Feature for November, 1999


picture of feature

Before the Nara period, combs were simple and prong shaped . During the Nara period (710 - 940 A.D.), Chinese culture was introduced into Japan. Under the Chinese influences, the comb took on the horizontal shape that is seen today. However, hair ornaments were not popularized until the Edo period.

Prior to the Edo period, Japan was a war torn country. Luxurious clothing and accessories were uncommon, as women were mistreated in a male dominated culture. During these times, women wore long hair, tied loosely in the back with a simple string. As the economy flourished during the peaceful Edo period, women gradually came to express their individuality by dressing in beautiful kimonos. Women wore intricate hair styles with various binding and pinning techniques using hair pins, combs, bars and inserts. Hair styles were considered to symbolize the soul of a woman, and naturally hair ornaments played an important role in the wardrobe. Hair-pins (kanzashi) originated as "Kazashi no hana", which were believed to magically endow a woman with the pureness and essence of flowers. In contrast to westerners who wore jewelry, Japanese women wore hair ornaments. Hair accessories were often given as gifts.

During the Edo period, the craftsmanship of hair ornaments advanced, the number of styles increased, and the designs became extremely intricate. Ornaments were decorated with multi-colored lacquer and gold, silver and mother of pearl inlays. The combs were constructed of cherry, plum and various aromatic woods; ivory; turtle shell; crystal; horn; gold, silver and copper.

Prices are quoted at the beginning of the feature month. We reserve the right to change prices at any time. Please note that we do not update this page to reflect availability of items. If you are interested in purchasing any items, please contact Harumi Antiques.

To see a larger image of each piece, click on the image (~100K).

picture in a new window 1) Comb and kanzashi (hair pin) set
  • Chrysanthemum design in gold and mother of pearl on red lacquer on a wood base.
  • 7 ½" and 3 ¾"
  • ca. 1920
  • $250, s/h $20
picture in a new window 2) Comb and hair bar set
  • Design of autumn flowers in colored lacquer and mother of pearl on a beige background on a wood base.
  • 6" and 3 ¾"
  • ca. 1930
  • $200, s/h $20
picture in a new window 3) Comb and hair bar set
  • Intricate flower designs in gold and colored lacquer on a tortoise shell base.
  • 6"
  • ca, 1880
  • $300, s/h $20
picture in a new window 4) Little girl's comb and pin
  • Hundreds of small flower pedals made out of thin silk fabric (tsumami zaiku) glued onto a wooden base.
  • 3 ¾" and 6"
  • Ca. 1940
  • $30 each, s/h $20
picture in a new window 5) Pair of kanzashi (pins)
  • Sho-chiku- bai and heavenly bamboo design made of delicately cut tortoise shell and coral. The Sho-chiku-bai design (pine-bamboo-plum) is a common Japanese design that symbolizes luck.
  • 6"
  • ca.1920
  • $300, s/h $30
picture in a new window 6) Long and short hair pins
  • Made of silver and coral.
  • 7 ½" and 4"
  • ca. 1880
  • $150 and $30, s/h $20 each
picture in a new window 7) Hair pins
  • Chrysanthemum design, made of tortoise shell.
  • 6"
  • ca, 1920
  • $150 each, s/h $20 each
picture in a new window 8) Hair inserts
  • Kiri (Paulownia) tree design in tortoise shell. Bamboo-plum design in silver, with a small pin made of silver and coral.
  • 8", 4"
  • ca. 1900
  • $150, $50, s/h 20 each
picture in a new window 9) Pair of bride's hair pins
  • Plum and peony blossom design. Made of silver. This hair ornament is larger than typical hair ornaments. Silver kanzashi (hair pins) are a specialty of Akita prefecture.
  • 8"
  • ca.1830
  • $300, s/h $20
picture in a new window 10) Hair bar and insert
  • Rabbit motif in raised gold lacquer and balls made of tortoise shell with intricate designs.
  • 5"
  • ca 1830
  • $500, s/h $20
picture in a new window 11) Three combs
  • Three high quality combs, in an older style with simple but delicate designs.
  • 4"
  • ca,1850
  • $250, s/h $20
picture in a new window 12) Two combs
  • Two combs in an older style. Plum blossom design in mother of pearl on a black lacquered wood base. Flower design in gold on tortoise shell base.
  • 4"
  • ca.
  • $150 and $100 s/h $20

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