Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hairwork Plaques

Larger, upwards of fifteen centimeters, hairwork plaques were also produced in the nineteenth century as cabinet pieces. The plaque below houses three different colors of hair arranged into a spray of curls, feathers, and a pansy symbolic of “think-of-me” in the language of flowers.

This is one of my favorite pieces of sentimental jewelry from my personal collection. The temple of love constructed entirely from human hair contains the inscription “la tendresse nous unit” or “tenderness units us.” The dog symbolizes fidelity. Atop the altar, the five hearts metonymically represent five actual individuals, who are crowned by two birds symbolizing love and intimacy. The evergreens symbolize constancy, and the pansy, a common symbol in sentimental art, means “think of me.” These symbols unite to form an allegory emphasizing the pledge of a family and/or friends to remain tenderly devoted to each other – a pledge both embodied and reified by a class-marking artifact.


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