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For the kanzashi collector, it is helpful to be able to discern between that which is decorative and pieces which are art. Auction prices often confirm the fact that the more art qualities a kanzashi has, the more collectable it becomes. Decorative hair combs (which are often quite beautiful in their own right), will not possess the depth of expression that is seen in more artistic pieces.  Art is distinguished by its originality, a sense of aesthetics and clear, purposeful expression. Often, within in it, one feels the presence of the maker – there is the sense that the piece has its own personality.

In the top comb set we see an overall decorative flower design, but on second glance we find a demonic figure hiding in the right side of the stick. The inclusion of ugliness with utmost beauty makes a statement about life that is beyond the decorative –the comb set has now become evocative and more poetic in mood.  In the second comb, the artist reaches beyond the decorative in this complex, beautifully executed design. On it are two separate landscapes, each one on golden, smooth lacquer fan shapes. Around these shapes, darker, roughly carved water forms flow. The movement of the water gives a feeling of excitement to the piece, especially when contrasted with the smooth texture of the fan shapes and the serene designs within them. The water even cuts into the fan forms, just as water does in real life, showing that the artist who made this gave a lot of thought to the play between the two opposing elements: the surging water and serene landscapes. When an artisan goes the extra mile to create something exceptional, the result is often that ever-elusive thing we call “art.”

Kanzashi – the difference between art and the decorative

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Untitled-20 copay copy


Untitled-23 copy


By Miriam Slater:

The designs in most Japanese kanzashi most commonly are drawn from nature, such as animals ( tortoise, cranes and fish), plants (bamboo, flowers and pine trees) or landscapes (harbors, waves and mountains). Much harder to find are kanzashi in which people are depicted. The inclusion of human beings (to me at least) gives the piece a more personal touch and demands more from an artist because people are complex to render, as can be seen in the elaborate silver piece depicting a man seated on a lotus leaf. For this reason and the fact that they are so rare, hair ornaments which depict people are considered very collectable. Shown here are a few pieces from my collection except the comb depicting the man and monkey which is from the Okasaki collection.


kanzashi orian

Oiran or Japan’s highest ranking courtesans were the grandest and most spectacular women of the “floating world”. The word oiran means “first flower” which poetically indicates their exalted status in society. Like geisha they often had humble beginnings, and many were originally sold into the business as children and were left to work their way up over the years as apprentices. Oiran should not be confused with geisha whose dress was more subtle and simple. Oiran, known for their beauty, artistry and intelligence, dictated the fashions of the day and influenced many artists, poets and musicians. They are part of Japan’s cultural legacy and the famous oiran parade called the “oiran-dochu” is still re-enacted in Japan today.  An oiran’s costume consists of many layers of thick padded kimonos along with a large ornate brocade obi tied in the front as was required in her profession. (Kimonos traditionally are tied in the back). She wore towering black lacquer geta which caused her to require assistance to walk. Her hair was arranged in an elaborate hair style with large hair ornaments artfully placed, displaying her rank and status. Objects worn by the oiran are hard to find these days, but I was lucky enough to obtain some of these tortoise pieces as well as this amazing pair of black lacquer shoes from the early 1900’s. One can only imagine the stories these pieces have to tell!


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Longlocks Hair Sticks

http://www.longlocks.com

Your long locks are truly one-of-a-kind. Shouldn't your hair jewelry be?

Creative Museum

www.creative-museum.com

Two sparrows clutch berries in this clear horn comb by Albert Vigan, c. 1900

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The Comg: Its History and Development

Lavishly illustrated with over 500 photographs, this is a wide-ranging, scholarly reference book.

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http://kanzashicollector.com

I hope to share the beauty of Japanese hair ornaments with a broader audience.

Kajetan Fiedorowicz: Artist, Collector

kdg.com.au

May peace and human kindness be victorious over war.

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www.jessicabeauchemin.ca

"to link the nuances of creation to the precision of the handwork"

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www.antiquecombclub.com

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http://paper.li/BarbaraAnneMuse/1311651488

Connecting hair comb collectors and major museums

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