Brooch decorated with human hair, Europe, 1701-1900

Made:
1701-1900 in Europe
maker:
Unknown

Brooch, containing a graveyard scene with trees, flowers, a pond and a tomb, made up from hair, mounted in an oval metal frame and covered with glass, fastener missing

The scene of the brooch is made from human hair. It shows a graveyard scene with a weeping willow tree overhanging a gravestone inscribed: ‘IN MEMORY OF A.G.’ Jewellery such as this is called memento mori, a reminder of death. This is because the hair is probably from a departed loved one.

Such ‘hairwork’ was a popular craft and pastime in 18th and 19th century Europe. Women in Victorian Britain were permitted to wear hairwork jewellery in the ‘second stage’ of mourning. This began a year and a day after the loved one’s death.

Details

Category:
Wellcome (general)
Object Number:
A642442
Materials:
cotton wool, glass, hair, metal, paper
type:
human remains
taxonomy:
  • human remains
  • furnishing and equipment
  • costume
  • jewellery
  • pin - jewelry
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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