Japanese Traditional Jewelry

Japanese traditional jewelryJapanese women’s traditional costume has not accept wrist jewelry and necklaces, so hair ornaments were the only type of japanese traditional jewelry. So they have become the main way of a self-expression as well as a demonstration of taste and wealth of their owner. When about 400 years ago the style of the female hair changed and the long straight hair was laid in intricate and fantastic shapes – nihongami, hair ornaments have get a very important role in the wardrobe of a Japanese woman. Japanese kushi (combs) and kanzashi (hairpins) became the expressions of the female character, social status and marital status. Woman’s hair can tell us what social class she belongs to, whether she was married or single, we can learn her age and even quantity of her children. Often, the cost of the hair ornament exceeded the cost of the expensive embroidered silk kimono. Prior to the modern era, the decorative combs and hairpins, known as kanzashi, have been an important part of Japanese fashion and social culture.

Kanzashi manufactured from a wide range of materials such as lacquered wood, gold and silver, various metals (often coated with silver or gold), tortoise shells, and silk, however, now kanzashi are usually made from plastic. There are many options and many styles of wearing kanzashi. The way in which the geisha wears her hair ornaments, immediately indicates her status to an informed audience, because the number and location of the kanzashi in her hair is strictly regulated. Maiko (apprentice geisha) is usually wearing a lot more jewelry on her head than older geisha.

A special place among kanzashi take Hana kanzashi – floral hair decorations – pins, barrettes, combs and sticks with silk flowers. They are made of silk squares and created by Japanese masters using the technique known as tsumami (folding). Each square of fabric, folded with the forceps, is transformed into a flower petal. They are attached to the base to create whole flowers, or collected by a silk thread, to receive the sequence of colors.

Geisha wears different hana kanzashi according to the month or holiday. Seasonal kanzashi repeated natural flowering plants in different seasons. This applies primarily to the geishas – they are always wearing kanzashi, and have to pay attention to the seasons. Since maiko wears more kanzashi than senior geisha, seasonal changes are more evident in their jewelry.

For example kanzashi for April decorated by Light pink cherry blossoms (sakura) have become a signal that summer is coming soon. «Cherry Blossom Viewing» in this time of year is the main cultural event in Japan. In April also kanzashi may consist only silver and golden butterflies.

Now kanzashi are often worn by bridal and those who wear a kimono, or people which professions are related to Japanese traditions: geishas, connoisseurs of the Japanese tea ceremony and creation of ikebana. However, at the date there is a revival of the kanzashi wearing raditions among young Japanese women who want to add elegance to their hairstyles.

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