Miriam Slater Kanzashi Collection
This collection of Kanzashi (or Japanese hair ornaments) are all from the 1800’s or early 1900’s. Kanzashi were made in a variety of precious materials including silver, coral, lacquer and tortoise. Some of the pieces were worn by geisha and the largest were worn by Japanese’s most expensive courtesans called oiran. The type and number of kanzashi arranged on a woman’s head depicted her status and position and was strictly regulated by law. For example, geisha wore simpler kanzashi than the oiran whose kanzashi were quite large and elaborate. In fact oiran were said to have worn the value of a house on their head and were called “castletoppers” because one’s castle had to be sold to maintain her. Geisha, in contrast wore simpler pieces in a sophisticated understated manner and their apprentices (called maiko) wore colorful pieces and handmade silk flower ornaments. Over time in Japan Kanzashi became much more than a simple hair ornaments and evolved into true works of art, as you, the viewer, can see when looking at the antique kanzashi on this site which dazzle the eye in their inventiveness and beauty.