Lock of hair

Lock of hair

A lock of hair is a piece or pieces of hair that has been cut from, or remains singly on, a human head, most commonly bunched or tied together in some way. A standard dictionary definition defines a lock as a tress, curl, or ringlet of hair (dictionary.com).

Locks of hair carry symbolic value and have been utilized throughout history in various religious, superstitions, and sentimental roles.

*A primitive belief maintains that owning a lock of hair from another’s head gives one power over that individual, in the same manner that owning a piece of clothing or image of an individual grants the owner such powers.
*During antiquity, Roman girls who were about to be married offered locks of hair to Jove (Jupiter) in his forest god aspect, Virbius (Virbio).
*An ancient and worldwide (eg. China, Egypt, Thailand, Albania, Ukraine, India, Israel, etc) pre-adolescent custom was to shave children's heads but leave a lock of hair (sometimes several locks) remaining on their heads. Upon reaching adulthood the lock of hair was usually cut off (see rites of passage).
*The scalplock was a lock of hair kept throughout a man's life. Like the childhood locks mentioned above, the scalplock was also a worldwide phenomenon, particularly noted amongst eastern woodland Indians (see Iroquois, Huron, Mahican, Mohawk) in north America (see also scalping and mohawk hairstyle).
Sviatoslav I of Kiev was reported to have worn a scalp lock by Leo the Deacon, a Byzantine historian . Later Ukrainian Cossacks (Zaporozhians) sported scalplocks called oseledets or khokhol. In India this custom remains active but usually only amongst orthodox Hindus. See sikha. In Mark Twain's travel book 'The Innocents Abroad', he describes Moroccan men sporting scalp locks.
*A common superstition holds that a lock of hair from a baby's first haircut should be kept for good luck. An old Irish superstition holds that it is unlucky to accept a lock of hair (or a four-footed beast) from a lover.
*A lock of Beethoven’s hair, cut from his head in 1827, was auctioned in 1994 through Sotheby's of London. [http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/001103/hair.shtml] Research on the hair determined that the composer's life-long illness was caused by lead poisoning.
*A Polish plait (Koltun in Polish, meaning 'Elf-Lock') is a lock of matted hair similar to a dreadlock. Due to a scalp disease (Plica polonica), King Christian IV of Denmark (1577–1648) had a Polish plait hanging from the left side of his head, adorned with a red ribbon. His courtiers were said to have adopted the hairstyle in order to flatter the king. Due to superstitious beliefs, the Polish plait used to be particularly common in Poland (hence its name). Initially, the plait was treated as an amulet, supposed to bring good health, as the plait was supposed to take the illness "out" of the body, and therefore it was rarely cut off.


*"The Golden Bough" by James Frazer - Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-14-018931-5
*"The Innocents Abroad" by Mark Twain - Signet Classic, ISBN 1-85532-848-8
*"Armies of Medieval Russia 750-1250" by David Nicolle - Osprey Publishing, ISBN 0-451-52502-7
*"Daily Life in Ancient India From 200 BC to 700 AD" by Jeannine Auboyer - Phoenix Press, ISBN 1-84212-591-5
*"The Cossacks" by John Ure - The Overlook Press, ISBN 1-58567-138-x
*en icon [http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/dailylife/hairstyles.html Ancient Egyptian Hairstyles]
*en icon [http://www.cossacks.kiev.ua/cossacks-land.htm Ukrainian Cossack Display Group]
*en icon [http://www.csicop.org/superstition/library/common.html Common Superstitions]
*en icon [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ali/ali153.htm Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland]

ee also

* Dreadlocks, commonly called "locks" or "dreads".
* Goldilocks, a nursery rhyme character so named due to her golden hair

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • lock of hair — n. curl of hair …   English contemporary dictionary

  • (a) lock of hair — a lock of hair phrase a small piece of hair from someone’s head She cut off a lock of his hair and put it under her pillow. Thesaurus: general words for hair and amounts of hairhyponym Main entry: lock …   Useful english dictionary

  • a lock of hair — a small piece of hair from someone s head She cut off a lock of his hair and put it under her pillow …   English dictionary

  • Lock — may refer to:* Lock (surname)Mechanical devices* Lock (device), a mechanical device used to secure possessions * Lock (firearm), the ignition mechanism used on early projectile weapons * Lock (water transport), an enclosure in a navigable canal… …   Wikipedia

  • hair — W1S1 [heə US her] n [: Old English; Origin: hAr] 1.) [U] the mass of things like fine threads that grows on your head ▪ She put on her lipstick and brushed her hair . ▪ I must get my hair cut it s getting very long. ▪ You ve had your hair done… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Hair jewellery — Hair work, or jewellery made of human hair, was in fashion during most of the 19th century and a few decades into the 20th. It disappeared when short skirts and the bob became stylish around 1925. There are several reasons why hair work was… …   Wikipedia

  • lock|et — «LOK iht», noun. a small, ornamental case of gold or silver, for holding a picture of someone or a lock of hair. It is usually worn around the neck on a chain. A locket often has a hinged cover. ╂[< Old French locquet latch (diminutive) <… …   Useful english dictionary

  • lock — lock1 [ lak ] verb *** 1. ) transitive to fasten something such as a door or a container, usually with a key, so that other people cannot open it: John went out and locked the door behind him. Have you locked the car? lock something in something …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • lock — lock1 W3S2 [lɔk US la:k] v ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(fasten something)¦ 2¦(keep in a safe place)¦ 3¦(fixed position)¦ 4¦(fixed situation)¦ 5 be locked in battle/combat/dispute etc 6 lock arms 7 lock horns (with somebody) Phrasal verbs  lock… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • lock — 1 verb 1 FASTEN SOMETHING (I, T) to fasten something with a lock or be fastened with a lock: Did you lock the car? I can t get the door to lock. 2 PUT STH IN A SAFE PLACE (transitive always + adv/prep) to put something in a safe place and lock… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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