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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.

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Glossary: human hair

used to define human remains as part of the NMSI/SMG human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human remains'

Glossary: brooch

No description.

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.