This and one other Chinese vintage silver hairpin, kanzashi or Yín 銀 Zān 簪 as stated and written in the Chinese traditional language, are two we collected from one of our dealers in Japan. The word hairpin also translates to zān in Chinese, when written as one word. In order to utilize the information from our collection of Japanese kanzashi for now and since many words are interchangeable, we felt for now this important for our customers to know. Our Japanese dealer was unsure of the age or silver mix of the hairpins. In our opinion based on the appearance of the silver, they were made between 1900 and 1950's but we could be totally wrong and they could be antiques. We have not yet silver tested them but will try, these may be easier than the others, nor did we polish before we took pictures which we should have. This looks somewhat similar to Tibetan silver which we know nothing about, as little as Chinese silver, they do appear to have some mix of sterling we do not know yet and will update our posts just as soon as we do, in addition to the history. It may end up being what we found about some of the Japanese pieces and about a 400 sterling mix, or other mixed metals. This is a wonderful, unique and highly decorative hairpin or zan with scrolling pieces and brocade designs. It has just one instead of two legs like most of the Japanese kanzashi. Around the hirauchi or flat round piece at the end are dome shaped stacking ropes of silver which are somewhat 1920's ish in style. At the bottom of the hirauchi are stacking silver chains which form a ribbon style at the end on top of the pin. In the center of all this is the head of a dragon, with great character. From there, the silver rope is very delicately turned underneath the hirauchi twice to create an elevation of the hirauchi from the pin. The pins are long and flat and look like they could be used as a weapon. They are wider than the Japanese kanzashi legs and pointed at the end. There is no damage or loss of metal. There is one small spot on the back of the hirauchi that was most likely created in the making and twisting of the silver ropes and chain. I had the pleasure of running across and meeting a Japanese lady who owns an online hairpin museum with history and hairpins from both countries, who told me she would help with these if she could. A modern yet sophisticated hairpin from China in silver,
SIZE: Lenght 7.6 in. or 19.3 cm, Width 1.8 in. or 4.57 cm, Height 0.9 in or 2.28 cm
History of the Kanzashi 簪 of Japan from Wiki, also see discussion about silver
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 handcraft 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 (apprentice geisha).
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. See Wikipedia for more about the different types
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