Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Burmese Double Comb, Late Eighteenth Century

Burmese Double-Sided Comb
Late Nineteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in Burma around 1875, this double-sided, wooden comb is mounted with gold and inlaid with a trellis-work of un-faceted rubies and emeralds the traditional Burmese style. Such a comb would have been the stuff of a Burmese court lady's cosmetic box. These handy boxes were known as a “bi-it.” Aside from combs, they usually held, perfumes, a few tresses of hair (to augment a lady’s hair like a wig-let) and thanahka (powder).

This particular comb is believed to be of royal provenance. The very stringent laws of the Burmese court of Mandalay during the time of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885) restricted the use of precious gemstones to only royalty and courtiers.

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