Mourning Hair Wreath
ca. 1850 - 1900
human hair, string, wire, wood
Gift of Estate of Gladys Connell Jermyn, 51.272

During the Victorian era, the custom of making art from hair became popular as a form of artistic memorial. It was used in jewelry, love tokens and hair wreathes, the latter of which could encompass hair from the members of one’s church, school, and family.

To make a hair wreath, hair was collected from the deceased, formed into a shape (usually a flower), and added to a horseshoe-shaped wreath. The top was not connected and remained open to symbolize the ascent heavenward. Usually, the hair in the center of the wreath belonged to the most recently deceased family member; it would remain until another family member died, then be pushed aside to make room for the hair of the newly deceased.