Hair combs and their social and symbolic significance in Early Modern Portugal

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The aim of this paper is to present and discuss the meaning and use of hair combs in Early Modern Portugal (16th–18th centuries), having as a case study the objects found in the convent of São Francisco located in Castelo de Vide, in Portugal. These artefacts were used as a public demonstration of cultural and personal wealth, taste, and could possess apotropaic characteristics. They mark the desire to communicate social status, accumulated monetary wealth, faith, social beliefs, prophylactic functions, and it is also possible to understand their diachronic significance in their extended use through time. The combs were made using different raw materials, though the ones presented here are tortoiseshell. They exhibited the use of elements of European taste but were manufactured from exogenous materials, courtesy of Portuguese overseas endeavours, and affected by accompanying transformations in tastes and fashion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalPost-Medieval Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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