Hair braid samples

Paperboard with hair braid samples, Germany, late 19th Century.
Courtesy of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

This box with braided patterns of human hair was added to the collection of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in 1902. These hair plaits, which nowadays seem somewhat strange if not morbid, may have served as models for jewellery. In the Biedermeier period it was common to wear bracelets, rings, earrings or brooches made from the hair of a loved one as a memento or talisman. Hair also plays a central role in the fetish theory of Sigmund Freud.