemon for the children in their care to enjoy. Sagemon literally means “hanging stuff” in Japanese. They are mobiles made of traditional Japanese toys and may included temari, kimekomi balls and little fabric dolls of popular insects, birds, fish, etc. A mobile with 50 hanging toys was made for a child in hope that he or she would live 50 years, which during the Edo period was full life expectancy. Each ornament and doll had a meaning of some kind. For example, a cicada has a relatively long life for an insect, living 7 years underground, and when they emerge from the ground their noisy singing means they are strong and healthy. Just as the strong cries of a baby at birth is a sign of good health. There is even a specific order the different items should be hung in. Birds and flying things should be hung at the top, and so on. (Info translated from http://sagemon.net/sandai/)
Nowadays they are typically hung for Hina Matsuri, aka Doll Festival or Girls Festival and the traditional meanings behind this ancient craft have been lost within the general population. However, they are still a popular craft and the craft stores carry kits for simple sagemon, as well as individual kits for the little cloth animals, simple temari, and kimekomi balls.
I’m not so interested in the little fabric dolls. They are cute but not really my thing. I did however like the idea of hanging ornaments in a mobile. Why just hang ornaments on a tree or put them in a basket? Let’s think outside the basket!
Since it’s April, I decided to make an Easter Egg Sagemon. Luckily the small foam eggs I use already have holes in them.
I made 10 random Easter egg ornaments of varying styles and colors, using designs and techniques I have shown you in previous posts. I then strung them onto 4 pieces of thin cord, along with some beads, and attached them to a hoop using tape.
I used a thicker cord for the top hangers. I measured the diameter of the hoop and cut the thick cord twice as long. I then I sewed the cords together in a cross and taped the ends to the hoop.
I then strung a key ring at the cross point and tied a bow of pink cord around the hanging cords to create a loop.
The hoop I used was originally intended as a handle for a handbag. The clear plastic hoops were much cheaper than embroidery hoops or the hoops being sold specifically for sagemon. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to use because you’re going to cover it up anyway. I used a long piece of wide white ribbon to wrap the hoop. I sewed the end of the ribbon on the inside of the hoop with white thread.
Then I remembered I had this green beaded fringe from a project I did years ago. I sewed the fringe to the ribbon on the outside of the hoop.
That’s pretty much it! Add some silk flowers or stuffed bunny’s and chicks if you wish. Hang a large egg in the center. There are so many possibilities. Be creative and have fun.
May I also suggest you do a Google image search for “sagemon” or “さげもん”. You might be able to copy and paste those Japanese letters into your search bar. There are hundreds of wonderful pictures to gain inspiration from.
Got a question about this or another project? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.