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Ancient Egyptian Children's Hair Styles


Figure 1.--Ancient Egypt finds us the first detailed look at children's clothing and hair styles. Here we see the child of a New Kingsom (18th Dynasty) official depicted on a tomb painting. Notice the characteristic forelock. The archivist describes the child as a daughter, but we are unsure just how one tells. The forelock seems larger than some we have seen for boys. The full painting depicts a family hunting expedition in the marshes. Source: British Museum..

Most of what we known from how Egyptian children wore their hair is based on sculptures and tomb paintings. The tomb paintings are important because these are the Egyptian paintings most likely to have survived. There is virtually no written information about childrens's hair styles. Thus information must be deduced from studying the paintings. Fortunately several are very detailed and realistic. We do not yet have enough information to know how styles changed over time. We note Old Kingsom scupltures that provide some information. One family sculpture shows a hair lock, but not shaved heads. A stand-alone boy shows an unshaved head and no hair lock. Children are often depicted in New Kingdom paintings with shaved heads and a side lock on the right side of the head. I am not sure if there were gender difference here. This style may be the origin of the side lock worn by Hasidic Jewish children. Egyptian mothers often braided these side locks. There are many depictions of Egyptian children standing naked by their parents, sucking their right index finger (not their thumb), and with a sidelock. [Springer] Girls might wear amaulets in their hair. Young girls wore amaulets in their sidelocks. Older girls after puberty wore long hair. Hair styles in a society where people wore little clothes can be used to identify foreigners in Egyptian art.

Sources

Springer, Ilene. "A Kid in Ancient Egypt," Tour Egypt Monthly (December 1, 2000).





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Created: 10:15 PM 10/3/2008
Last updated: 10:15 PM 10/3/2008