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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

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