Clarence Hornung's "Traditional Japanese Stencil Designs" is not the book to purchase if you are seeking inspiration for tattoos. It is, however, of exceptional value if your interests include Japanese aesthetics in general and textile motifs in particular or if you are seeking sophisticated patterns that can be manipulated and reproduced as graphic designs.
The stencils included were originally designed for monochromatic printing on cotton textiles but are also typical of the patterns imprinted on deer-skin goods and traditional Japanese wrapping papers. More than any other volume in Dover's generously-sized library of books on Japanese design, Hornung's testifies to the Japanese genius for manipulating a few design elements into subtle and classically beautiful patterns. Some of the patterns are abstract and without specific meaning, but the overwhelming majority are rich in symbolism. Hornung's introduction discusses the most important of these symbolic meanings. However, the usefulness of the introduction is compromised by his failure to number the stencils and then identify for the reader precisely which plates represent each thematic motif.
There are over 100 royalty free patterns in JPEG format included on the CDR, while the book serves as a look-book for each pattern. Also includes a quick reference guide in the back of the book. Excellent for designers and asiaphiles.
Buy at Dover Publications