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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 is made of wood. The tiny shards on the dragonfly wing appear to be mother of pearl; the plants appear to be glitter. These accents were not inlaid, they might have been sprinkled on after painting.
The comb features a dragonfly or "tombo", a spring motif; the reeds and bush clover ("hagi") are early autumn plants. The boldly divided negative space and striking, high-contrast design place this comb in the Meiji era. The comb is a masako-kata shape.
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