14th – 15th Century Italian Hair Kit

I’ve begun to compile my own hair kit for 14th and 15th-century rievocazione. I have:

  • a sandalwood comb,
  • an ivory stylus,
  • a bone bodkin,
  • false and real hair (both braided and twisted as found in London as discussed in Dress Accessories 1150-1450),
  • decorated metal cased mirror of polished brass,
  • wool yarn,
  • veil pins,
  • several hairpins both plain and decorative (as discussed in Dress Accessories 1150-1450),
  • ribbon for wrapping braids,
  • and a silk woven band for a filet (based on a London finds as discussed in Dress Accessories 1150-1450).



Here are some of the sources I used to compile this kit. I was inspired by finds from excavations, and the marvelous work of a few reenactors in Europe and the US – their links are at the bottom of this page. 


Comb, usually double-sided and carved, made of wood or ivory. Examples:



ivory one sided comb va museum lovers in a garden 1500

Stylus/ Gravior, a hair parting implement (If not possible to find, use a bone bodkin). Examples:




Below is an ivory gravoir with a figure at its top, made in North Italy in the late fourteenth century.

The gravoir, also described as a broche or discernibulum in medieval documents, was used to part the hair and in some cases was worn as a large hairpin.

In the period between 1300 and 1325 workshops in Paris enjoyed a thriving market for secular ivory carvings. They produced mirror-cases, combs and gravoirs (hair parters), often selling them as sets in leather dressing cases. Subjects from romance literature appeared frequently, as did the allegorical Siege of the Castle of Love.
Ivory combs, together with mirror cases and gravoirs for parting the hair, formed an essential part of the trousse de toilette or étui (dressing case) of the typical wealthy lady or gentleman in the Gothic period. Considering the original ubiquity of such combs and in comparison with ivory mirror cases, a surprisingly small number survive from the fourteenth century. (V&A Musesum)

hair parter gravior bone 14th centry Veneto

Braids (Trecce): In many period painting we see hair wrapped with ribbons or a veil. A vital component of my kit needs to be braided hair (real and/or false) wrapped with ribbons or a veil to be held in place by tying the ribbon, sewing the hair down with thread, or using hair pins. Examples:

15th C False braid made from padded cloth and wrapped in silk (Allgauer Landesmuseum Kempten)

With ribbon…

Ambrogio Lorenzetti - Allegory of Good Government - Good Goverment - Detail 1338-40 Fresco Palazzo Publico, Siena, Italy web
1340 Siena

With veil…

BLR - 6 E IX - Regia Carmina - f 13r
1340 Tucscany

With a turban…


Mirror, polished brass or silver in an ivory or wooden carved case. Examples:



Mirror case 15th century milan

Wool Yarn, used to hold hair in place by “sewing” it down using the bodkin. You can find wool that is close to your own hair color and spin your own yarn using a drop spindle like the one show below. Examples:

bottom whorl drop spindle

Veil Pins, made of various metals and used to secure your veil or attach a pendant to your hat. The metal is determined by your socioeconomic status. Steel, brass, silver, copper, and gold were used for veil pins prior to the 17th century. Pins should be 1.5-2.5 inches long. Examples:




Veil pins replica

Hair Pins, made of various metals, with and without decoration or pearls. Examples:


Neulakko hairpins from London
Hair Pins made by Mistress Neulakko based on London finds

Box to hold it all in. Bentwood boxes and painted rectangular boxes were popular:



Bentwood box with figure 15th century florence

cerruti pharmacy tacuinum 2644 wien

Forzerino boxes like this one were also beautiful and popular:




More images of filet and veil combinations with hairstyles!

The following images were compiled by Neulakko:

A Book of Hours (14th century), Roman de la Rose (MS 1126-1127, 1325-1375), Parfait du Pain (BNF Fr. 12565, mid 14th-century)hair filet luttrell psalter

The following image is from Edyth Miller, the “Compleatly Dressed Anachronist”:


One of the easiest styles for the 15th-century is the trinzale/coazzone like the one Violante Bentivoglio Malatesta (Signora of Rimini) wears in the painting. She is in the green gamurra with gold sleeves:

Image result for violante bentivoglio malatesta
Altarpiece of St. Vincent Ferrer; close-up showing Pandolfo IV Malatesta, his mother Elisabetta Aldobrandini, his wife Violante Bentivoglio, and his brother Carlo by Domenico Ghirlandaio and workshop (1493-1496)



Finally, my kits:

  • Quattrocento (14th-century):
    • a sandalwood comb,
    • a bone stylus/gravior that can serve as a bodkin,
    • false hair (twisted as found in London as discussed in Dress Accessories 1150-1450),
    • laces to use for sewing hair in place when necessary,
    • veil pins,
    • several hairpins both plain and decorative (as discussed in Dress Accessories 1150-1450),
    • ribbon for wrapping braids,
    • and a silk woven band for a filet (based on a London finds discussed in Dress Accessories 1150-1450).
  • Cinquecento (15th-century):
    • Coazzone with cream colored hair net as the trinzale/coif,
    • “Juliet” cap,
    • Pearl studded black hair net,
    • decorated metal cased mirror of polished pewter,
    • and longer veil pins













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