Monthly Archives: June 2011

To the great great grandaughter of Patoromu Tamatea: Dear Lily,

Your spirit holds a voice from the past. Thank you for the miracle.

The man who bought your great great grandfather’s whale bone comb is Kajetan Fiedorowicz — pioneer in the antiquities world, professional photographer, and author on this blog. Serendipity plays creative games with chance, doesn’t it?

Your note brought us all joyous surprise. He sent me another photo of Mr. Tamatea’s work to put on the blog as a present for you.

Have you ever seen this one? In it, your great great grandfather gave this Heru two different colored paua-shell eyes, one dark – one light, clearly symbolizing the sun and the moon. I hope you enjoyed discovering us, as much as we were thrilled to hear from you.

With blessings,g-


Kajetan also gave me a link to a Tamatea comb, which resides in the Maori section of the TeKakano Pacific Information Centre in the Auckland Museum. The listing says, “Source: Captain Gilbert Mair. Acquisition Date: 1890.”

In 1840, the year Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, New Zealand became part of the British Empire. Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. European settlers imposed their own economic and legal systems on the Maori, took most of the land, and left them impoverished. Seeing his genius in canoe carving, I have to wonder how much Captain Mair paid him.

I smell a rat, but have no original documents to prove it. However, I can say…

This priceless masterpiece in the Auckland Museum is a Tamatea, whose name is not listed on the information card, so I’m adding it.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Carved Histories: Rotorua Ngati Tarawhai Carving

and from the archives of Kajetan Fiedorowicz:
The Collection of the Tepapa Government in New Zealand
Museum of Wellington & Sea

My Ebay Auction Was Taken Down. I Put It Up Again.

My ebay auction was taken down because I used a certain word. This comb was made in 1890. It is a legal item, which is why items of a similar material and date are sold at every auction house in the world. Beginning price: $24.99. Here is the new link.

I really didn’t want to put this on my blog, but for all the people who were watching and bidding, I thought it would be convenient for them to have the new link. I apologize for any flutter caused.

Miriam Slater Collection: Tortoiseshell Kanzashi

Chrysanthemums are the imperial flower of Japan. They represent friendship, which masks a secret wish for love. Perfection is defined by the unfolding of the flower’s petals.

As symmetry is an important principle in Japanese art, kanzashi are usually made in pairs. This pair from The Miriam Slater Collection combines dark and blonde tortoiseshell masterfully. You can see mottled sticks, dark leaves and centers, and blonde flowers blooming. A butterfly stops for a moment. The bira bira below have dark shell pieces linked by blonde shell chains. The balance between dark and light affects the way we see both colors. The Japanese were also known for portraying realism in exact detail.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680 – 1900

Edo: Arts of Japan’s Last Shogun Age

Beauty & Desire in Edo Period Japan

French Turquoise and Pearl Comb on Ebay

This comb is to drop dead from, but so is the price (read: secret, ulterior reason why BA has this blog ;-). There is a French marking for solid 18K gold, 64 natural pearls, 36 turquoise stones in 9 vertical lines. It’s hinged. The comb is horn. I’m breathless, but for $5200, I’m speechless! :-)

Creative Museum: Odd designs

by The Creative Museum:

Le peigne d’ornement a pour vocation de mettre en valeur la beauté d’une coiffure et d’un visage. L’inspiration des créateurs se tourne le plus souvent vers des motifs empruntés à la nature: fleurs, insectes ou oiseaux. L’Art Nouveau notamment y a puisé ses racines.

L’inspiration des artistes s’exprime aussi à travers des représentations symboliques ou géométriques, avec des lignes courbes ou droites comme les rinceaux et les frises grecques. N’oublions pas les figures humaines, thème privilégié en Afrique et en Indonésie mais aussi en Europe ou en Amérique.

C’est donc avec plaisir et étonnement que le collectionneur découvre, au hasard de ses recherches, des ornements de coiffure au design totalement insolite.

Qui penserait qu’une hélice d’avion et une boussole puissent décorer un peigne? Tout dépend en fait de la manière dont le sujet est traité. Le métal doré, le faux diamant au centre de l’hélice, les avions en arrière-plan en font un bijou finalement très élaboré.

De la même façon, on peut être surpris par un peigne en forme de bouche. Découpé dans un plastique laminé bicolore, il devient alors un objet sophistiqué et intéressant. Finalement, peu importe le motif; tout repose sur la créativité de l’artiste et le choix des matériaux qu’il utilise.


For more scholarly research, you may examime
Creative Museum Publications
The English translation may be found in comment #2.

Kirks Folly signed.

Detail of the propeller

Sandy Cole-Namaste signed

Indian Perfume Oil Combs

Just as an accent can reveal a person’s origin, so a perfume (attar) can identify an Indian rural village. Each village has its unique mixture of oils from native plants, such as jasmine, patchouli, rose, and sandalwood. Connecting scent to beauty is a signature of Indian culture. These combs held oil to perfume the hair. Here are a few examples:

The owner would pour oil in the red-stoned knobs on each edge of this gold comb, which is owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Two lions sit back to back with upward curling tails, breathing foliage.

Our author Kajetan Fiedorowicz collected this silver beauty. In a most unusual H shape, oil caps reside on each side. A prince’s profile adorns the front.

Our final stop is The Creative Museum. Here, two birds bookend an oil cap in the middle, with a small bas-relief decoration underneath. This comb was made for a woman’s dowry and comes from the Punjab region of Northwestern India.

The Creative Museum also has a bas-relief comb depicting one goddess dressing the hair of another, which gives us an idea of how Indian artists combined function (holding oil), engineering (the cap and space in the comb to hold the oil), and art in both the comb and in real life.


For more scholarly research, you may examine

Courtly Culture and Political Life in Early Medieval India

The bird comb with the bas-relief pattern shown in this post is available on E-bay for $900 or best offer.

Shringar Patti, Maang Tikka, and the Jada Naga

What is the difference between a shringar patti, a maang tikka, and the jada naga? Many brides wear all of three pieces.

A shringar-patti is worn on forehead, and it includes a fringe worn on either side of the face, consisting of a star or geometrical shaped pieces linking to each other. Hung from it are pipal leaves or stars or drops. The maang tikka is the crescent shaped plaque, sometimes enameled, suspended on to the middle forehead. However, the Jada Naga has a hallowed place in Hindu tradition and mythology.

Krishna is said to have defeated the evil multiheaded serpent Kaliya, who was poisoning the Yamuna River. In the 13th Century, the disciple Sidhendra Yogi had a vision. It was a dance drama where Krishna’s favorite consort, Satyabhama, expresses her desire for total devotion to her Lord through conjugal union. Yogi found the dancers in Kuchipudi, a small village in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, India.

The Jada is a decoration for a floor-length braid, which symbolizes the black cobra Kiliya. Antique Jada Nagas were made of cloth cord with a choti at the bottom — the serpent’s head. Modern pieces can be all gold.

Here are three examples of antique Jada Nagas:

From the Creative Museum

These two are on display in The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.


For more scholarly research, I recommend the book “Dance Dialects of India,” by Ragini Devi.