Hair Accessories

Hair accessories are functional or ornamental objects wrapped, tied, twisted, inserted, or otherwise attached to the hair. Throughout history, types of ornamentation and the materials from which they were made indicated religious significance, social class, age group, and level of fashion awareness. Infinitely varied in shapes, sizes, and materials, examples of hair accessories include: hair rings or bands, ribbons and bows, hairpins, hair combs, barrettes, beads, thread or string, hair spikes and sticks, and other affixed miscellaneous objects (shells, jewels, coins, flowers, feathers) perceived to have aesthetic or social and cultural value. Hair accessories have been worn by people of all ages and by both genders. Hair rings and hair bands are cylindrically shaped hair accessories wound around the hair, designed to hold hair away from the face, or otherwise confine strands of hair. Some of the earliest hair rings were found in Great Britain, France, and Belgium at the end of the Bronze Age. These objects were solid gold or gold-plated clay, bronze, or lead. Ancient Egyptians wore similar rings during the New Kingdom Dynasties 18–20. Examples have been found in Egyptian tombs. Worn in wigs rather than hair, these hair rings were made of alabaster, white glazed pottery, or jasper, and were a sign of social ranking or authority (Antiquity 1997). In North America, hair binders were made of pliable materials such as silk or cotton covering lead wire (Cox 1966). In the twentieth century, the use of rubber and other manufactured elastomeric fibers made hair rings (now called hair bands or ponytail holders) more flexible. They were covered with thread or fibers to make them less likely to break strands of hair.

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