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Black Hairpin with Lotus Leaves

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Black Hairpin with Lotus Leaves, N.d.
Lacquer with Gold and Mother of Pearl on Unidentified Material
5 3/16 in. (13.2 cm)

Object Type: Hair Ornamentation
Technique: Carving
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Ralph Riffenburgh, in honor of Angelyn Kelley Riffenburgh
Accession Number: 2013.7.94

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 reads "Koyu."

The hairpin ends are made of an unidentifiable material. Like object 2013.7.91, this object has a bamboo interior. The hairpin, or kogai, is lacquered and inlaid with mother of pearl and gold flecks.

Object Description
The kogai features a design of golden lotus leaves, one of which is inlaid with mother of pearl and gold flecks, against a black background. Golden diagonal line segments wrap around the piece, adding further visual interest. Dr. Juli Wolfgram identifies this elegant piece as one of high quality. The kogai is a two-part, flared anvil shape.

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