Category Archives: Kanzashi

The gigantic hair ornaments of oiran, Japan’s courtesans

Oiran or Japan’s highest ranking courtesans were the grandest and most spectacular women of the “floating world”. The word oiran means “first flower” which poetically indicates their exalted status in society. Like geisha they often had humble beginnings, and many were originally sold into the business as children and were left to work their way…Continue Reading

Crane and tortoise, two major Japanese symbols

Par Creative Museum Au Japon, deux figures animales associées reviennent très souvent comme motif décoratif. Il s’agit de la grue et de la tortue. De nombreux kanzashi en sont ornés mais on les retrouve aussi sur les miroirs, les broderies des kimonos ou des ‘fukusa’ (carré de soie pour envelopper un cadeau) et sur beaucoup…Continue Reading

Silver Kanzashi

The kanzashi’s original purpose was a charm against evil spirits. The tradition began as early as 1000 BC to 300 AD, in Japan’s Jomon Era. Decorating them with flowers invited deities. The art captured the Japanese cultural imagination in the Edo era (1603 – 1867), when criminal activity increased. This initiated laws that prohibited people…Continue Reading

Poetry and symbolism in Japanese kanzashi

By Miriam Slater: The Japanese over the centuries have distinguished themselves by their cultivation of humor, fine design and poetry within their art. In fact, these qualities are what originally attracted me to kanzashi. As an artist I found myself entranced by the variety of expression within these beautifully crafted pieces. Metaphors and symbols are…Continue Reading

Ebay Dealer Mistakes

There have been many lovely combs on the American, British, and French E-bay sites. However, some dealers misidentify their comb’s country of origin. Here are two examples. Please see item #130476761205. The hairpin is stunning, condition excellent, no arguments that it would be a wonderful piece for any collection. There’s only one problem. It’s a…Continue Reading

I bought this

Set of two Meiji tortoiseshell kanzashi with plovers on them. The last two shell kanzashi I bought arrived broken. Let’s hope the third one’s the charm! lol I paid a whopping $77 for them on ebay. I love the seller, though. She’s a superb collector.Continue Reading

The One That Got Away

I saw it listed at $9.99, 6 days to go. It was a drop-dead gorgeous real shell kanzashi with coral. I thought it was real, anyway. My eyes popped out of my head. I emailed two of my friend collectors. “Are you going for this?” “Do you think it’s real?” The coral is too pink,…Continue Reading

Well, you had to wear them in something

Here are some 19th-century paintings of Geishas in their wigs, wearing the beautiful ornaments we all admire. It’s nice to see kushi and kanzashi in context. From the historical record these paintings provide, it looks like the wigs were just as creative as the combs.Geisha with Sake Cup, by Keisai Yeisen (1789-1851)Courtesan with a fan,…Continue Reading