An unusual Spanish mantilla hair comb showing a figural bride
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear for age
SIZE: 7 ins h x 4½ ins w (18 x 11 cm) decorative part 4¼ ins h (10.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: mid 20th century
Here we have a large and handsome Spanish mantilla comb in cream coloured celluloid, which probably dates from the 1960s to 1970s. It has a tall wedge shaped heading whose panel is filled in with drooping bell like flowers, with a figural bride placed in the centre.
Female and male figures dressed in Spanish type costume are quite common upon such times. However this is the first representation of a bride I have seen on a comb of this kind. It would make a very beautiful wedding headpiece for a bride who likes something different.
It was probably produced as a tourist souvenir for the Spanish travel industry which began to expand in the late 1950s – early 1960s. The growth of this industry promoted a renewed interest in Spanish costume, music and dance and hair combs were popular souvenirs. They are also purchased by Spanish dance groups worldwide.
The final picture with the collage shows some illustrations of similar hair accessories taken from contemporary sources and the manner in which they were worn
This comb is of the type known as Spanish or “mantilla” comb because it resembles the traditional ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. In this tradition a beautiful lace scarf, white for unmarried women and black for married, was draped over a high comb which was made of beautifully carved tortoiseshell.
The use of the very tall Spanish comb has a very long history of use throughout the 19th century. The production of the opera “Carmen” led to a fashion for high Spanish combs in the 1870s, and they again became the rage during the early 20th century Art Deco period. In some of these combs the heading might be as much as eight or ten inches in height.
Although the use of the high Spanish comb began to decline in the early 20th century the growth of the tourist trade in mid century revived interest in Spanish costume, music and dance. The large fiestas, such as the one in Seville, draw thousands of visitors who come to see the processions of women and men dressed in Spanish costume, and to enjoy the music and entertainment.
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