A FINE VINTAGE JAPANESE KANZASHI GEISHA HAIRCOMB AND HAIRPIN GEISHA SET IN SILVERTONE METAL FLOWERS WITH CRYSTALS AND FAUX PEARLS
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: comb 5½ ins w x 2½ ins h (14 x 5 cms) kogai hairpin 9½ ins h x end pieces 3 ins diam (23 x 7.5 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1970S – 1980s
This is a beautiful vintage Japanese "fantasy" comb and hairpin set of the type called "kanzashi." This is a kind of umbrella term used for a number of different types of hair accessory. These showy and glitzy geisha wedding sets ate difficult to date as they have been made in the same style for decades. This one probably dates from the 1970s – 1980s.
These ornaments were originally part of a bridal set which would have included another two hairpins similar in design as well as other ornaments. They were usually stuck into the coiffure in such a way that the ornamental heading stood out proud from the hairdressing by several inches.
The ornaments comprise a rectangular comb with a curved back (called a kushi). Worn with this is a long bodkin like bar (called a kogai) which has detachable ornamental end pieces.
The comb is made from white coloured celluloid with a crown topped off in an arrangement of silver tone metal flowers whose centres are set with spherical faux pearls. The celluloid resin part of the comb has a design representing a crane engraved into the material and emphasized with silver lacquer. The crane is one of the most iconic birds in Japanese art. The bird is venerated and symbolises beauty and longevity, also prudence, purity and vigilance.
The kogai comprises a bar of white resin with ornamental end pieces which are decorated with silver tone metal flowers to match those on the comb. Set amid the flowers are spherical faux pearls. Each end piece has four pendant ends in silver tone metal tipped with faux coral beads. These hairpins are of the type known as "birra birra" meaning that they have small mobile tassels dangling from the heading which shake as the wearer moves.
This lovely hairpin and comb set was built up in a three dimensional manner as shown in the illustrations. The final picture shows an apprentice geisha who is wearing ornaments of a similar character in her traditional coiffure.
Such ornaments represent a link with traditional forms in Japanese hair accessories which have been used for many hundreds of years before Western styles began to supplant traditional forms.
Japanese and Oriental arts and crafts have traditionally drawn on nature. Cherry, plum, maple, pine, chrysanthemum and others are themes running throughout Eastern art, along with birds and butterflies. In Oriental art flower symbols represent the natural nectar that brings growth, fulfilment and new and prosperous beginnings into our lives. Additionally flower symbols convey beauty, grace and perfection.
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