This Japanese vintage sterling silver engraved hair ornament was a fine and exciting find for our growing collection of kanzashi (with more to come). This kanzashi style is called a "Bonten" which is a round flat silver kanzashi. The piece is nicely decorated with etching or engraving all over and a border all the way around on the front. The carved kanji reads '福寿 fukuju' or long life. This lovely bonten is marked Sterling and Japan on the back. I am not sure if the chain and pin are sterling, I believe they may be steel for added strength. In our opinion it dates to between 1920 to 1950. It is in absolutely excellent condition no scratches seen and all parts tight and working. I did forget to polish it with the jewelry cloth before I took pictures but it can be shiny in no time and ask if you would like us to do that before sending. See more below about the history of kanzashi.
Kanzashi: Diameter length and Width: 45 X 33mm
Pin Length: 58mm
Hallmark: Sterling, Japan
Weight: 7.8 grams
Another seller from Japan shared the following, and I have compiled to share with you. Please see other information and history from WIki below, and our other kanzashi and hair ornaments with more to come.
About the metal materials used for KANZASHI The main metal usually was silver and used very frequently, sometimes copper and iron, and brass was also the popular material. When the Kanzashi was made of brass, silver was sometimes plated on the metal in order to add beauty, or high quality. Gold itself might be used for the special ordered Kanzashi. Silver made Kanzashi was often gold plated fully or partially on the surface and it weighs heavier when compared to brass made ones. Silver and silver alloy products are now at present seen oxidized but if polished the original luster is revived. A large numbers of Kanzashi by various kinds of designs were produced especially after the middle era of Edo period and was continued to Meiji and Taisho eras between 1850 ~ 1920, that means Kanzashi was a kind of mass production items. It was usual way not to mark the material name such as (silver or gold) except the special occasion for the high valued Kanzashi .
History of the Kanzashi 簪 Kanzashi were first used in Japan during the Jōmon period. During that time, a single thin rod or stick was considered to have mystical powers which could ward off evil spirits, so people would wear them in their hair. This is also when some of the first predecessors of the modern Japanese hair comb began to appear.
During the Nara period, a variety of Chinese cultural aspects and items were brought to Japan, including zan (written with the same Chinese character as kanzashi) and other hair ornaments. During the Heian period, the traditional style of putting hair up was changed to wearing it long, tied back low. It was at this time that kanzashi began to be used as a general term for any hair ornament, including combs and hairpins. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, the hairstyles changed from the taregami 垂髪, or long straight hair, to the wider variety of "Japanese hair" 日本髪 Nihongami) which make more use of hair ornaments. Kanzashi came into wide use during the Edo period, when hairstyles became larger and more complicated, using a larger number of ornaments. Artisans began to produce more finely crafted products, including some hair ornaments that could be used as defensive weapons. During the latter part of the Edo period, the craftsmanship of kanzashi reached a high point, with many styles and designs being created (see Types of kanzashi, below).
Tsumami kanzashi has been officially designated as a traditional Japanese handcrafts in the Tokyo region since 1982. Traditionally trained professional artisans typically undergo five to ten years of apprenticeship; from 2002 to 2010, their estimated number in the country decreased from fifteen to five However, the petal-folding technique has become a popular hobby, due to instructional books, kits, and lessons from sources such as the Tsumami Kanzashi Museum in Shinjuku. Some students have bypassed the traditional apprenticeship system to establish themselves as independent professional artisans of tsumami kanzashi in Japan.
Currently, the use of kanzashi has declined significantly in favor of more Western hairstyles. The most common use of kanzashi now is in Shinto weddings and use by maiko or apprentice geisha. However, the surge of interest in various incorporated kimono dressing into the current fashions finding their way onto the runway and in high-end stores will most likely quickly bring this back.
Nowadays, kanzashi are most often worn by brides; by professional kimono wearers such as geisha, tayū and yujo; or by adepts in Japanese tea ceremony and ikebana. However, there is currently a revival among young Japanese women who wish to add an elegant touch to their business suit.
From and See Wikipedia for more about the different types
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