3/30/2008

Hair-do of the week - A Flavian Lady


Portrait bust of a Flavian Lady, circa 90 A.D. - Marble, Roman.
Now on display at the Museo Capitolini, Rome.

Few portraits can so clearly reveal the time and effort Romans could put into such a simple thing as a hair-do - or more exactly it shows that putting a lot of effort into a hair-do is not a new thing. This is of course done for a lady that was not supposed to work with her hair done like this. It is also just as obvious that she was a member of the utmost top of society, where money, slaves and time was not an issue. Who she was more exactly is not known, though.

One of the most striking things with this hair-do is how different it looks from front and back, it was clearly not done to be viewed from just one angle (nor was the bust). The hair was divided and the front of the hair was shaped into long curls that weren't allowed to hang down in a fringe but were built up into a towering creation above the face that makes the head almost twice as high. The back of the head is covered in long braids, that shows very clearly just how long this hair must have been to successfully create this coiffure. These braids were long and slim and many, and curled up at the back of the head so it almost looks like a bird's nest. The ends of these braids were then tucked into the back of the hair to create this almost circular formation.

In short, nothing you put together by yourself when you were in a hurry - but then again it was the hair-do chosen for a portrait in marble, a very enduring material and it is today one of the most famous women portraits from the first century A.D. Choosing a spectacular hair-do was obviously a good choice.

(The first picture is borrowed from here)

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