Brooch containing human hair, Europe, 1701-1900
Human hair is contained in this gold brooch. The jewellery is encased in a gold frame and on a pearly background. Such ‘hairwork’ was a craft often associated with mourning in Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. This is because much jewellery contained intricately moulded locks of hair from a departed loved one. The brooch was also a memento mori. These objects remind the living of both the dead and the fragility of life. 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.
Related Themes and Topics
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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.