Red and Gold Comb and Hairpin with Grasses, N.d.
Lacquer with Mother of Pearl on Wood
2 1/4 x 3 7/8 in. (5.7 x 9.9 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 comb and hairpin are made of lacquered wood with inlaid mother of pearl.
This comb features a series of uniquely decorated cards. The second from the left on the front face features three Genji symbols (branch-like emblems that refer to specific chapters of the Tale of Genji). The other cards, which depict bamboo with clouds and a boat with a drum going under a bridge, most likely illustrate scenes from the book as well. The comb is a takahara-kata shape. The hairpin, or kogai, features the same series of cards as the comb, though some of the symbols referring to chapters of the Tale of Genji have changed. The small cards closest to the center of the kogai may have the same design as the damaged card seen in the comb. Compare with object 2013.7.33A. The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape. Its length measures 17.5 cm.
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