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.

Posted in Creative Museum, Edo Hair Comb, Japanese Hair Comb, Kanzashi, Meiji Hair Comb, Modern Japanese Wedding Set, Taisho Hair Comb | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Etruscan Hair Comb

Before the Roman Empire, there was Ancient Italy, a compilation of cultures who absorbed each other’s ideas through trade. This map would date from 700 to 400 BC.

Greeks started colonizing Southern Italy in 800 BC, creating the province of Magna Graecia. They traded and had great cultural influence on late Villanovan culture, from which Etruscan civilization emerged. Mycenaean Greece’s Lion Gate (1300 BC) could have been a perfectly natural subject for an Etruscan artist to choose.

I believe this Etruscan ivory comb (600 to 500 BC) is a tribute to the Lions Gate at Mycenae. Using sgraffito, two decorative Greek-vector borders were scratched in: a larger pattern below the lions, and a smaller one above the tines, which might represent the gate itself. On the triangle just above the tines, circles signify a sacred emblem, the solar disc.

The comb is an example of the Hellenized world in Ancient Italy before the Roman Empire. It resides in The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

χτένα

For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and


Greek And Etruscan Jewelry, A Picture Book: The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
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The Böört: Headdress of the Turkic Shaman

After being educated by Siberian shamans for three years, I became the first wolf shaman in Turkey. The Ajalat Shamanic Center is the only place in Turkey where traditional Turkic Shamanism is practiced. My colleague Asu Mansur and I have dedicated ourselves to strengthen and develop the ancient way of shamanism by guiding people to a natural way of being.

In this video, you can see what we do.
You may click the picture to view the video, as well.

The headdress of the traditional Turkic shaman is often called a böört, which is pronounced like bird, but with a "t" at the end. The Böört is a very important part of the shaman’s equipment. It not only protects the shaman from negative entities called Aza, it also gives the owner a light feeling in the head when it is put on.

The lightness in the head is created by the many feathers, which most often surround the böört. The feathers should be from strong and high-flying birds, like the eagle, crane, or goose.

One eagle feather is necessary because the eagle is a predator who can protect the head of its owner from evil spirits. The feathers also help the shaman fly to other dimensions and the upper world, where the ancestors and gods are. Mostly, it does not matter what is put on the böört, except for the feathers. They must have some protective or strengthening value.

The long ribbons in front of a böört are mainly designed for their protective purposes from evil spirits or evil eyes. Evil eyes can burn you or let you dry out. For example, if you walk through a shopping mall, sit in a crowded area, or a better example: you are with people you do not like so much, your eyes will start to burn or itch. This is a sign that one or more people have burned you with their evil eyes. A good way to protect oneself from this, if you are not a shaman, is to put on mirrored sunglasses. They will reflect the energy back to the owner, because your eyes will not be in contact. The shaman needs these ribbons for the same purpose.

Some shamans put horns to each side of the böört. This has two reasons. One is for threatening reasons and the other one has ancestral significance. The threatening part is again against evil spirits, to push them away like the bull pushes away its attackers.

The ancestral value is dedicated to Oguz Khan, the first Turk in history. The name Oguz means the ones from the space (aliens). From Oguz Khan, all the Turkic tribes came out. Oguz Khan was blueish, had red eyes and a red mouth. His helmet had two long horns at their sides.

That was the time long before Abraham. In respect and knowledge of our forefathers, the shaman wears the böört to carry this legacy from generation to generation. Shamans are also keepers of the truth and true history. Therefore, everything they put on the böört is a truth.

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Keter Torah: Silver Torah Finials and Crowns

Early rabbinical texts disclaim the Hellenistic notion that a crown, or keter endowed its wearer with divine and immortal life. Instead, the keter became a symbol for 3 covenants with God: keter malkhut, crown of kingship, given to David for conquering the Ammonite capital of Rabbah; keter kenunah, the priesthood, given to the descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron; and keter torah, the revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai, the crown of God.


Keter Torah, Assayag Synagogue by David R. Crowles (Tangier, Morocco 2002)

The keter torah and the Ten Commandments tablets may also be accompanied by two lions, symbolizing Moses and Aaron, as in this closeup of a crown from Odessa.

In Eastern Europe’s Galicia, this keter’s inscription refers to Deuteronomy 32:11, “As an eagle stirs up her nest, broods over her young…” The animals on the crown’s base represent those that would be sacrificed at the Temple. This silver folk-art crown was made during the 18th- to 19th Centuries and is part of the Michael Steinhardt Judaica Collection. I find it especially interesting because the double-headed eagle with a crown in the middle is also the Russian coat of arms.

These flat finials come from Afghanistan, 1978, and are one of three sets to go on top the Afghani Torah case. The custom of calling finials keter torah is also practiced in Eastern Persia, where most Afghan Jews came from. The ornaments reside in the Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem.

