A striking “animal print” (giraffe?) hair comb in the Egyptian Revival style
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6¼ x 5 ins (15.5 x 13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
Here we have an unusual Art Deco comb in the Egyptian Revival fashion. The comb is made all in one piece from a curiously patterned version of celluloid which resembles some kind of animal print. It resembles giraffe rather than any other variety of natural animals. It is certainly not a version of the usual faux tortoiseshell.
The comb has a wedge shaped heading and two long tines to pierce the hair. It has applied circular decals in turquoise and coral effect, and it is these which lend the ornament its “Egyptian” aura.
The collage picture shows sitters from contemporary photographs on popular postcards. Many stars of stage and screen were photographed in "Egyptian" and Oriental costumes, which fuelled the taste for personal ornaments in this style.
This type of ornament is often known as Spanish or mantilla comb because it resembles a smaller version of the traditional large shell ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. In practice any comb which has a high upstanding heading or top which stands proud of the top of the head is often called a mantilla comb.
Art Deco was a sophisticated art movement which gathered in influences from a number of different t cultures, Among the most important among these was the art of the Middle and Near East
This taste for the exotic was given a fresh impetus by the discovery of the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen in the early 1920s. The stunning treasures were an inspiration to designers in media of all forms. There was no attempt to reproduce genuine Egyptian ornaments, and the designs were a pastiche featuring Egyptian type motifs such as scarab beetles or the heads of pharaohs, or featuring typical Egyptian materials such as faux turquoise, coral or lapis lazuli.
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