Kanzashi are elaborate Japanese hair ornaments that are often worn with traditional Japanese clothing. There are many different types of kanzashi, depending on what they are made of and how they are attached to the hair.
Jomon period, 12,000 - 300 BC.
This prehistoric period of Japanese culture marks the beginning of what would later become an extremely complex civilisation. Throughout this period, it was common for a large number of people to wear a single stick in their hair, with the belief that it repelled evil spirits.
Nara period, 710 - 795 AD.
Throughout this era, Japanese society was beginning to thrive, while still being strongly oriented towards rice agriculture in small villages. Many cultural features, including clothing and art styles, were imported from China. It was during this time period that Kanzashi as well as other hair adornments began to be introduced from China and heavily shaped the style of the Japanese ruling class.
Heian period, 795 - 1185 AD.
This period is best known as the height of culture and class in the imperial court. During this period, the samurai class flourished. As culture grew and hairstyles changed, Kanzashi became the general term for many different types of hair ornaments, including sticks, combs and pins.
Edo period, 1603 - 1868 AD.
This period of Japanese history is characterised by economic growth and strict government policies regarding social order and foreign influences. Kanzashi became extremely popular during this period and artists began to create increasingly elaborate designs, including those that could be used as weapons.
Kanzashi are considered traditional hair ornaments that can be worn at festivals or stage performances. These elaborate designs may include combs, bells, silk flowers, jade and coral. Like most Japanese styles, Kanzashi designs vary according to the season, age and rank of the wearer.