Condition: Excellent, Great

Vintage Lacquered Kushi and Kanzashi Inlaid with Aogai | 1920

Vintage Japanese Golden bakelite Red and Gold Lacquered Kushi (Comb) and Kanzashi (Hairpin) set with Mother of Pearl, (Aogai), inlay on one side with kiku blossoms, (chrysanthemum), on both sides. The kanzashi, with ‘ear cleaner’ scooped end, is similarly decorated. The use of the blue-green inside of the abalone, (aogai in Japanese), was introduced to Japan in the early 16th Century and used extensively throughout the 19th Century. Dimensions: Kushi – 3-3/4”L x 2-1/2”h; Kanzashi – 7-1/4”L. Condition: Very Good with all the combdrumbs, (teeth) intact.

Additional Information —
A Japanese comb and hairpin is about much more than just styling your hair. Some 400 years ago, Japan took the simple comb and transformed it into an elegant beauty accessory that became a work of art. Japanese kushi, (combs), and kanzashi, (hairpin), became expressions of a woman’s character, social class, religion. People could even tell what neighborhood someone lived in by looking at their hair ornaments. According to an ancient Japanese proverb, “A woman’s hair is her life”, (Kami wa onna no inochi), and from the early 1600’s until the beginning of the modern era, decorative combs and hairpins have been an important part of Japanese fashion.

Kushi and Kanzashi are elaborate Japanese hair ornaments often worn with traditional Japanese clothing in the past, which continues throughout contemporary Japanese society. There are many different styles of Kushi & Kanzashi, depending upon what they are made from and how they are fastened into the hair.

The majority of Kushi & Kanzashi are made from Bakelite, which is probably the most collectible — and valuable — plastic in existence today. In the 1920s, production began on bakelite jewellery in Japan; the colorful pieces, which in many cases incorporate gold, silver and mother of pearl, were attractive and affordable to people of all classes. They could be produced in various colors, but the most common were yellow, butterscotch, red, green and brown. Bakelite could also be transparent, or marbelized by mixing two colors. Kushi & Kanzashi are often still made by hand, as they are intended for an extraordinary variety of hairstyles. Both come in quite a variety of shapes and in several instances “rare” materials have also been used including ivory, tortoise shell, jade, coral, and precious stone. Bamboo and wooden combs were usually soaked in camellia oil to keep their shine for many years.

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