Saturday, May 19, 2012

Time for another hairstyle showcase...

Warmer weathers bring out the early period in many a Scadian, and having a Roman persona means I'm pushing heavily for chitons and tunicas.  Last year at An Tir/West War, I craftily managed to instigate a Roman day.  Since Idonia was going to be up in Court on our Roman Day, I pushed her to have a fancy hairstyle.  After all that meant her hair would be seen by probably a dozen sets of sitting royalty.

Portrait of Plautilla
 This is a hairstyle seen on Plautilla, unwanted wife of Emperor Caracalla, who married him in 202 AD.  I first came across this bust, which is housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum, in Janet Stephens paper, Ancient Roman hairdressing: on (hair)pins and needles.  She gives step by step instructions on how she recreates the style, and it's relatively simple.

Idonia's hair is about waist length, but this style can be done with hair that is slightly shorter, at least mid back length.

Stephens calls this style the 100-strand braid, due to the woven look of the finished style.  It begins by parting the hair vertically from brow to nape, then sectioning a small portion along the center, french braiding that narrow section and finishing the braid to the tips.  The portions of hair on either side of that narrow braid are parted into four vertical sections on either side of the narrow braid, for a total of eight sections.  It is easiest to part the sections as you'll be using them, instead of all at once.  Each section will be twisted instead of braided against the scalp, and once it reaches the nape, separate into a three strand braid.  For symmetry's sake, I twisted strands toward center, so sections on her left were twisted to the right, and sections on the right were twisted left.  Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of doing the scalp portions, maybe in the future.

After all the sections are braided, the nine braids are sewn together to form a flat panel.  I did this with a tapestry needle and cotton weaving thread, but historically it would be done with large bone needles and woolen thread.  Once all the braids are sewn together the panel is folded up, the tips are tucked in, and the top of the panel is sewn to the top of the french braided section.  The passes of the french braid prevent the panel from weighing down the hair on the scalp and sliding down, as they would have if the panel was sewn to a twisted section alone.

This style did impress the royals, and because it's sewn together instead of pinned, it's very comfortable to sleep on.  Idonia was in fact stuck in the style until I could get to her the Tuesday after to unsew her.

Hopefully this is helpful to those that are seeking an interesting and unique hairstyle to complete their Roman garb.

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