Kokei (high chignon) was hair style for noblewomen in Nara period. This hair style employed the hair style for ladies in Tang Dynasty in China as a model and hair styles similar to kokei were sokei (twin chignons) and ikkei (single chignon). A kind of ikkei, with mage (chignon) made on the top of the head and the hair on the back of the head hanging down was done by uneme who served the emperors even when Heian period started.
(ONO no Komachi, a lady in early Heian period who was a tanka poet and was famous for her beauty, did the above kind of ikkei.)
Kokei was decorated using hana-kanzasi, an ornamental hairpin with a flower-shaped accessory, made of colored ivory having a portion to be inserted into the hair made of a metal.
How to do Kokei
The hair above the forehead is divided into two at the center and hittsume-mage, a tightly done up chignon, is left as it is.
The hair on the back of the head is bundled in one and is formed into mage on the top of the head. The main portion of this mage includes two loops formed by dividing the end of the hair into two and using these ends, and the rest of the hair is wound at the foot of this mage in a cross shape and, thereby, kokei is completed.
The hair on the temples are folded back at around the height of the shoulders and the portions at around the height of the ears are wrapped by red-colored paper sheets.
Ikkei: The hair above the forehead is divided into two at the center and are each coupled to the hair on the temple and are each folded back at the height at which the hair does not touch the shoulder to the top of the head to form mage. The hair on the back of the head is treated in the same manner and the tip of the hair is wound around the foot of mage.
Sokei: Two pieces of mage are formed in the same manner as that of kokei. A kind of sokei was also present that was formed by hanging down the hair before winding up the tip of the hair and, thereby, forming mild loops.