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Gold Comb and Hairpin with Plovers

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Gold Comb and Hairpin with Plovers, 20th c
Lacquer with Gold and Mother of Pearl on Wood
1 5/16 x 3 7/16 in. (3.4 x 8.7 cm)


Object Type: Hair Ornamentation
Technique: Carving
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Ralph Riffenburgh, in honor of Angelyn Kelley Riffenburgh
Accession Number: 2013.7.11a,b


Commentary
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. --Bruce Coats, Professor of Art History and the Humanities

Marks
The artist's mark on the hairpin reads "Gekkou".

Medium
The comb and hairpin are made of lacquered wood and inlaid with mother of pearl and gold flecks.

Object Description
The comb features a design of three plovers and stylized water. The comb is a Western-style comb. Like other Western-style combs, this one is not decorative, but meant to actually be used. The hairpin, or kogai, features the same design of three plovers and water as the comb. The artist's mark reads "Gekkou". The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape. Its length measures 14.3 cm.

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