A large and handsome faux tortoiseshell hair comb from the Art Deco period
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 8½ x 7 ins (22 x 18 cm) decorative part 5 ins (13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
Here is a very beautiful and large Spanish style comb from the Art Deco period of the early 20th century.
The comb has an interesting form in which the bottom two corners of the heading are “pulled down” to the same level as the base of the tines. The ornament has a rectangular form with the two corners of the heading being occupied by triangular openwork panels. These feature the usual classical scroll work design. The remainder of the heading comprises a solid panel.
The pictures with the mannequin show the height and effect in wear, and the manner in which the beautiful heading design may be seen from all angles.
The term 'Spanish mantilla combs' is often used as a kind of umbrella category for any decorative hair comb with a high upstanding cresting that rises up proud from the top of the head when the comb is placed in position. However, the Spanish mantilla comb or Peineta, to give it the correct name, is rightly that comb which is part of the beautiful and traditional native dress worn in certain parts of Spain.
We are all familiar with this kind of Peineta, where the enormous cresting rises anything from eight to twelve inches above the wearers head, and supports a beautiful lace veil.
The origins of the mantilla go far back into Spanish history. However the lace veil with which we are familiar first made its appearance in the 17th century where the great Spanish court painter Velasquez depicted several ladies wearing such headdresses. It was not until the 19th century that these lovely veils began to be draped over the high peineta. The fashion for these high combs spread across Europe where many beautiful examples were made from tortoise shell, horn and other materials.
The high combs were adopted at the Spanish court and this led to their being regarded as part of traditional Spanish costume. These extremely large combs were popular during the Art Deco period, when they were adopted for fancy dress up costume. There was a vogue for Spanish flavour dress for some years.
The use of the peineta declined somewhat in its native Spain during the early 20th century. However the growth of the Spanish tourist industry in the mid 20th century led to a new interest in Spanish costume, music and dance. Large combs are now popular souvenirs with tourists. They are also worn for Spanish dance and on festive occasions such as fiestas. In the past such combs were hand wrought from metal, horn or tortoiseshell. Nowadays they are mass produced and are usually made in some synthetic material which does not need to be “tortoiseshell” coloured.
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