In the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, a wooden box with two sets of finials on top, called a tik is preserved from a Sephardic synagogue during the Ottoman Empire, c. 1860.

On April 29, 2013, Sotheby’s auctioned this Venitian torah crown with two finials, c. 1730. From the Michael Steinhardt collection, it sold for $437,000. I am sure you can imagine how such a heavy crown with bells ringing on top of the torah case added drama to the service.

In 17th Century Poland and Ukraine, mysticism expressed in kabbalah founded different forms of Hasidic Judaism. The tree of life, or sephirot, comes from kabbalah. So does devekut, a mystical trance-state where one clings to God. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772–1810) combined kabbalah and torah scholarship, making the mind the central route to the heart. At the top of the sephirot is the keter. It symbolizes the most hidden of all hidden things, incomprehensible to man.

This torah crown comes from Poland, c. 1840. It was sold by Skinner’s for $65,174.

And in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Hasidic Judaism is vibrantly alive.

מסרק

For more scholarly research, please examine


Crowning Glory: Silver Torah Ornaments of the Jewish Museum, New York

Hasidism and the Jewish Enlightenment: Their Confrontation in Galicia and Poland in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century

Crown of Aleppo: The Mystery of the Oldest Hebrew Bible Codex
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Chinese Hair Pins and Desolate, Derelict Pain

I saw. I gasped. I wanted — so badly, silent screams came from secret parts of my body.

In 1644, the Aisin-Goro clan of the Tungusic Jurchen people from Manchuria (now Northeast China) conquered the Han Chinese in the South. The Ming Dynasty gave way to the Qing Dynasty. These are Qing Dynasty silver hair pins made during the reign of the Guangxu emperor Aisin-Gioro Zaitian (1875 – 1908). He was the Dynasty’s 11th and penultimate emperor.

Beautifully preserved enamel encases coral drops. Hand-crafted butterflies and flowers punctuate the chains. The pair is in original condition.

The auction on E-bay started at $0.99. I watched as the price climbed to $300, 18 hours before auction end: 26 bids. I knew it was going to go, and I couldn’t enter that shock-and-awe $1000 snipe bid to win.

But I was wrong. Someone DID put in that nuclear snipe bid, and they lost! The hair pins sold for $1025 on March 25, 2013, to the 37th bidder. Congratulations.

कंघी

For more scholarly research, please examine the Creative Museum’s Asian comb exhibition, Gina Hellweger’s first and second Chinese hair ornament collections,

this 1860 photograph of women in Guangzhou wearing hair ornaments, contributed by Alain Truong Trong Nghia

and these books:


Kingfisher Blue: Treasures of an Ancient Chinese Art

The Comb: Its History and Development

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment
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The Vienna Secession, Wiener Werkstätte, and H.K. Haege

Unsatisfied with the conservative restraints of the Vienna Künstlerhaus, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Kurzweil, and others formed the Vienna Secession in 1897. They wanted to break free of society’s intoxication with imitating historical styles, as in the Victorian Era’s Egyptian Revival. Their headquarter’s innovative architectural design featured three gorgons by Othmar Schimkowitz above the door.

The Secession also brought French Impressionism to the Viennese public, and Josef Hoffman dedicated an event to Beethoven. Klimt contributed the Beethoven Frieze.

However, in addition to Art Nouveau / Jugendstil, there was also the British Arts and Crafts Movement. In Vienna, industrialist Fritz Wärndorfer funded its equivalent, the Wiener Werkstätte with Josef Hoffman and Koloman Moser.

Revolting against the idea of mass-produced junk vomited out by the Industrial Revolution, they hand-crafted jewelry that blurred the line between sculpture and ornament. Hair combs and hats were among the offerings.

The designs above were made by Dagobert Peche. He loved to portray natural forms in a complex and whimsical way. Combining coral, ivory and gold, he punctuated natural forms with geometric accents.

Koloman Moser’s student Mela Koehler included whimsical hats in her fashion illustration, having joined the Wiener Werkstätte in 1909.

Many jewelers created pieces in the Wiener Werkstätte style. Among them was German jeweler H. K. Haege in 1920. He created this comb of at least 114 handmade silver parts to express the delicacy of a floral basket. The high grade silver highlighted his extraordinary repoussé workmanship.

It is selling at The Tadema Gallery in the £5000-10,000 range.

कंघी

For more scholarly research, please examine


Wiener Werkstatte: 1903-1932
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The Collection Göring

Hermann Göring’s art collection numbered 4200 items, most of which he kept at Carinhall, his country estate near Berlin. They included paintings, sculptures, furniture, and this magnificent platinum tiara, with 32 carats of diamonds and 8 emerald cabochons. Two side leaves with buds lead to the center spray.

