A large celluloid faux tortoiseshell Spanish mantilla comb from the mid 20th century
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 7½ ins h x 5 ins w (19 x 13 cm) decorative part 4½ ins h (11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: mid 20th century
Here is a large and handsome celluloid faux tortoiseshell Spanish mantilla type comb which probably dates from the mid 20th century.
The comb has a high curved heading which features a classic openwork design of combined lattice and foliage pattern.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary mid century photographic sources and shows similar items and the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
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.
However the true Spanish comb or peineta is an ornament worn in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries for a very high ornamental comb which is typically draped with a lace veil. The Peineta is particularly associated with the region of southern Spain known as Andalusia.
In the past such veils were worn when attending church, and others formal events. Although the use of these high combs and mantilla veils has declined in Spain, they are still used on formal occasions. Smaller versions of the high topped comb are also popular with Flamenco dancers and for weddings.
The high combs with which we are familiar were adopted at the Spanish court and this led to their being regarded as part of traditional Spanish costume.
The use of the peineta declined somewhat in its native Spain during the 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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