Wednesday, 12 April 2017

J = Jewellery jinx



Before moving to the other side of the globe, we sorted through every drawer and shelf  at The Rock, 'rationalising' everything we owned into store, take or chuck.

Tucked into a piece of pink tissue paper inside a floral envelope at the bottom of my dressing table was a small clipping of soft black hair.

'Ewww... What's this? ...Mum, that's disgusting. Chuck it!' declared Miss Almost-17, whose head said dark fluff had once graced. 'Why would you keep that?'
I dunno.
Why would I keep that? Sentimental marking of a milestone, I suppose.

Locks of human hair were once kept to mark the ultimate milestone — death. Victorian mourning brooches, like those pictured here, which enshrine woven or artistically arranged strands of a deceased loved-one's mane, however, are Queen Victoria's fault. 

She didn't invent the practice or decree that any woman failing to wear a piece of her dead husband's hair about her person would be beheaded or anything like that. Mourning jewellery was a thing before her beloved husband Albert died, it's just that in the forty years that she outlived him, Queen Victoria turned grieving the loss of one's nearest and dearest into a fine art. And showing one's loyalty to the monarch was most definitely de rigeur in those days.

According to the bizarrely specific rules for females in mourning, a widow was permitted to begin wearing such jewellery in the second stage of mourning, which began one year and one day after the death of the spouse. Stage two lasted another year.

Queen Victoria wore black clothes and carried jewellery set with Albert's hair next to her heart for the rest of her life.

After reading about these morbid tress mementos, I began to worry about whether it would actually have been better to flip that tissue paper parcel onto the 'chuck' pile.  At the very least, I probably should have chanted some sort of anti-jinx rhyme or crossed my fingers behind my back or stashed it away in the same envelope as the four-leaved clover I found just before my final high school exams. 
But I didn't. 

When I cease to exist and my kids are sifting through the debris of my life, rationalising the contents of my jewellery box into yours, mine and chuck, they will each come upon one of those little parcels of hair. 

I know which pile those sentimental dark wisps will end up on. 
So, perhaps I should have their baby tresses set into gold. Maybe discovering delicately crafted pieces of their own hair would give my children pause to stop and think about how precious they have always been to me.
Or maybe they would just look at each other and exclaim, 'Ewww....Mum. What were you thinking? That's disgusting'.




During the month of April, I am participating in the Blogging from A–Z Challenge.






21 comments:

  1. Definitely set in jewelry. I'm sure by the time they're older, they'll have more wisdom.

    When I was young, I learned about hair flowers (flowers made from hair), but nobody had told me that they were death mementos. So, I raided my hairbrush and made several hair flowers, not realising I was portending my own death (in about eighty years' time).

    Romance Spinners

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    1. OK, well you see I think hair flowers are about as cool as knitting with your cat's fur balls.

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  2. Wow freaky. I saved my kids first locks- when going through my mom's stuff after she died, I found a 24 inch long braid of my moms hair. I think I gave that to my sister!

    My A-Z post The Genealogy Search Continues:
    J is for Jewish Genealogy



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    1. 24 inches would make one large piece of jewellery.
      Thanks for visiting.

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  3. Yikes! This is so spooky! I don't know if I'd ever want to see some dead person's hair again. But preserving baby hair is more sweet!
    The Abbie --- #AtoZChallenge, Crazy Lifestyle Blogger, Potterhead, Middle-earthling, Coffee/Chai Lover, Poetess, & Home Chef, Abbie’s Adventure Diaries

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    1. I'm sure I'm not alone in keeping baby hair, and I hope I haven't traumatised too many other mums by linking the practice to mourning.
      Thanks for stopping to chat. I appreciate that.

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  4. I enjoyed reading this post. Your children sound like mine in Ewwwry sense:)
    I like historical tidbits which disclose a bit about the person wearing the crown. So, thank you.
    Jewellery was what I was contemplating to write about on account of how much I enjoy buying and wearing it, but chose not to in the end.
    J is for JOYN

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. My theme is not to everyone's liking. Hope you're enjoying the challenge.

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  5. My first expression was Whhhhhhhhaaaaaa???????I never knew people save hair..freaky

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    1. Yep... there's a lot of us weirdos out here.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. My mother saved a lock of my hair. No idea what happened to it though. We didn't find it when she died. I didn't think to save any of my kids' locks though. And if I had, they would respond the same way. Ewwww. J is for Journaling as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

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    1. Do you think maybe she took it with her, Shirley?
      Hope you're having fun with A - Z

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  7. Laughing out loud at potential reaction of your children. Lots of parents, mums especially I suppose, keep a lock of their child's hair. I reckon we have some of ours somewhere...maybe I'll ask my ex about when if she ever talks to me again.
    It's always an interesting and sometimes difficult task sorting through stuff. I've moved a lot in recent years, so I'm getting good at 'losing' stuff.

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    1. Out loud laughter is most definitely encouraged at all times.
      I suck at sifting and sorting. I think I was a bowerbird in my last life.

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  8. I've kept a lock of hair from both my kid's first haircuts - it's silly and sentimental and they'll throw them in the bin - but it meant something at the time and doesn't take up any space.
    Leanne | cresting the hill

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    1. Exactly how I feel, Leanne. Spot on.

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  9. Yes I have locks from both my children from their first hair cuts. Maybe they will say eww, but I suspect my children and yours will be happy for the momento of their babyhood. Of course putting them into a gold locket might ensure they don't get tossed!

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  10. I'm tempted to do it.
    I really am.
    But I know the sentimental stuff is really just for me.

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  11. I'm sure when your kids are older and have kids of their own it will make more sense.

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  12. I think my mum has a lock of my brother's hair taped to the back of a baby photo of him.
    For some reason I don't find that weird, although I do think it rather odd to carry a lock of a dead husband's hair close to your body every day. As for that mourning jewellery...how macabre!

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    1. I think I agree, Judy.
      And my hubby doesn't really have a lot of hair left, so I'm wondering if I should nick a bit now???

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