Hair accessories are ornamental or functional objects tied, wrapped, inserted, twisted, or otherwise attached to the hair. Throughout history, types of ornamentation and the materials from which they were made specified religious connotations, age group, social class, and level of fashion consciousness. Considerably varied in sizes, shapes, and materials, instances of hair accessories include: bands or hair rings, bows and ribbons, hair combs, hairpins, beads, barrettes, thread or string, sticks and hair spikes, and other affixed miscellaneous objects (jewels, shells, flowers, coins, feathers) apparent to have social or aesthetic and cultural value. Hair accessories have been worn by people of all ages and by both sexes.
Hair bands and hair rings are cylindrically formed hair accessories wound around the hair, intended to hold hair away from the face, or otherwise limit strands of hair. Some of the earliest hair rings were found in Great Britain, Belgium, and France at the end of the Bronze Age. These objects were solid gold or gold-plated clay, lead, or bronze. Ancient Egyptians wore similar rings during the New Kingdom Dynasties. Examples have been found in Egyptian tombs. Worn in wigs rather than hair, these hair rings were made of alabaster, jasper, or white glazed pottery, and were a sign of social position or authority.
In North America, hair binders were made of flexible materials such as silk or cotton covering lead wire. In the 20th century, the use of rubber and other manufactured elastomeric fibres made hair rings more flexible. They were covered with fibres or thread to make them less likely to break strands of hair. ‘Scrunchies’ were some of the most popular hair bands during the 1980s. These fabric-covered elastic ornamental bands were used to make ponytails in the hair of young girls and women.
Ribbons and bows are narrow fabric strips of closely woven yarns or braid knotted and wrapped around the hair, also used to bind the hair. They were particularly popular during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe. In the 1600s in France, ribbons were worn by women of all ages, from young girls to senior dowager duchesses, and were precisely chosen to colour synchronise with their dresses. Fashionable men also adorned their long locks with ribbons and bows. A ‘love lock’ was a lock of a man’s hair grown longer than the rest, and then emphasised with a ribbon. During the 1700s in England and France, both a man’s line and women’s elaborate coiffures were decorated with bows and ribbons. In Mexico in the early 2000s, women in Venustiano Carranza and San Pablito inter-twine their hair with dazzlingly coloured rayon ribbons, woollen cords with beading and pom-poms, and hand-woven tapes.
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