Although usually viewed as something ordinary, functional and familiar,
a second glance at a hairnet reveals an object of beauty and weirdness.
The webs of hairnets are delicate pathways capable of securing and unraveling in equal measure, designed to serve the often opposite desires of freedom and control.
Hairnets have been found in grave sites and archaeological digs dating from the 13th century onwards. The nets used to make these digital photograms were made from real human hair in the 1920s to 50s. They are delicate and often hand woven.
The fact that these were made from real human hair sets up all kinds of musings. Whose hair? Who knotted the net? Hair has always been a curiously emotive thing. It never dies, and cuttings of it have always been treasured as keepsakes. The Victorians in England perfected this with production of hair lockets and memento mori. Yet far from being treasured as relics, these hair nets were often discarded only to be discovered decades later in the bottom of someone's dresser drawer.
— Elaine Duigenan
Editor's Note: See an earlier series by Elaine Duigenan called Nylons.
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