Hair and Hats
How we decorate our heads varies from culture to culture
Aphrodite, with her long hair, represented beauty to the Greeks, whilst the Persians fastened their fashionable hairstyles with intricate hairpins.
Ancient Egyptians used wigs to indicate social status. Europeans used headdresses for modesty or to show wealth.
Raised relief of a prince wearing the sidelock of youth
This prince’s hairstyle with a long braid at the side is an Ancient Egyptian symbol of youth. Usually children had their heads shaved, apart from this sidelock.
Made in Egypt
Head of a Lady
Many rich and powerful people wore wigs in Ancient Egypt. They were made of real hair that was curled and fixed into elaborate hairstyles.
Limestone with traces of blue pigment
Made in Egypt
Hairpins were the finishing touch on a woman’s beautiful hairstyle. The top of the pin shows the Sky God defending himself against two dragon-like animals.
About 800–700 BC
Made in Luristan, Persia, now Iran
This hair parter was used to remove knots from long hair. Usually decorated with images of animals or lovers, this one is unusual because it shows the Virgin and Child.
Made in Italy
Woman wearing a wimple
Wimples were cloths worn by women to cover their necks. Originally worn by nuns, older women and widows also wore them as a sign of modesty. Some nuns still wear them today.
1275 - 1400
Made in England
Fragment from the Virgin Mary in mourning
Historically, Christian women covered their hair like the Virgin Mary, who wears a veil to show her humility and service to Jesus. Some women continue to wear a veil in church.
Coloured, stained and painted glass, lead
Possibly made in Rouen, Normandy, France
Reliquary bust of female saint wearing a divided hennin
Saints are often shown wearing fashions of the artist’s time. This extravagant headdress was fashionable for rich and important women during the late 1400s.
About 1475–1500 or 1800s
Made in Southern Netherlands, now Belgium, or Swabia, Southern Germany