Saturday, April 26, 2014

History's Runway: An Ancient Egyptian Wig

Human Hair Wig
Thebes, Egypt
18th Dynasty, 1550-1300 BC
The British Museum

Historians and archaeologists believe that most ancient Egyptians kept their hair cropped very short or shaved altogether as a means of combating the hot climate. Wigs were worn on special occasions. Historians have recorded that most artistic representations of ancient Egyptians depict the subject wearing a wig. At a point, even false beards were worn by men.

If that’s the case, then, one would think we’d have museums awash in Egyptian wigs. However, they are rather difficult to come by. This wig was found in a tomb in Thebes, and was, remarkably, in its original box. Still in excellent condition, this wig is constructed of human hair which has been pressed into a molded wax scalp. Hundreds of individual hairs were pressed into the wax. The upper layer of the wig is comprised of bleached human hair which has been curled. Each curl has been impregnated with wax so that it will hold its shape.

Since being brought into the collection of the British Museum, this hairpiece was studied by a prominent wigmaker who declared the coiffure to be just as sturdy and as masterfully made as any modern wig. No wonder it’s lasted as long as it has.

1 comment:

Java Bean Rush said...

The bottom part appears to be braided. Interesting mix of styles and colors in one wig.

The bold, two-toned look has made a comeback in British youth, if Youtube internet stars are any indication.

This is fascinating. Thanks for this.