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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 artist's mark on the hairpin reads "Gyokusai".
The comb is made of either wood or horse's hoof with painted lacquer and inlaid mother of pearl. The hairpin is made of wood with painted lacquer and sprinkled gold flecks.
The comb features a design of flowers in stylized water, with a water wheel and brushwood fence. The scene is made to suggest parted clouds, rendered with textile dye stencil patterns, that give only a partial view. The meander pattern gives this piece a later date. The comb is a half-moon shape. The hairpin, or kogai, features the same type of flowers as the comb. The textile dye stencil patterns differ from the comb. The kogai is a two-part, dumbbell shape. Its length measures 18.5cm.
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