(Singular nouns: Fr-cheveu / poil; Ger-Haar;
A. Hair. "Prince of Wales" brooch
(diameter ~ 63 cm) fashioned by Sandra Johnson exemplifies the
appearance of pins featuring human hair; these brooches were
especially popular during Queen Victoria's reign.
(© photo courtesy Sandra Johnson, from htt://victorianhairjewelry.com/victorianhairart.html)
DESCRIPTION: Hair consists chiefly
keratin. With a few exceptions, the hair dealt with in this entry
is head hair -- not
blonde, brunette, red, black, gray, white; (dyed/tinted/...)
whatever, including combinations, patterns, etc.
H. & S.G. of no consequence here
Light transmission -
semitransparent to semitranslucent
Luster - dull to subvitreous
Breakage - irregular to
NAMES: None other than
colloquial use of such terms as mop.
the late 1800s, especially in Victorian England, jewelry that included
human hair was relatively
commonplace. Lockets, brooches and pendants with or without
designs and glass "windows" were the typical pieces (see Figure
finger rings featuring
hair, though not common, were also made. Today, similar pieces
still custom made (Johnson, 1998-2005). See also the third
paragraph under the Remarks subheading.
contrast to fur, of several animals has been used in making decorative
as well as functional fabrics used
in such things as pillow and cushion covers and handbags.
Examples of animals from which
hair has been so-used include the following: alpacas, bison, several
dogs (ranging from malamutes to poodles), elephants, horses, llamas, mice and
well as sheep. Two examples are 1. "Buffalo hair or wool is
for many things, including
making rope. The wool is spun and braided to make a stretchy and strong
rope. The beard ... was used for tipi decorations. The tail could be
used as a fly switch, a small whip, water sprinkler or decoration on a
tipi cover lifting pole." (NPS, nd). [and] 2. Elephant hair,
which grows at the end of elephants' tails, has been made into rings
bracelets sold in tourist shops in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Combined with gold or ivory, these "hairlooms" (my term) are even available
"up-market" jewelry shops. Among other things, these pieces are
supposed to ensure good health and protection from evil spirits. (Craig
Gibson, personal communication, 2006)
C. Ivory. Pendant "the only one
of its kind in the world. It is made using Woolly Mammoth hair
and placed atop a piece of ivory
also from a
Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus
primigenius Blumenbach, 1799 ?? -- see discussion under
REMARKS in IVORY entry).
The hair and ivory are approximately 10,000 years old and were
found in Siberia. This was a very special project to make and I
was awestruck that I could be making something from the hair and tusks
of an animal that had roamed the earth 10,000 or more years ago."
(Sandra Johnson, 1998-2005) (© photo courtesy Sandra Johnson, from
Horse hair is the active component of most bows for violins, violas,
'cellos, and double basses, and it is said that the best
for bows is taken from horses in northern climates [e.g., Mongolian
horsehair], since such hair provides more friction." (The Free Dictionary,
Fur, as distinct from hair -- see
REMARKS -- is
used for all sorts of souvenirs as well as for such things as for fur
coats, stoles, etc. An
example "dear to the heart" of our daughter is a tiny seal,
fashioned from seal fur, that was given her by her brother Kurt's
2nd grade teacher when we lived in Norway in the late 1950s.
& NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES: Certainly not my head.
REMARKS: The designation hair
appears to come from Old English hær.
quotation relating to hair is
"Why, but there's many a man hath more hair than wit." (line by
of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors
-- Act 2, Scene 2).
at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are said to
have concluded that
human head hair is different from fur because fur stops
growing after it reaches a certain length whereas head hair continues
to grow. To support their conclusion, they ask in a recent article in
the journal Evolutionary Anthropology
, "Have you ever seen a
getting a haircut?" (Science Daily,
Attention is directed to two bits of information in other
entries: 1. BONE -- See the use of the British Ladies' hair
recorded in the centered quotation given in the REMARKS. 2.
HORN -- Consider the fact that rhinoceros horn is sometimes referred to
as hair: "The horn of the rhinoceros was not really a horn at
all, but a collection of hairs cemented together. It was a mere
male hirsute appendage, like the beard in humans." (Ritchie, 1950,
Bullock (2000), "Hair jewelry, or mourning jewelry was popular from the
time of the
memento mori ('Remember Me')
jewelry of the Middle Ages, and on through
the 16th and the 17th centuries, upward through the 19th
century....¶ The hair itself was used in several styles: woven
as a background under a gold monogram and worn under crystal, and as
such could be made into a brooch or necklace; braided to form watch
chains or around a ring bezel, made into a floral funeral design, or
simply a lock of the hair was enclosed in a locket or
brooch." Perhaps the most widely known example is the
"Guevara Lock of Beethoven's hair," about which the following is
recorded: "The original provenance of the lock of hair is clear from an
inscription written on the back of the frame of the locket: 'This hair
was cut off of Beethoven's corpse by my father, Dr. Ferdinand v.
Hiller, on the day after Ludwig van Beethoven's death, that is, on 27
March 1827 ... Ferdinand Hiller was a
German conductor and teacher who traveled to Vienna in 1827 at the age
of fifteen to visit the dying Beethoven on his death bed. ... The lock
hair stayed in the Hiller family until sometime in the 20th century. It
next surfaced in 1943 when it was given to a Danish doctor named Kay
Alexander Fremming as payment for providing medical treatment for Jews
trying to escape from the Nazis. The lock of hair stayed in the
Fremming family until it was sold at auction at Sotheby's in December
1994." (The Ira F. Brilliant
Center...,2006) Subsequently, analyses showed "that the average
amount of lead in the Beethoven hair had been forty-two times the lead average
contained in the controls [normal hair]" (Martin, 2000, p. 235), which
led to the conclusions/hypotheses
that lead poisoning probably accounted for
several of Beethoven's idiosyncrasies and perhaps even his deafness.
-- One wonders what connection may have existed between
the Beethoven hair investigations and the fact that Nobel
Laureate-to-be Kary B. Mullis, when interviewed
for Omni magazine in 1992, suggested he might
start a DNA jewelry company, using the polymerase chain reaction
(PCR) to amplify the DNA of famous long-dead people. AND,
consider this in light of the fact
are offering a high-tech version (albeit usually consisting of buccal
swabs rather than hair) of the Victorian locket containing a
curl of hair from a loved one. (National Centre for Biotech..., 2006).
which is rock, must not be confused as animal hair. See Figure 56
and related text in the MIMETOLITH file on this web site.
far as I have been able to determine for its use in jewelry.
graphite fiber is used as a substitute for horse hair in some bows for
violins etc. - [Macroscopic
observation usually suffices.].
*** Modacrylic fiber (a
synthetic copolymer) -- the one widely known as Kanekalon (for the
manufacturer) is used for the "hair" of of some
wigs. It and other synthetics are used for the hair on most
observation usually suffices.].
REPLICAS: Perhaps the second
item under SIMULANTS belongs here?!
Dietrich © 2015
Last update: 28 February 2010
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