Category Archives: Edo Hair Comb

When You Give Your Combs Away

Mortality comes to us all. My art is the fire that illuminates my home, the warmth that protects me from the freezing waters of a refugee-filled sea — but I’ve seen the videos. Is it morally possible to flutter about one’s curiosities, when the cries of infants go silent as men climb the rope of an Italian cargo ship?

No — but I’ve done it anyway.

I gave many of my combs to the Creative Museum. They were brilliantly photographed, catalogued, kept, respected, and shared because love and family ensconce that world.

Then I will depend on the brainless, computerized repetition of social media — grinding randomly, sharing endlessly. My memories will have long graced the dustbin, as the combs occupy the decentralized, sprinkled intelligence of “I love this!” women on Pinterest.

For what it’s worth, this is what I gave the CM. Underneath are their captions:


Superb kushi comb and matching kogai stick made of gold lacquered tortoiseshell. The decoration theme is different on each side. One features a dragonfly in a cobweb; the other shows a small cat playing with a ball. The maki-e work is perfectly made.


Very fashionable late 19th, early 20th c. this kind of ivory comb with traditional Chinese motif was made in China for the Western market. This one is perfectly carved and the phoenix is rounded with bamboos and peonies. Its eye is a tiny black bead.


Handsome decorative ivory comb, carved in China for export in the early 19th century. Background of lace-like punch carvings on which are superimposed roses separated in two parts. Long sharply pointed teeth.


United Kingdom. c. 1870. Very refined ivory comb from the Victorian period. The crown motif is reminiscent of the Peigne Josephine style.


United States. Late 19th Century. Gorgeous comb with a very dynamic and symmetrical shape. It features a phoenix, the Chinese emblem of Empress Cixi.


Japanese set with a kushi comb and its matching kogai stick depicting two drums called Ko-tsuzumi. They are hourglass-shaped drums that are rope-tensioned. Geishas use to play this kind of drum which is a frequent decorative motif on combs.


Late Edo tortoiseshell and lacquer kogai stick. It would have been the smaller stick in a set of three, accompanied by a larger kogai and a comb. The artist created a three dimensional effect in this small rectangular shape. Two plover birds talk to each other as they play in the water.


United Kingdom. c. 1870. Superb comb cut out of one piece of mother-of-pearl that goes to the golden edge of the oyster. It is embellished with pierced and carved spirals.


United Kingdom. Late 19th Century. A mother-of-pearl two-pronged hair pin, pierced with a delicate flying bird against a floral background.


United Kingdom, 19th Century, Ivory. The round heading of this comb is pierced with a peacock spreading its tail. The edge is also decorated to add transparency.

कंघी

For further scholarship, you may examine the publications and exhibitions of the Creative Museum.

Lalique Hair Combs and Tiaras

Victorian diamond brooches came with different settings, so they could be worn separately or together as a tiara. Art Nouveau brooches could also serve multiple purposes. Indeed, some were designed as a tiara and ended up as a brooch. Such is the case with this bee-and-flower ornament designed by Rene Lalique in 1905/6. A pencil-and-ink…Continue Reading

The Creative Museum in Exhibition: Le Japon Amoureux

The Museum of African and Asian Arts in Vichy, France, resides in a 19th Century residence and contains collections, which were gathered by Christian missionaries from both continents. The Creative Museum was one of the representatives invited to share their private collection for the real-life exhibition, “Le Japon Amoureux,” whose opening was quite the event.…Continue Reading

The Creative Museum Triumphs Again

Every culture has a comb. It can symbolize a ruler’s deification, be a liturgical object for high priests, or an item that pushes the limits of an artistic movement. In Japanese culture, combs were an expression of love. On May 4, The Creative Museum steps into the real world again by contributing items from their…Continue Reading

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly

We know Mary Howitt’s poem made its way into Lewis Carroll’s Lobster Quadrille, one of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but could it have ever reached Japan? It was written in 1829, and I would date this Edo painted-tortoiseshell set to 1850. I fell in love with it because the painting reminded me of the poem:…Continue Reading

Japanese Kushi Themes

In the Edo and Meiji eras, kushi became canvasses, on which artists could paint or carve cultural and religious symbols. Early Edo kushi had only one simple idea on a large comb-canvas. Late Edo kushi were still bigger than Meiji pieces, but both eras produced square and half-moon shapes. From the Okazaki collection come these…Continue Reading

Miriam Slater and The Creative Museum: Two Japanese Combs

Two of our authors have recently bought beautiful Japanese combs. Miriam Slater bought this late Edo lacquer comb with a geometric petal-like background underneath painted chrysanthemums, dahlias, peonies, and hearts, all done in gold maki-e. The Creative Museum added this ivory Taisho piece to their collection. It was made c. 1920, has a French shape…Continue Reading

Edo and Meiji Kogai Sticks

Earlier Meiji kogai sticks were long and flat, with gold maki-e decorations on each edge. Edo kogai sticks were shorter and thicker, carved just at the top. These Meiji tortoiseshell sticks come from The Creative Museum, while the Edo lacquer sticks reside in The Miriam Slater Collection. This extraordinary early Meiji kogai stick belongs to…Continue Reading

Miriam Slater Collection: Kanzashi with people

By Miriam Slater: The designs in most Japanese kanzashi most commonly are drawn from nature, such as animals ( tortoise, cranes and fish), plants (bamboo, flowers and pine trees) or landscapes (harbors, waves and mountains). Much harder to find are kanzashi in which people are depicted. The inclusion of human beings (to me at least)…Continue Reading