This is a broken piece of a Kamikazari (hair ornament) from the Taisho Era (1912-1926), which was used exclusively on a woman’s wedding day. The intricate sculpture is carved out of tortoise shell and was once attached to a hairpin of the same material. The single amber color with no dark pigments was a luxurious material harvested from a part of the shell. It was treasured for the way it complemented black hair.
The desire to create such an elaborate piece that was only intended to be used once in a lifetime speaks to the decadent spirit of Taisho culture. The brilliant composition and complexity of this work is remarkable. At its center is a large flower surrounded by a fan of leaves and a small bud. On each leaf, the craftsman meticulously carved slight incisions to create veins. A bird is captured in flight, hovering just over the flower. Looking closely, you can even see the feathers on the wing fold. Its flowing tail also has small engravings that are a wonderful added detail.
An inventive soul will see many possibilities in this obsolete object. As with many other works in this collection, it would make an exquisite broach. Alternatively, treat it as a beautiful found object to be appreciated as a work of art.