Recreating Veils and Hairstyles of the Middle Ages: 14th Century Italian Hair Styles

When looking at images of 14th Century Italian hairstyles a couple of styles are definitely more prevalent, hair that is braided or wrapped with ribbons or cloth and then wrapped around the head. While the hair wrapped with ribbons or cloth can be held in place by wrapping the long ends of the ribbon around the head and tying them at the base of the neck, the braids would most likely be held in place by either hair pins or sewing.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti - Allegory of Good Government - Good Goverment - Detail 1338-40 Fresco Palazzo Publico, Siena, Italy web

This image from Siena, Italy circa 1338-40 shows both braided and wrapped styles.

BLR - 6 E IX - Regia Carmina - f 13r

ca 1335-1340 Tuscany, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two images from the early 14th century show the both the braided and wrapped styles, I especially like the image on the right with the braids apparently first wrapped into a bun and then wrapped around the head. This style also has a veil of very sheer silk pinned into the braids that also wraps over the face. I only wish my own hair was thick enough and long enough to do this style.

Fresco painting in Torre dell'Aquila, January, c1400

Fresco painting in Torre dell’Aquila, January, c1400

Mary Enthroned with the Child, Saints, and a Donor, Fabriano, c1400, Italy

Mary Enthroned with the Child, Saints, and a Donor, Fabriano, c1400, Italy

These two later 14th century images both show the hair wrapped around the head. The image on the right shows the braided style from before and the image on the right appears to be just the hair without wrapping or braiding. How this would be secured to the hair I do not know, so I suspect there may be some artistic interpretation in the image, another possibility is that it could be a false hair piece.

Adoration of the Magi, Gentile da Fabriano, c1370-1427, Italy

Adoration of the Magi, Gentile da Fabriano, c1370-1427, Italy

False braid made from padded cloth tubes, 15th-16th C, Kempten, Germany (Allgauer Landesmuseum, Kempten)

False braid made from padded cloth tubes, 15th-16th C, Kempten, Germany (Allgauer Landesmuseum, Kempten)

This image on the left appears to show a false hair piece that has been braided. There appears to be a black cap or head band under the braids and they also appear to have been wrapped in a very sheer fabric. This image puzzled me for a while until I came across the image on the right from the Allgauer Landesmuseum from Kempten Germany which shows a false braid made from a sheer fabric tubes stuffed with wool. This design makes much more sense than trying to evenly wrap sheer cloth around each of the three strands of hair needed for the braid and then braiding it and then hoping it will not be too stiff to wrap around the head. While the false braids are from a century later and another country I feel that they are still the best answer to what is happening with the woman’s hair.

Additionally, in the image on the left, the woman on the left is one of the rare images that I have seen with a woman wearing either a veil or a headscarf. The image below and the image from 1335 both show veils being worn, in the case of the image below, the veil appears to have a wide band along the front edge and the woman’s hair appears to be braided and coiled instead of wrapped around the head.

BNF Nouvelle acquisition française 5243 Guiron le Courtois - 1370-1380 Italy

c. 1370-1380

1350-1375 Affresco San lucchese, Poggibonsi (Bartolo di Fredi), San Nicola di Bari con le tre fanciulle, San Lucchese.

Women wearing caps while sleeping.

1395 ca, Spinello Aretino, Gênes, collection particulière, Courtault Institute of Art

Women wearing caps while working.

Another unusual style in Italy that is more common in Northern and Western Europe is the small white cap that is commonly referred to as a St. Birgitta’s Cap. While the cap is not common in Italian imagery it is seen occasionally on women that are sleeping or doing labor as you can see by the images to the left. For directions on how to make your own St. Birgitta’s Cap see the following link.

https://clothingthepast.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/how-to-make-a-st-birgitta-coifcap/

Below are some images of my interpretations of some of these hair styles. A friend of mine that has longer hair than I was kind enough to be my hair model and pose for the pictures. While you do not have to have extremely long hair, mine is waist length, it is easier to take pictures of what you are doing when doing it on someone else!

Italian wrapped hair image 1

Tie the ribbon at the top of a ponytail and start wrapping around the length of the hair.

 

Italian wrapped hair image 2

Finish wrapping the ribbon around the hair and tie it off near the base.

Italian wrapped hair image 3 web

Once you have wrapped the ribbon around both ponytails wrap the hair around the head and continue wrapping your ribbon ends so that they tie together at the base of the neck. Also, use a few hair pins to hold the hair in place if needed.

Italian wrapped hair image 4 web

Finished look, I usually try to get the style placed a little further forward on the head

Italian wrapped hair image 5

The braided style can be achieved by doing two braids from the nape of the neck and then wrapping them around the head placed somewhat forward. Use a few hair pins to hold the style in place and you are ready to go! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun trying these styles! 🙂

Eventually I will try to do this for some other countries and centuries too! 🙂

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One thought on “Recreating Veils and Hairstyles of the Middle Ages: 14th Century Italian Hair Styles

  1. Pingback: Adventures in Hair Taping « Research Dumping Grounds

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