Although I just did an article about kanzashi, these were so outstanding, I had to post. :-)
This blonde shell Sho-chiku-bai is beautifully balanced with plum, chrysanthemum, and bamboo. The artist even carved the chains on which the orchids hang out of shell. It was owned by the family of Prince Arisugawa Taruhito, who became the 9th head of one of the cadet branches of the Imperial Family of Japan in 1871, and was a career officer in Imperial Japanese Army. His collection is featured at the National Musuem of Japanese History.
This tortoiseshell hairpin of plover birds flying over waves on a coral branch was also owned by Prince Arisugawa Taruhito. This one takes my breath away.
From the Nomura Shojiro Collection comes this Edo comb of a grasshopper busily eating while a larger animal looms. But are we seeing the animal’s horn, while his hungry eyes focus on that grasshopper? Or, does the line signify the larger animal’s tail, as he plods away completely unaware of the grasshopper’s existence. Japanese comb art plays with and mixes perspectives a lot, but this maki-e painting has all the players in one scene. The artist makes you imagine how each animal sees their world. In art school, teachers ask students, “What can you do with a line?” And I think this comb provides a wonderful answer because with one line, it goes from being beautiful to being great.