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Comb with Miniature Scenes in Checkerboard

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Unknown,
Comb with Miniature Scenes in Checkerboard, N.d.
Lacquer on Wood
2 3/8 x 4 1/2 in. (6 x 11.5 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: 2013.7.45


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

The comb features a checkerboard pattern of gold and black squares. The squares contain a variety of designs. The eight-plank bridge with irises is a classical poetic reference to the Tales of Ise. The two rocks connected by a twisted fiber robe is a famous Shinto site. There are also umbrellas, fans, pine trees, a farmhouse, musical instruments, a bird, bees, boats traveling under giant bridges ("ohashi"), and shells, among other scenes of plants and landscapes. The comb is a classic takahara-kata shape.

Jasmine Kusumowidagdo '16

Marks
None.

Medium
The comb is made of lacquered wood.

Object Description
The comb features a checkerboard pattern of gold and black squares. The squares contain a variety of designs. The eight-plank bridge with irises is a classical poetic reference to the Tales of Ise. The two rocks connected by a twisted fiber robe is a famous Shinto site. There are also umbrellas, fans, pine trees, a farmhouse, musical instruments, a bird, bees, boats traveling under giant bridges ("ohashi"), and shells, among other scenes of plants and landscapes. The comb is a classic takahara-kata shape.

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