The Ancient Library

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On this page: Hair (continued)




The Roman matrons, in ancient times, tied up their hair with a fillet (vitta) in a tower-shaped top-knot (tfitulus); but un-

lair-destroying compositions. The hair of the head was artificially treated with oils and hot irons. From the middle of the 2nd century A.D. to the time of Constautiue it was the established custom to cut the hair quite short, after the fashion of athletes and Stoic philosophers. As Greeks and Romans usually went bareheaded, good manners required particular attention to be paid to the hair and beard. Hence a great demand arose for barbers, part of whose business it was to trim the nails, remove warts, and so on. The barbers' shops were much frequented, and became the favourite resort for people in quest of news and gossip. The Greek women, to judge by existing monuments, followed an extraordinary variety of fashions (fig. 1, a-h). The point seems generally to have been to cover the forehead as much as possible. One of the commonest modes of wearing the hair was to draw it back over the head and ears, and let it simply hang down, or fasten it in a knot with a band and a needle. The bands of cloth or leather, wound round the front of the head to fasten the front and back hair, were often made to support a pointed metal plate called stiphane. This was a broad strip of metal resembling a diadem, and richly ornamented. It some­times appears as an independent ornament, especially on the images of goddesses (fig. 1, c, d, f, g). There were several kinds of fastenings, by which the hair was artisti­cally arranged; for instance, the sphenddne", so called from its likeness to a sling, being broad in the middle and narrow at the end. The hair was often worn in nets (kekry-phalOs), bags (sakkOs), and handkerchiefs wrapped round it in the shape of a cap. Greek ladies were early acquainted with the use of artificial appliances, such as fragrant oils, curling irons, and the like.

married women wore their hair in as simple a style as possible. It was, in general, merely parted, or fastened up in a knot on the neck, or woven in tresses arranged round the front of the head. Brides wore their hair in a peculiar fashion, arranged in six braids, and wrapped in a red handker­chief. To attract attention by an unusual coiffure was thought to be in bad taste. But, towards the end of the republican age, the old-fashioned simplicity in dress­ing the hair disappeared, as it did in other

(3) * coiffures op imperial roman ladies (prom coins).

matters of dress. Foreign arts, especially those of Greece and Asia, found more and more acceptance. During the imperial period, when the arrangement of the hair

a, b, c, h, i, It. Ivory hair-pins. /. Bronze comb. e. Pomatum-box, with resting Cupid, d, g. Hand mirrors.

(4) HAIR-PINS, ETC. (From Pompeii.'

formed a most important part of a lady's toilet, no rule was observed but what indi­vidual caprice and varying fashion dictated, and the wildest and most tasteless fashions were introduced. False hair came into use, as well as ointment and curling irons. False hair was used sometimes in making up the high coiffures at one time in fashion, and sometimes for perruques. Light colours were the favourite ones for perruques, and hence a regular trade was set up in the hair of German women. Sometimes, following a Greek fashion, Roman ladies tried, by artificial means, to give their own dark hair a fair or a ruddy complexion. A corrosive soap, imported from Gaul, was specially used for this purpose. Besides ribbons and

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