Category Archives: Indonesian Hair Comb

The Hair Comb Market

There are so many beautiful things for sale, each with their own story, that to condense a post into one subject is difficult. So I have a buffet of things today. Just click the picture or link to see more details about each item.

In the Sotheby’s Unsold category:

On 6 December 2002, this Henri Vever gold, enamel, and horn hair comb was estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, but did not sell.

vever

On 13 June 2000, this French gold, enamel, and diamond Eugenie comb, c. 1870, was estimated between 6,000 to 8,000 GBP, but also did not sell.

eugeniecomb

Sotheby’s Upcoming Auction:

Up for auction on 14 November 2014 is this brass Alexander Calder hair pin, c. 1940 (Calder Foundation Archive number: A16974). Estimate $50,000 – $70,000. To me, this comb looks like a female body wired into a frame. The estimate is consistent with the Calder market, and I will be interested to know what it fetches.

calder1

Will it appreciate in value, as did Calder’s silver “Figa” hair comb?

“Figa” in Slavic and Turkish cultures is a hand gesture made to represent male or female sexual organs. The first and second fingers wrap the thumb. It could be used in response to a money request or a plea for physical labor. In Ancient Rome, the gesture was used to ward off evil spirits.

Calder gifted it to artist Frances J. Whitney, c. 1948 (Calder Foundation Archive number: A22629). I could just see her wearing it with a geometrically cut black dress to a charity ball, with no one else knowing what it meant but her. :-)

On 15 November 2006, it was purchased from the Whitney estate for $57,000. On 14 November 2013, that buyer sold it for 137,000.

alexandercaldercomb

At Live Auctioneers, another comb caught my attention. It is Russian, c. 1908-1917, silver, and made by Fabergé work master Anders Michelson (marked AM). The comb has eight tortoiseshell prongs and a beautiful hinge that fits over the entire top. Michelson used niello, a black mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulphides, to inlay the dogs and floral pattern on the tiara. The auction starts on 13 November 2014, and the opening bid is €300.

dogs

Michael Backman Gallery

Michael Backman Ltd. is selling a pair of gold and gilded silver-filigree dragon hair pins from China’s Qianlong Period (1735-1796). They have dragon heads, each of which have a turquoise cabochon. Openwork hair ornaments were known as “tongzan” and were worn from the Ming Dynasty onwards.

chinesedragonhairpins

Also on sale is this comb from the Solomon Islands. It is a faa, or man’s woven comb from the Kwaio People, Malaita, Solomon Islands. Woven from yellow-orchid and coconut-palm-frond fibres, the comb was dyed with the geru root. Its teeth are made of fern wood.

solomonislands

The last lot I am going to feature from Michael Backman is this jaw-dropping collection of 38 Indonesian gold ornaments, c. 800 AD. It is a largest set of gold regalia ever collected for a statue in Central Java, Indonesia. The script on the chest cord translates as “‘The weight of the pailut with the diadem: 2 suvarṇa, 1 māṣa, 2 kupaṅ’”

Indon_Gold-750x475

Some Lovely Things on E-Bay

Never dismiss E-Bay. A Māori Paikea comb with an ivory patina to-die-for was listed by God-Save-Whom for $9.95 with no reserve. The description was “Possibly African.”

There is a There are 6 bids on it, including 2 experienced bidders. It’s real tortoiseshell. As of this printing, there are 3 days and 11 hours to go on this auction.

There is also The seller thinks it’s French. It could be French or Edwardian English because jewelers in both countries made these types of pins. The auction has 4 days to go.

One of our authors, Miriam Slater, is selling this It is rare, it is real, and I’d get my hands on it if I could.

Choosing one amongst many beautiful things is so difficult. Mustn’t we just have them all.

कंघी

To have fun researching more items like these, please consult our Resource Library and these books:


Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago

Calder Jewelry

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

Combs at the Musée du Quai Branly

The Musée du Quai Branly is as much a work of architecture as it is a museum that houses a collection of 300,000 artifacts from Africa and Oceania. Jean Nouvel designed four structures with 30 multicolored, protruding cubes. Each cube contains an exhibition. They have a wonderful collection of combs and photographs that show how…Continue Reading

Learning from the Creative Museum and Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

In quotes are comments from Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment by Truus Daalder. Reference numbers are in italics and specified at the bottom. The photographs and other writing come from the collection and scholarship of The Creative Museum. I thought it would be interesting to combine them. They crossed paths in China, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia.…Continue Reading

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…Continue Reading

Truus Daalder: Comb from Tanimbar, Maluku Province of Indonesia

In my book Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment (Ethnic Art Press and Macmillan, 2009), I described and illustrated (p. 170) a very rare comb from Tanimbar, situated in the east of Indonesia, in the southern Moluccas (Maluku). I was unable to show there the only drawing of a person actually wearing the comb, which together with…Continue Reading

Tortoiseshell Hair Combs from Different Worlds

The Bruce Frank Primitive Art Gallery has a beautiful 19th-Century tortoiseshell- and buffalo-horn comb for sale. Price on request. If you don’t have a tribal comb, have no idea of how to buy one correctly, but would like a top-class piece, I have no problem putting my name on a recommendation to buy this one.…Continue Reading

Creative-Museum.com

There is a completeness to this 2500-comb collection, as it spans the whole world and time. Most individual collections specialize. This museum brings together the love of many in a dazzling display of hair comb art. The pictures are a community unto themselves. The museum founders state, “There is nowhere you can see this collection,…Continue Reading

Tanimbar Whale Bone Comb

Sometimes tribal artists can grab your eyes to look at and understand their ancient worlds. This whale-bone comb from the Tanimbar Islands in the Maluku Province of Indonesia dates back to the 1900s, as the patina shows. The head figure on top looks like a god resting on the pedestal of the comb, although I…Continue Reading