Brooch decorated with human hair, Europe, 1701-1900
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.
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Glossary: human hair
used to define human remains as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human remains'
Glossary: memento mori
Symbols intended to remind the viewer of death. Memento mori are often objects such as skulls or hourglasses, but can also be written inscriptions.