Lacquer and gold paint on Wood
1 5/8 x 3 1/4 in. (4.2 x 8.2 cm)
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 items are made of wood with sprayed, rather than brushed, gold paint finish. This finish is not lacquered gold. Some small sections have been decorated with black lacquer and sprinkled/inlaid gold flecks.
The comb's design features a meander pattern and stylized, scattered fans with unidentified flowers and a small hut. There are also small circles with a stylized basket weave pattern.The comb is a half-moon shape. The kogai's design features a meander pattern and stylized, scattered fans with unidentified flowers and small huts. There are also small circles with a stylized basket weave pattern. The kogai is a two-part, dumbbell shape. It measures 17.5 cm in length.
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