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The cave of hair in Avanos, Turkey. Image from

In Avanos, Turkey there is a museum where the walls are covered in hair. Human hair. The story goes that local potter was so upset by his dear friend leaving the town, that he asked her for something to remember her buy. So she cut off a lock of her hair and gave it to him. The unhappy potter then displayed this hair in his shop and told the story to everyone who came through the town. Some of the women who heard this story were so moved that they cut off some of their own hair and added it too the collection. In 1979 a selection of these exhibits were put on display and it was this that started it up as a museum rather than a private collection. There are now over 16,000 samples, and every female visitor is invited to contribute her own offering. Scissors are provided.

Not that this is the world’s only hair museum: Leila’s Hair Museum in Missouri contains a huge collection of wreaths and jewellery, all made from human hair. She also offers classes, where you can learn this lost art form. There are over 35 different techniques for using human hair, one of which may be quite surprising! Sepia, known to us all from descriptions of old photos, apparently comes from an old technique of grinding hair into a pigment, which is then used to paint.

Hair jewellery was incredibly popular in Victorian times, and the museum even contains pieces made using the hair of Queen Victoria. But it can be traced much further back, to the reliquaries of ancient saints. A good deal of this hair comes from young girls, with jewellery and embroidery from hair often given to their lovers. But hair was also kept as a remembrance, and many of the pieces contain hair from entire families.

So what do you think, is it romantic or creepy? Would you visit the museum, or even add a lock of your own hair to the walls? What is today’s equivalent to the romantic devotion expressed in a handkerchief carefully embroidered with the recipients initials with the gifters own hair? Swapping social media passwords perhaps? Or setting up joint bank accounts?

-Claire Parker
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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