Modern society lauds ladies’ fashion to be the fastest-moving, biggest and most lucrative of all industries. Season after season, style after style, time after time.
Do you know that women and their ingenuity have been the driving force behind this industry that grows the money and manner since the feudal times? We’re talking about Japan now but honestly, it could mean anywhere.
Where it all started
In the peak of the Edo period, women had grown cleverer, more experimental, with their fashion and styling. If the Heian period had been all about unbound, flowing hair (垂髪-taregami), Edo saw women putting their hair up in various ways using various means -ahem-, kanzashi.
I always imagined that it had taken but one artisan, just the one who had very good foresight, good enough for him to have taken the liberty of designing and crafting more kanzashi. More to go around, more to satisfy the uniquely different tastes each lady customer came to him with.
Suddenly, kanzashi expanded to include ball (玉-tama) kanzashi, comb (櫛-kushi) kanzashi, dangling (びらびら-bira-bira) kanzashi, (花びら-hanabira) kanzashi and more… Craftsmen and women no longer limited themselves to boring, basic metals and wood. Designs wrought in gold leaf popped up. Wood kanzashi were lovingly coated in expensive lacquer. Mother-of-pearl started making her grand, iridescent appearance in kanzashi. Sometimes, the wealthy would have all three combined in a single kanzashi.
The Human Curiosity
I often wondered if it was a man or a woman who had come up with the idea of incorporating nature motifs into kanzashi, thus creating hanabira kanzashi, one upon which flowers sprouted in sweeping waves that dangle. Handcrafted from cloth, petals come together to form multiple blossoms and long trails of leaves or more petals, which would collectively come to be known as hanabira kanzashi, later tsumami kanzashi.
Maybe, I should make a proper trip down to a library and really look around. I could do more poking around on the Internet but Facebook is just so distracting…