This Chinese Vintage Silver Hairpin, Kanzashi or Yín Zān 銀 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 that for now this important for our customers to know. Our Japanese dealer was unsure of the age or silver mix of the hairpins. This is a unique stylized kanzashi with a one stick hairpin a decorated square hirauchi at the top. The hirauchi has a simple 18 petal flower that completely fills it from side to side of the square, and a tall dome of silver tops the middle. The pin is long and flat and looks like it could be used as a weapon. These are wider than the Japanese kanzashi legs and pointed at the end. Surrounding the center flower are three more flowers made with twirled stacking ropes and silver beads. At each corner of the square is another twirl of flattened silver rope. Two twirling ropes with silver beads finish off the bottom of the square where it meets the pin.
There is one spot of missing metal to an end of a flower petal in the center of the hirauchi that takes about one third of a flower petal. There no damage or loss of metal. We have not silver tested most likely mixed with a very small percentage of silver. They look very similar to Tibetan silver which we know nothing about, as little as Chinese silver, they may have some mix of sterling and will update our posts just as soon as we do. They may be what we found about some of the Japanese pieces and about a 400 sterling mix, or they may be other types mixed metals. I had the pleasure of running across the website for 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, looks like it could date the same as the other one, possibly made between 1900 and 1950's.
SIZE: Lenght 6,6 in. or 16.51 cm, Width 2 in. or 5.08 cm, Height 0.6 in or 1.52 cm
History of the Kanzashi 簪 of Japan from Wiki pending update 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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