Extraordinary Image

When & Where Did The Hairpin Originate?

Extraordinary ImageHairpin: 10,000 years ago, Asia

A bodkin, a long ornamental straight pin, was used by Greek and Roman women to fasten their hair. In shape and function it exactly reproduced the slender animals spines and thistle thorns used by earlier men and women and by many primitive tribes today. Ancient Asian burial sites have yielded scores of hairpins of bone, iron, bronze, silver, and gold. Many are plain, others ornately decorated, but they all clearly reveal that the hairpin’s shape has gone unchanged for ten thousand years.

Cleopatra preferred ivory hairpins, seven to eight inches long and studded with jewels. The Romans hollowed out their hairpins to conceal poison. The design was similar to that of the pin Cleopatra is reputed to have used in poisoning herself.

The straight hairpin became the U-shaped bobby pin over a period of two centuries.

Wig fashion at the seventeenth-century French court necessitated that a person’s real hair be either clipped short of pinned tightly to the head. Thus “bobbed,” it facilitated slipping on a wig as well as maintaining a groomed appearance once the wig was removed. Both large straight pins and U-shaped hairpins were then called “bobbing pins.” When small, two-pronged pins made of tempered steel wire and lacquered black began to be mass-produced in the nineteenth-century, they made straight hairpins virtually obsolete and monopolized the name bobby pin.