Lacquer and Gold on Unknown material
1 3/8 x 3 3/8 in. (3.5 x 8.5 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 artist's mark on the comb and hairpin reads "Eisai".
The comb and hairpin are made of horse's hoof or possibly plastic; the comb has been dyed to resemble bekko (tortoiseshell). The comb is painted with gold lacquer and decorated with sprinkled or inlaid gold flecks.
The comb's design features a motif of autumn plants. The artist's mark reads "Eisai". The kogai features the same autumn plant motif as the comb. The artist's mark in the center also reads "Eisai". The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape. Its length measures 14.8 cm.
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