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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    1800 - 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Yôkei (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tortoiseshell with black lacquer and green, pink and yellow oil painting and aogai shell

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Fumie Kosuge

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Japanese hairpin or bodkin was originally a pin to roll the hair into a chignon.. From the late seventeenth century onwards, however, it became an ornate hair ornament. The more elaborate hairpin consisted of two sections, such as this example, so that the pin could be inserted into the hairstyle without spoiling it. Both ends of the hairpin were usually decorated since these were the only parts visible when worn. Combs and hairpins were often paired as a set which corresponded in material, technique and subject. This hairpin is a pair with the comb FE.37-2002.

Over the centuries, hairstyles and hair ornaments underwent considerable transformation in Japan. From roughly the twelfth to the late sixteenth centuries, it was customary for women to wear their hair long and loose without ornamentation. Thereafter hair was put up with increasingly elaborate hair ornaments. At first hair ornaments were mostly confined to women of the elite but, from the mid eighteenth century onwards, they were increasingly available to all strata of society. During the Edo period (1615-1868), women used a wide variety of combs (kushi), bodkins or hairpins (kanzashi) and hairpins (kogai) in a wide range of materials, such as wood, ivory and tortoiseshell, which were most commonly decorated with lacquer. Not only did the hairstyle and its ornaments reflected the age, social class and marital status of the woman, but the hair ornaments also reflected the individual’s taste.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


1800 - 1850 (made)


Yôkei (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Tortoiseshell with black lacquer and green, pink and yellow oil painting and aogai shell


Height: 1.35 cm, Width: 14.95 cm, Depth: 0.90 cm

Descriptive line

Hairpin, tortoiseshell with black lacquer and green, pink and yellow oil painting and aogai shell, decorated with chrysanthemums, signed Yôkei, Japanese, 1800-1850

Production Note

Although this is not signed, it is part of a pair with FE.37-2002, which is signed Yôkei. The identical decoration and techniques suggest that this was undoubtedly by the same artist.


Lacquer; Shell; Tortoise-shell

Subjects depicted



Accessories; Hats & headwear


East Asia Collection

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