Jewels, Hair and Accessories of the Middle Ages
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What did Hair Symbolize in the Middle Ages?
Categories: Hair, Uncategorized

Why is hair important?

1. hair can be like clothing, malleable, changeable with dye, styling, accessories, yet it grows from the body and is more organic.

2. hair surrounds the face, the most communicatively diverse area of the body, ie its the most socially visible.

3. In come cases gives biological information

In the Middle Ages:

-Long hair was a sign of high rank.

– Women covered their hair at all times, unless they were young girls, brides, or queens at coronations. Sometimes during mourning a woman would uncover her head and tear at her hair. This was looked down upon by the church.

– Young boys were not considered men until a symbolic “first hair-cut.” The giver of this haircut was symbolically important to the young boy.

– Hairstyles that did not fit the social conventions were considered barbaric. Conquered Irish men were differentiated from Anglo-Saxons by their long hair in the back, and were forbidden by law to emulate Anglo-Saxon hairstyles. A problem arose when it became fashionable to Anglo-Saxon men to have long hair in the back. The trend was banned.

Symbolic Meanings of Hair in the Middle Ages
Author(s): Robert Bartlett
Source: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Sixth Series, Vol. 4 (1994), pp. 43-60
Published by: Royal Historical Society
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