Wednesday, June 16, 2010

~ The Origin of Kanzashi ~

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kanzashi (簪?) are hair ornaments used in traditional Japanese hairstyles.
Kanzashi first appeared when women abandoned the traditional taregami hairstyle where the hair was kept straight and long, and adopted coiffured nihongami hairstyles. Kanzashi came into wide use during the Edo period when artisans began to produce more finely crafted products. Some believe they may also have been used for defence in an emergency.

Nowadays, kanzashi are most often worn by brides and professional kimono wearers such as geisha, tayu and yujo or adepts in Japanese tea ceremony and ikebana. However, there is currently a revival among young Japanese women who wish to add an elegant touch to their business suit.

Kanzashi are fabricated from a wide range of materials such as lacquered wood, gold and silver plated metal, tortoiseshell and silk, and recently, plastic. In fact, early bakelite kanzashi are extremely collectible.

There are many varieties and many styles of wearing them. The way in which a geisha wears her kanzashi indicates her status immediately to an informed audience; according to the type and location of the kanzashi. Maiko (apprentice geisha) usually wear more numerous and elaborate kanzashi than older geisha and progress through several hairstyles where the kanzashi must be worn in a fixed pattern.

^ History^

Kanzashi were first used in Japan during the Jōmon period. During that time, a single thin rod or stick was considered to have mystical powers which could ward off evil spirits, so people would wear them in their hair. This is also when some of the first predecessors of the modern Japanese hair comb began to appear.

During the Nara period, a variety of Chinese cultural aspects and items were brought to Japan, including zan (written with the same Chinese character as kanzashi) and other hair ornaments. During the Heian period, the traditional style of putting hair up was changed to wearing it long, tied back, and down. It was at this time that kanzashi began to be used as a general term for any hair ornament, including combs and hairpins.
During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, the hairstyles changed from the taregami (垂髪?), or long straight hair, to the wider variety of "Japanese hair" (日本髪, Nihongami?) which make more use of hair ornaments.

A number of hair ornaments were also developed and used as defensive weapons in case of an emergency during the Edo period. Hairstyles became more complicated and large during the middle part of the Edo period, using a larger number of ornaments. During the latter part of the Edo period, the craftsmanship of kanzashi reached a high point, with many different styles and designs being created (see Types of kanzashi, below).

Currently, the use of kanzashi has declined significantly in favor of more Western hairstyles. The most common use of kanzashi now is in Shinto weddings and use by geisha.

Traditional Kanzashi
^ Types of Kanzashi ^
There are several basic kanzashi styles, along with more complex hana (flower) and seasonal arrangements as well.

^Basic kanzashi^

Bira bira - also called Fluttering or Dangling style, these are composed of metal strips attached by rings to the body of the ornament so that they move independently, pleasantly tinkling (which is sometimes accentuated by additional bells) or long chains of silk flowers called shidare.

Kogai - rods of Becco ( tortoiseshell or artificial ) or other materials such as ceramics or metals. Kogai means sword in Japanese. This is appropriate because many Kogai Kanzashi are formed from a pin and a sleeve, like a sword and its sheath. They are often sold as a set with an accompaning kushi comb.

Kushi are comb kanzashi rather than pins like the majority of kanzashi. These are usually rounded combs made of tortoiseshell or lacquered wood, often with inlaid mother of pearl or gilding, placed into a mage (bun-style hairdo). The spine of the comb is often wide in order to allow maximum space for the design, and in many cases, the design will extend into the teeth. Also, there are "flower-combs" called hanagushi which are made by glueing folded pieces of silk to a wooden base comb.

Kanoko Dome - are heavily jewelled accessories crafted with some or all of the following: gold, silver, tortoiseshell, jade, coral, pearls and other semi-precious stones. While the general shape is rounded, they are also found in other shapes, with flowers and butterflies being the most popular. The kanoko dome is worn at the back of the wareshinobu hairstyle of the junior maiko and has two prongs that hold it securely in the "mage".

Ōgi - also called Princess style, they are metal, fan-shaped and kamon-imprinted kanzashi with aluminium streamers held in place by a long pin. These are usually worn by maiko in the hair just above the temple. Very junior maiko wear two. 

geisha doll

Tsumami Kanzashi - literally, 'folded fabric hair ornament'. Tsumami kanzashi are made from tiny (usually 1") squares of silk which are folded into petals using origami techniques. Flowers are made from these folded fabric petals and may contain anywhere from five petals to 75 or more, depending on the particular flower made.
A 'hana kanzashi' is a cluster of these flowers, and may or may not include bira-bira and/or long streamers of tsumami petals, fashioned to look like hanging wisteria petals. Generally, hana kanzashi are worn in pairs, one on either side of the head, often with a complimentaty kushi and/or with several individual flowers scattered about the hair.

