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Sikhs and Sikh Combs

An important comb type, little publicised and infrequently encountered, is a notable feature of the orthodox Sikh community whose peoples, now dispersed throughout the world, originated mainly from the Punjab State of north-west India, bordering on Pakistan. This is a territory through which the 5 tributaries of the river Indus flow – the word Punjab…

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Sri Lankan Hair Pins — Formerly Ceylonese and Singalese

The hairpins known as Kondakoora emanate from Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. Often erroneously described as Mughal or Turkish turban pins, they were traditional to the low-country regions of southern Sri Lanka, as opposed to the hills of the Kandy region, where they were worn by wealthy women to secure the chignon. Positioned horizontally through the…

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Jen Cruse: Combs from the Miller Comb Museum

The three combs shown here each carry an important provenance – that of the Miller Comb Museum in Homer, Alaska, and date to the first quarter of the 20th century. They are featured in my book on page 79 (published in 2007) and have since come into my collection. For me they are most interesting…

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Jen Cruse: Mauchline Ware and Combs – Scottish Souvenirs of the 19th Century

Mauchline Ware is a distinctive form of Scottish decorative treen, said to have originated in the Ayrshire (now Strathclyde) town of Mauchline in the late 18th or early 19th century. The wooden articles, generally known as Mauchline Ware, were made of Scottish planewood or sycamore (sometimes black lacquered) and were wide ranging in both design…

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Jen Cruse: The Butterfly Motif

The butterfly, the short-lived ethereal beauty of gardens and countryside, has been a favourite motif adorning hair jewellery for at least the past 250 years and particularly popular through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its delicate form is found on combs and hairpins from many countries around the world, and even featured on the…

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Sumba Combs

The spectacular high combs worn by young women, brides and adolescent girls in East Sumba, Indonesia, form part of their rich traditional costume for festivals, ceremonies and weddings. These treasured objects, belonging to the Island’s aristocratic families, have passed down the generations since at least the early 19th century. The combs are known as hai…

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Jen Cruse: The Art of Chinese Ivory Comb Carving

By Jen Cruse: When trade links with China were re-established in the 18th century, the earliest and largest markets were in the West. Chinese teas and silks were the prime commodities of trade with Europe and America and an increasing demand for items such as porcelains, ivories (from African elephant tusks) and fans developed over…