The Changzhou comb is a well-known traditional handicraft of China with a history of more than 1,500 years. This isn’t like any ordinary comb––it was in vogue during the Qing Dynasty (1616 – 1911) as an accessory for royalty and proclaimed by Sui Dynasty (581 – 618) physicians as an antidote for hair loss and headaches. At production sites in Jiangsu Province, skilled artisans create the combs using boxwood, sandalwood, Chinese Photiniaor cherry wood before carefully painting one of the four Chinese beauties on them. Once complete, they seem fit for a display case rather than actual use, but many Chinese might find them better suited for combing therapy.
Four Beauties Comb
An ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method of health care, combing therapy is an extension of tuina (推拏, Chinese medical massage) and self-care therapies daoyin (導引, guiding and stretching) and yangshen (养生, nourishing life) techniques. Hair and skin are generally believed to be mirrors that reflect one’s health, but in TCM, hair is also deemed to have a close relationship with the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and brain. Dark, sleek, soft and fast-growing hair is evidence of a body full of vital energy and blood and a healthy brain. Sparse or white hair indicates disease and decrepitude.
Mental health is also related to changes in the condition of hair, according to TCM. Hair will turn white or fall out if one is narrow-minded, burdened with anxiety or mentally too tired. As an old Chinese saying goes,“Laugh once and be 10 years younger, but worry will turn your hair white” (笑一笑，十年少，愁一愁，白了头 Xiào yīxiào, shí niánshào, chóu yī chóu, báile tóu).
- Changzhou Comb Chinese Traditional Carving and Painting Process Chinese Traditional HandiCrafts Four Beauties Traditional Culture and Art
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