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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 artist's mark on the comb and hairpin reads "Houmin".
The comb and hairpin are made of bekko (tortoiseshell) and painted with gold lacquer.
The comb features a painted gold dot pattern. The artist's mark reads "Houmin". The refined, understated style was probably meant for an older woman. The comb is a rikyu-kata shape. The kogai features the same painted gold dot pattern as the comb. Two red dots along the joint align the two parts. The artist's mark reads "houmin". The refined, understated style was probably meant for an older woman. The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape. Pulling the kogai apart reveals two unidentified Japanese characters carved onto the stick of the larger piece. The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape. Its length measures 13.3 cm.
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