May 13, 2013


Combs in the Museum

Generally called as “Zhi”, combs were one of the eight hair ornaments in ancient China. An old saying goes: Yangzhou-made rouge, and Suzhou local flowers are highly famed, but Changzhou-made combs are the best in China. Changzhou-made combs was originated from Jin Dynasty (AD265—420), and have enjoyed a long history of above 1600 years. The scene of “The reflection of the moon in the water is seen as crossing Wenheng Bridge; and the lamplight in the comb-makers lane reflect on the canal” was reputed as one of the eight scenic sites in Changzhou in Qing Dynasty. Besides, the verse in the Changzhou Appraisal says, “Combs are made by cutting bamboo (bamboos); Changzhou-made ones are popular among all royal families.” Such description proves that how prosperous the comb-making in Changzhou was in the history.

In Qing Dynasty, Changzhou Textile Manufacture & Taxation Agency customized a batch of high class combs for the royal families every year; therefore, Changzhou-made combs were also reputed as “Royal Combs”. A Changzhou-made ivory comb used daily for Empress Dowager Cixi by her well-known eunuch Li Lianying was still reserved in the Beijing Palace Museum. The high reputation of Changzhou-made combs should be due to its strict material choosing, unique workmanship and high quality.


ChangZhou Comb

Nowadays, while inheriting and carrying forward the fine traditions of skills of engraving, drawing, carving and ironing”, the local handicraftsmen keep emerging out of the old by integrating with the features of daily appliance, artwork and decorations and make Changzhou-made combs become daily-use artware full of national traditions and artcharms. The new products include “Longevity Combs” integrated with functions of appreciation and healthcare; model appreciation style combs, like “Four Beauties”, “The Twelve Beauties of Jinling”; tourist souvenir, like butterfly, dragon, types of facial make-up, and nation babies, and various exquisitely carved fine toothed combs, all of which enjoy original design that you can hardly bear to put it down. The heroine in the American movie of Charlie’s Angel always wears a Changzhou-made comb as a brooch. And even the former Indonesian president Sukarno brought two Changzhou-made combs back as souvenir after his visit to China. Besides, Changzhou-made combs are highly praised by overseas media and much favored by different tourists.

In the last hundred years, Changzhou-made combs have won many medals in different international and domestic exhibitions, such as the Silver Medal awarded by the Panama Peace Exhibition in 1915, the gold medal awarded by the World’s Fair in Philadelphia in 1926, the national silver medal awarded by the state in 1981, the gold medal awarded by the Second Beijing International Fair and the tourist commodities specially recommended by China Tourist Commodities Fair in 2000. Furthermore, Changzhou-made combs were highly appraised as the designated exhibition gift by guests at home and abroad when the host city for World Expo 2010 was chosen by Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) in Monaco on December 3, 2002.


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