Hair Pin

1840-1867 (made)
Hair Pin thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Hair pins were the sign of a respectable married woman in Italy. They were first worn at the wedding, and after that on feast days and special occasions. Only the unmarried and prostitutes wore their hair loose.

Hair pins were worn throughout the country, but the most numerous and interesting come from the north. They were usually worn at the back of the head, piercing and securing the thick braids of hair. They were inserted diagonally or horizontally, so that the decorative heads stuck out at the side of the face. The number of pins worn varied by district. In some places they were worn all round the head, like a fan, but the largest were usually worn singly or in pairs.

This hairpin is called ‘spada’ in Italian, meaning a sword, but the same name was also used for any hair pin with a flat stem, regardless of the shape of the top. The use of a sword as the top probably has amuletic significance. Sword pins like this are typical of the Lazio region.

It was bought as part of the Castellani collection of Italian Peasant Jewellery at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1867.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver, partly gilded, with cast and engraved decoration
Brief Description
Silver, partly gilded, hair pin (spada) shaped like a sword, Lazio (Italy), 1840-1867.
Physical Description
Hair pin in the shape of a sword, with flat stem tapering to a point, and decorative head with gilt quillons and arabesque guard decorated with faceted imitation stones. The whole hilt is cast on the front, and flat on the back, with an engraved design.
Dimensions
  • Length: 20.5cm
  • Width: 3.0cm
  • Depth: 0.5cm
Subject depicted
Summary
Hair pins were the sign of a respectable married woman in Italy. They were first worn at the wedding, and after that on feast days and special occasions. Only the unmarried and prostitutes wore their hair loose.



Hair pins were worn throughout the country, but the most numerous and interesting come from the north. They were usually worn at the back of the head, piercing and securing the thick braids of hair. They were inserted diagonally or horizontally, so that the decorative heads stuck out at the side of the face. The number of pins worn varied by district. In some places they were worn all round the head, like a fan, but the largest were usually worn singly or in pairs.



This hairpin is called ‘spada’ in Italian, meaning a sword, but the same name was also used for any hair pin with a flat stem, regardless of the shape of the top. The use of a sword as the top probably has amuletic significance. Sword pins like this are typical of the Lazio region.



It was bought as part of the Castellani collection of Italian Peasant Jewellery at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1867.
Bibliographic Reference
'Italian Jewellery as worn by the Peasants of Italy', Arundel Society, London, 1868, Plate 8 'The Paris Universal Exhibition, 1867', published by The Art Journal, London, 1868, p.325
Collection
Accession Number
181-1868

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdFebruary 8, 2008
Record URL