Category Archives: Kanzashi

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 Japanese collection to an exhibition at the Musée d’arts d’Afrique et d’Asie called Le Japon Amoureux. Their combs will accentuate the Musée’s own collection of Japanese prints.

Having gained recognition by a second museum after En Tête à Tête at Le Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angoulême, The Creative Museum’s collection is becoming a source for museums around the world. I am eagerly anticipating their multimedia presentation about Le Japon Amoureux. For now, I will just pick a few of my favorite Japanese combs.

This is a full modern wedding set of turquoise silk with colorful beads. It is composed of a kushi, two pairs of kanzashi and a bar placed in the bun.

This silver kanzashi celebrates a popular Japanese wedding concept: the crane for happiness and faithfulness; Minogame, a sea turtle so old, seaweed gets stuck to his tail. He symbolizes endurance and longevity; and pine branches and cherry blossoms for renewal.

This red cinnebar lacquer comb is decorated with ravens.

These two combs were made for Western clients. The first is carved in a beautiful cherry. Cranes and bamboo are painted in gold.

The second is made of shell with gold sparrows.

An Edo lacquered wood and gilt embossed comb with Takamaki-e (a technique where the lacquer is polished down to show the gold paint in high relief) shows a palanquin highlighted in black.

A moon of pierced blond tortoiseshell appears behind a dark cloud. Taisho (1912-1926). I think this shows how the Art Deco movement influenced Japanese artists.

I have left out some splendid pieces. To see those in the context of the exhibition, you can wait for the slide show or examine The Creative Museum’s entire Japanese collection.

For more scholarly research, please examine the publications of The Creative Museum.

Japanese Tama Kanzashi Themes

Japanese women’s hairstyles became works of art during the Edo period (1603-1868). Lush ornamentation with kushi- and kogai-stick sets, accompanied by kanzashi followed. Only rulers, samurai clans, and other aristocratic families had mon, or crests to indicate their status. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), common families were allowed to obtain mon. Tama is a type…Continue Reading

BarbaraAnne’s Hair Comb Buying Guide

Here are my picks from around the web. This masterpiece was brought to my attention by The Creative Museum. Merci, Monsieur Touzinaud. The most magnificent cameos are those where the artist gives the natural coloration in the stone a purpose in his carved figure. In these stunning examples, the color defines flowers in the women’s…Continue Reading

Some Lovely Things on Ebay

We are beauty hunters. Some lovely things have sold on E-bay at good prices, while other nice pieces are still for sale. This emerald, pearl, and diamond Victorian parure was sent in by one of our community’s subscribers. I was so pleased to hear from her. Thank you! If another subscriber finds something delicious, you…Continue Reading

Miriam Slater: Kanzashi – the difference between art and the decorative

For the kanzashi collector, it is helpful to be able to discern between that which is decorative and pieces which are art. Auction prices often confirm the fact that the more art qualities a kanzashi has, the more collectable it becomes. Decorative hair combs (which are often quite beautiful in their own right), will not…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

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.…Continue Reading

Miriam Slater Collection: Ivory Kanzashi

Today, I wanted to celebrate the taste of our author Miriam Slater. Don’t let this piece fool you. “The truth is never pure and rarely simple.” This Meiji kanzashi is a painting within a sculpture. Within the bird perched on a branch, is the stem and flower of a Japanese hibiscus. Notice the stick painted…Continue Reading