This was an amazing find. They are from the "昭和" "showa period" . The "showa" period is from 1926-1989 but these are at about 25-30 years old . This is called "型紙" or "katagami". This is a stencil that was used to make "kashigata" (for more information on "kashigata please see below).
This is really gorgeous! The shape is that of a "kamon" which means a family crest (which crest we don't know). There are no set rules in the design of a kamon. It most commonly consists of a roundel encircling a figure of plant, animal, man-made, natural or celestial objects, all abstracted to various degrees. Religious symbols, geometric shapes and kanji were commonly used as well. These symbols are often found in logos of stores (which help to identify what they sell), sushi restaurants, and on packages of food to lend an air of elegance. Senbei (Japanese crackers) and other traditional Japanese sweets may also use one.
This one is made from paper-but not flimsy normal paper....this is wonderful thick Japanese paper and it is in fabulous condition.
This stencil could be used but it would also be fabulous framed and hung on a wall.
The stencil measures about 9 x 9.5 cm.
More information on "kashigata" (the sweets made from the molds that were made using the stencils).
In the past, when a person died, it was expensive to give flowers or fresh food so, people made sweets (these are made from soy flour, rice flour and sugar) in the form of flowers, fish etc. These items were then placed on the "butsudan" (family shrine found in the house) for the dead person.
The sweets was also used for holiday celebrations, tea ceremony etc. These are for decoration only-they are never eaten.