News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 20, 2012

HISTORICAL TREASURE: Some history wreathed in hair

TERRE HAUTE — From the unfortunate occurrence of Prince Albert’s death in 1861 came the social mores of proper mourning practices and accoutrements witnessed and endorsed by the admirers of Queen Victoria in her reign-long state of grieving. The propensity and outright requirement of widows of the Victorian Era to don black dresses and year-long weeping veils became earnest practices. While the art of hair weaving certainly had its beginning centuries before, the period saw a flourishing of the art. The Paris Exposition in 1855 boasted a life-sized portrait of Queen Victoria comprised entirely of human hair.

To compensate for a rather strict dress code (Victorians are well-publicized for their balance of prudishness and macabre sensibilities), mourning jewelry made of hair and braided into fine, filigree-like designs were deemed appropriate attire for those in prolonged states of grieving. These also provided an intimate relic or bond with loved ones living or deceased. Shadow-boxed hair wreaths, like the one displayed in the Museum’s upper-level, Victorian parlor, were commonly oriented in an upright horseshoe pattern to allow for a family’s growth through the years as members’ hair was collected and added to the design. The Museum’s example includes what appears to be a silk cross upon which a hair-woven rose is placed. It was created by Alma Louisa Denny and donated to the museum by her niece, Bertha Phillips Reeder. Clearly Reeder appreciated her aunt’s painstaking effort and was kind enough to share with us. Whether this was in remembrance of a family member is uncertain, but the dedication many of the artists used in creating these intricate pieces was due in part to the close bond with the loved ones memorialized. Many chose to learn and continue the practice rather than outsource the creation to service-providers for fear that bulk hair, not the hair of their loved ones, would be used.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
World's Tallest Water Slide: See It for Yourself Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Service Held for 200 Whose Bodies Went Unclaimed Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup' Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final Raw: Obama Shoots Pool in Denver APNewsBreak: Different Attackers in Benghazi? Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate "Hotwives" Spoofs Reality TV Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Dodgers Found Partly Responsible in Fan Beating Raw: 10-year Sentence for Ex-New Orleans Mayor Raw: Brazil Fans Cry After World Cup Loss Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family
NDN Video
Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010