November 12, 2019

The Meiji Scroll Tiara

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One of the oldest (perhaps the oldest) tiaras currently in use in the Japanese imperial collection is this one: a diamond tiara with base of scrolls that support a series of large single diamonds.

 It's said to be a Chaumet tiara dating from about 1885 or so, and indeed it can be seen gracing the head of each empress in the modern era from Empress Shōken on. Shōken (1849-1914) was the wife of the Meiji emperor, who reigned from 1867 to 1912. During the Meiji era, Japan became more open to Western influence - including the introduction of tiaras like this one, which were not a part of traditional Japanese dress.

 The tiara has been passed to each empress since the Meiji era. It was worn by Empress Teimei (1884-1951), the wife of the Taishō emperor, and then by Empress Kōjun (1903-2000), wife of the Shōwa emperor (also known as Emperor Hirohito, the previous emperor). It is today worn by Empress Michiko, wife of the current emperor, Akihito.

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