A beautifully carved “bird in a bush” natural tortoiseshell hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4½ ins h x 3¼ ins w (10.5 x 8 cm) decorative part 1½ ins h (4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
Here is a finely carved Chinese export hair comb in natural tortoiseshell. It has a delightful openwork design is an exotic bird placed against foliage. The ornament is carved all in one piece from the dark mottled form of turtle shell and has 11 long pointed tines. All the tines are nicely pointed with no chips or dings.
The majority of these Chinese export combs was elaborately carved and finished, the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the designers and comb makers being second to none. On carved, fretted or pierced backgrounds, flowers, birds and small animals formed the principal themes, with the mythical dragon a predominant feature. The combs were not set with jewels or gemstones but relied on the texture and sincerity of the material itself for enduring appeal.
The term “Chinese Export” refers to a class of merchandise which was produced in China strictly for export to the West, and was not intended for consumption by the indigenous population.
When trade links with China were re-established in the 18th century an increasing demand for items such as fans, carvings and small decorative items made from ivory, tortoiseshell and other materials developed over time. At first private buyers from the West such as ships offers and diplomats, sought small specialty items to take home as personal gifts for family and friends.
So enthusiastically were the gifts received that demand grew and it was not long before a burgeoning industry developed. This was a new departure for the craftsmen as Chinese women did not wear combs such as these, their traditional hair accessories being quite different in format and design.
This item is over 100 years old and therefore predates the Endangered Species legislation. If this item includes any CITES Appendix I materials documentation and certificates required by law for commercial sale, import or export, have been obtained for this item and will be included with it at shipment.
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