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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. --Bruce Coats, Professor of Art History and the Humanities
The comb is made of plastic. Horse hoof will have striations and can be scratched, but not as badly as this plastic has been. The paint appears to be rolled on, not painted. The iridescent areas are paint, not inlaid mother of pearl.
This comb features a design of scattered fans or "chirashi" in stylized water. The fans feature a crane with a generic flower, a peony with a bird, and what appears to be a mum. The mirror image of the design is also stamped or rolled on the back, giving the comb a sense of depth. The comb is a tenmaru-kata shape. According to Dr. Juli Wolfgram, an expert in Japanese art, the comb dates to the post-World War II period and would have been sold as a tourist item.
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