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These Japanese hair ornaments were collected by the late Angelyn Kelley Riffenburgh over decades. Angelyn’s husband, Dr. Ralph Riffenburgh, presented the combs in her honor to the Scripps College collections in 2012. Most of these hair ornaments, or kanzashi, are made of bamboo or lightweight woods that have been lacquered; they date from the 18th century well into the 20th, when elaborate hairstyles included decorative combs (kushi) and hairpins (kogai). Matched sets of ornaments featured seasonal images, landscape scenes, as well as historical or fictional references. The combination of pine, bamboo (nanten), and plum blossom (shochikubai) designs were popular at New Year’s time. Cherry blossom patterns were worn in the spring, and chrysanthemums in the autumn. Some kanzashi were made with tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, bone, or precious metals. Hairpins with a ball ornament, or tama, were also color coordinated to the seasons, with the cool colors green and blue worn during the summer months and the warm colors red, orange, and gold used during the winter.
The comb and hairpin are made of lacquered wood and inlaid mother of pearl.
The comb's design features very stylized butterflies against a woven mat pattern. The butterflies' wings and bodies are inlaid with mother of pearl accents. The comb is a tenmaru-kata shape; its bridges are more rounded than the standard half-moon shape. The hairpin, or kogai, features the same accented, stylized butterfly design found on the comb. The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape. The kogai measures 16.6 cm in length.
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