Another diamond tiara with stars outlined by hollow galleries can be seen as Göring escorts his wife Emmy to a ball.

It was a happy marriage. Emmy and daughter Edda gave Hermann many gifts with loving inscriptions. Storage-inventory-number 466/96 at the Pinakothek der Moderne museum in Munich is a gold and diamond cigarette case, engraved with the words, “Filled with happiness and pride, we congratulate you on your appointment as ‘Field Marshall.’ With our deepest love, Emmy and Edda.”

Edda can also be seen here at Carinhall, held by her mother just after her Christening. A beautiful painting hangs in the background.

It is hard to determine where these items came from. The German government has allocated €2 million a year to fund the “Working Group for the Research and Study of Provenance.” Their job is to sift through 20,000 items, which are currently being kept in museum storage vaults. There are 4 employees, who have launched 84 projects. Germany has 6300 museums.

कंघी

For more scholarly research, please examine


Hermann Goring and the Nazi Art Collection: The Looting of Europe’s Art Treasures and Their Dispersal After World War II
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Samburu Jewelry, Rebecca Lolosoli, and Half the Sky

In the Samburu district of Kenya, near Archers Post, lies a village of women’s dignity – Umoja. It is a refuge for victims of domestic violence.

Normally pastoral cattle herders, Samburu matriarch Rebecca Lolosoli has started a business to make the complex beaded necklaces and headdresses for which the tribe is known. The Samburu knit with small, brightly colored beads, weaving complex patterns and ideas in layers. Round silver coin-like beads are attached to the headdresses, as are larger center ornaments. Ms. Lolosoli’s jewelry showcases the highest level of skill.

With jewelry, she and her village are fighting for the right to be untouched by violence. Umoja is part of Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky Movement. A woman has a right to an education; own a business; make decisions; and not be raped, shot, or promised into marriage as a child. Ms. Lolosoli also fights female circumcision. Instead of growing older with eyes that have seen untold horrors, in Umoja, a young woman can glow with pride.

कंघी

For more on Umoja and Half the Sky, please examine Umoja Women and


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
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Jen Cruse: Exhibition for the Creative Museum

In an “Around the World in 80 Comb” exhibition, author Jen Cruse shares her collection with the Creative Museum. Her presentation enunciates the stunning diversity of comb design across the world and across time.

My favorite is this Chinese ivory comb, which depicts Shou Xing, the Chinese God of Longevity. He is part of the Taoist concept of Fu Lu Shou. Taoism dates back to the the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), when the Han Chinese ended Genghis Khan’s Mongolian rule.

With a high bald head, Shou Xing smiles gently as he carries a branch with peaches of immortality from the garden of Xi Wang Mu. His small helper looks on. The comb is curved because it is made from the top of an elephant tusk.

The peaches are visible on the back of the comb.

Other combs in the collection include this black Bonaz with gold plum flowers,

this celluloid Art Deco American comb with gold paint, whose blue is the same color as a Tiffany & Co. shopping bag,

and a seed-pearl aigrette.

कंघी

For more scholarly research, please examine the publications of the Creative Museum and Jen’s book


The Comb: Its History and Development
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Leopards and Gazelles in a Qajar Comb

The Qajars were a Persian royal family of Hazar Turkic origin (named after the Hazar Sea), whose dynasty began with Agha Muḥammad Khān Qājār in 1794 and ended with Sultan Ahmad Shah Qajar in 1925. Agha Muhammad brought peace, which allowed unique style of Persian painting and portraiture to develop and flourish.

A main theme of Qajar art was the garden scene, which was inherited from the Safavid Dynasty.


Double Finispiece From The Diwan Of Sultan Ibrahim Mirza, 1582 CE

Persian leopards were the hunting trophies of kings. Rulers ascended to the peacock throne. There were also eagles, serins, gazelles, rabbits, and rams. Gardens had wider connections to spirituality and mysticism. Sadly, today, the Persian leopard has been hunted almost to extinction.


Double Finispiece From The Diwan Of Sultan Ibrahim Mirza, 1582 CE

Recently, a group of wooden, painted Qajar H combs, c. 1920, sold on E-Bay. I was particularly interested in this one because of the rural garden scene. On one side, a Persian leopard bites a male gazelle, while the female looks on.

On the other side, an eagle eats a serin with a fish in its mouth. Predators and prey depicting the circle of life, portrayed in a circle. A ram looks on, while rabbits and ducks dot the edges.

Sale price: $978.

कंघी

For more scholarly research, please examine


Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran, 16Th-19th Centuries

Royal Persian Paintings : The Qajar Epoch 1785-1925

Wall Paintings And Other Figurative Mural Art in Qajar Iran
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