 ^ Hana Kanzashi ^ With Hana kanzashi, the long fluttering flower is characteristic of maiko. These are created by Japanese artisans from squares of silk by a technique known as tsumami. Each square is multiply folded with the aid of pincers and cut into a single petal. These are attached to backings of metal to create whole flowers, or attached to silken threads to create strings of blossom. Butterflies and birds are also common in this art form. Additional detailing of stamens is created by the use of mizuhiki, which is a strong thin twine made from washi paper, and is often coloured and used for decorative works.

Geisha wear different hana kanzashi according to the month, or public holiday. In the summer months (June to September), jade ornaments with white or silver themes are worn. During the winter months (October to May), tortoiseshell and coral kanzashi are worn.

Geisha traditional dolls

^Seasonal kanzashi^

The seasons dictate which kind of hair ornament is worn in Japan. Usually this applies above all to the geisha and maiko, who tend to be the only Japanese women to wear kanzashi often enough for seasonal changes to be noticeable. Since maiko wear more kanzashi than senior geisha, seasonal changes are even more important for them.

January - The design of January kanzashi differs from year to year, but usually has an auspicious Japanese New Year theme. Shouchikubai is a popular choice, a combination of pine (matsu), bamboo (take) and ume blossom, (green, red and white) which is usually associated with celebrations.
February - Usually trailing deep pink, or sometimes red, ume blossoms, which is to be seen everywhere in Japan at this time and symbolises young love and the approach of spring. Another less common theme is the pinwheel.
March - Trailing yellow and white rape blossoms (nanohana) and butterflies, as well as peach blossoms (momo), narcissi (suisen), and peonies (botan).
April - Trailing soft pink cherry blossom (sakura) mixed with butterflies and bonbori lanterns, signalling the approach of summer. Cherry Blossom Viewing at this time of year is a major cultural event in Japan. Also, kanzashi consisting of a single silver (or sometimes gold) butterfly (cho) made of mizuhiki cord are common.
May - Trailing purple wisteria (fuji) and flag irises (ayame), usually of the blue variety. Irises denote the height of spring. Small silver butterflies also pop up as extra decorations in May.

Modern Kimono

June - Trailing green willow (yanagi) leaves with pinks, or less commonly hydrangea (ajisai) flowers. Willow is a traditional image associated with geisha. This month is the rainy season in Japan and therefore willow (a water loving tree) and the washy blue of hydrangea is appropriate.
July - Kanzashi featuring a display of fans. These will usually be of the round uchiwa variety, but occasionally folding dancing fans are also featured. The fans refer to the Gion Festival which takes place at this time, a huge event held at the Gion geisha district in Kyoto, which involves hundreds of traditional dances by geisha. Fans are a staple component of traditional Japanese dance. The fans featured in a maiko's July kanzashi varies each year, in line with the Festival. There are common themes such as dragonflies and lines denoting swirling water. Other kanzashi worn during July are the fireworks kanzashi and tsuyushiba (dew drops on grass).

August - Purple morning glory (asagao) or susuki grass. The susuki grass appears as a starburst of spines. Senior maiko wear silver-white and junior maiko wear pink or red.
September - Japanese bellflower (kikyo). The purple tones are traditionally associated with autumn. Often these will be mixed with the other autumn flowers: bush clover, patrinia, chrysanthemum, Japanese boneset, kudzu and pinks.

October - Chrysanthemum (kiku). These are well loved in Japan, and are a symbol of the Imperial Family. Usually the chrysanthemums featured are red and white, a combination which signals the height of autumn.
November - Trailing autumnal leaves. These may be a generic yellow leaf or the characteristic red maple leaf. Maple viewing is the autumnal equivalent in Japan of cherry blossom viewing. Ginkgo and liquidambar leaves are also employed.
December - The Japanese make mochi at this time of year, and often decorate trees with them, to represent white flowers. It is thought to be good luck to wear kanzashi featuring mochibana, or ricecake flowers. December kanzashi also feature two maneki which are tiny blank tags. Traditionally maiko visit the Minamiza Theatre and ask two of their favourite Kabuki actors to autograph them with their Kabuki nom de plume. Some December kanzashi also include bamboo leaves.
New Year - At this time of year all maiko and geisha wear unhusked rice ears on the right side of their coiffure. These kanzashi also feature eyeless white doves. The maiko and geisha fill in one eye and ask somebody they like to draw the other.
All pictures source : random from search engine