The very essence of ‘tsumami zaiku (摘み細工)’ lies in the artisan’s ability to arrive at intricately-detailed works-of-art out of squares of fabric that have been cut out to precise measurement. The Japanese term ‘zaiku (細工)’ delineates the amount of detail and attentiveness involved in the crafting process while true refinement happens right at the fingertips with ‘tsumami (摘み)’.
It means to pinch or fold together using one’s fingers. The glory of ‘tsumami zaiku’ has, craftsmen since ancient times, inspired Japanese to incorporate it into women’s hair-accessorizing through the ‘kanzashi (簪)’, traditional hair accessories with which Japanese women dressed their hair.
The height of femininity
By incorporating the spirit of Japanese iki as well as the wearable aspects of tsumami zaiku with the backbone of Japanese kanzashi, the ‘tsumami kanzashi (摘み簪)’ comes alive with enduring beauty and elegance.
Across Japan, as the generations have so modernized since historical times, the geiko and tsumami kanzashi subcultures have come to be so deeply entwined with each other that the very vision of a budding maiko with her elaborate hairdo festooned with tsumami kanzashi is indisputably symbolic of the Japanese culture.
Today, there are less than 100 artisans who still pursue the traditional art of tsumami kanzashi.
However, with the resilience of the creative human spirit and cooperative nature of widespread modernization of society, it is not impossible for the tsumami kanzashi to re-emerge from relative obscurity and start taking root once more in the hearts of the people.