Category Archives: Miriam Slater Kanzashi Collection

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 possess the depth of expression that is seen in more artistic pieces. Art is distinguished by its originality, a sense of aesthetics and clear, purposeful expression. Often, within in it, one feels the presence of the maker – there is the sense that the piece has its own personality.

In the top comb set we see lovely decorative flower design. But on second glance we find a demonic figure hiding in the right side of the stick. The inclusion of ugliness with utmost beauty makes a statement about life that is beyond the decorative –the comb set has now become evocative and more poetic in mood. In the second comb, the artist reaches beyond the decorative in this complex, beautifully executed design. On it are two separate landscapes, each one on golden, smooth lacquer fan shapes. Around these shapes, darker, roughly carved water forms flow. The movement of the water gives a feeling of excitement to the piece, especially when contrasted with the smooth texture of the fan shapes and the serene designs within them. The water even cuts into the fan forms, just as water does in real life, showing that the artist who made this gave a lot of thought to the play between the two opposing elements: surging water and serene landscapes. When an artisan goes the extra mile to create something exceptional, the result is often that ever-elusive thing we call “art.”

कंघी

For more scholarly, research, please examine

Okazaki Comb Collection, by Sumiko Hashimoto

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

Edo Lacquer Masterpiece

From the Miriam Slater Collection, this set features an open-top kushi design filled with gold maki-e leaves, stems, and one mother-of-pearl bud. There is a scroll ornament painted on both sides. The kogai stick has the same scroll theme diagonally carated to separate the same leaf, stem, and bud theme on both ends. Stunning Edo…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: Tortoiseshell Combs

I do not know what to do with myself when I see what artist Miriam Slater has collected. My mind basically goes blank. However, my jaw does recover within the hour. Here are two picks from the tortoiseshell part of her Edo collection. The first wedding set features a tortoise and a crane, symbolizing stability…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

Jessica Beauchemin and Miriam Slater

I would like to welcome two new authors to our community blog. An award-winning Canadian modern artist, Jessica Beauchemin creates balanced abstract wood sculptures, which I feel mirror the design sense of Alexander Calder. Our second new author is Miriam Slater. We have had passionate conversations about Japanese hair ornaments for years, and she has…Continue Reading