The latest member of my maiko katsura collection will be joining us soon…this time, it’s a sakkou-style wig! Sakkou is the name of the hairstyle that a maiko wears 2 weeks before “turning her collar” in a ceremony known as erikae, which marks her transition from maiko to geiko. (In other words, she graduates from apprentice status to the big-time.)
Sakkou (short for Saki Kougai Mage 先笄髷) is the most complicated hairstyle that a maiko will ever wear. Personally, I love this style! (To see what sakkou looks like on maiko-san, scroll down this thread here)
This is the first time I have ever even seen a sakkou katsura. I suppose that since maiko use their real hair, the only ones who need wigs are those that dress up in henshin or for theater performances. I thought that the market for maiko katsura was small….imagine how small it must be for sakkou katsura! The only ones who really use it anymore are maiko san, and only for a relatively short period of time, at that. The seller that I bought it from said that it has been used in dance performances and on stage.
The sakkou style is decorated with special kanzashi made out bekko (tortoise shell). Tortoiseshell is very pretty, but also very controversial, since the way in which it was produced makes animal-rights activists horrified. In the U.S. it is technically illegal to own, import, buy, or sell anything made out tortoiseshell without a whole bunch of permits and documentation. This is done in order to protect the exploitation of the endangered species of sea turtle that is is made of. So, I’m going to have to find plastic, resin, or celluloid ones that imitate the look of tortoiseshell. That way, I can still have the look and not break any laws. 😉
A lot of kanzashi that are made today are only painted/stained to imitate the look of bekko, but unfortunately I am having a rather hard time finding them. Since it is apparently not against the law to sell old tortoiseshell in Japan, Yahoo Japan Auctions is full of the real-deal items. I was told that the way to tell the difference is that real bekko will have worm bites in it, because it is an organic substance. Production of real bekko kanzashi was stopped a while ago, so the real ones are by now crumbling, have holes, etc. So if it looks new I think I should be safe. However, to make sure, I only plan on buying them if in the listing it states it is made out of plastic, etc. Don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or get in legal trouble!