Sunday, 2 August 2015

Historical haircare: Viking combs

Last Summer we were visiting the British Museum during a week-long tip in London, and seeing as I'm a hair fanatic xD, I always go looking for ancient hair stuff in museums. So here's a Viking comb with its case from the 9th-10th Century AD:

"Combs such as this are commonly found throughout the Viking world. (...) Both comb and case are made of several pieces of antler fitted together with iron rivets. Decoration on the comb is the same on both sides. It has very little ornament, other than simple cross-hatching in rectangular areas, which are confined to the ends. The case is decorated with irregular crosses of double lines. Below this is a similar pattern to that on the comb, but with vertical lines instead of cross-hatching. Comb decoration can be more elaborate: some were inlaid with bronze. This suggests that all ranks of society owned and used them. The simple decoration on this comb set implies that it probably belonged to someone of middle rank.

Both men and women wore their hair long in the Viking period. Combs probably acted as implements for removing lice as much as for making the hair look beautiful.

Like many smaller combs, this comb and case have holes in them for hanging from a belt or brooch. Comb cases were made to protect the delicate teeth from being accidentally broken. This seems to have worked here as this comb still has all its teeth. This is very rare." (Source)

I ended up reading a bit more on the use of combs and general haircare among the Vikings :)

More Viking/Scandinavian combs from the Scotland National Museum at Edinburgh:
Could those pins be hairsticks?

SwordWomanRiona /

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  1. Very interesting. I'm always in awe of ANYTHING 100 years old, let alone 1000 years old!

    1. Glad you liked it! I love reading about ancient haircare :) (and about ancient stuff in general, to tell the truth :D)