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The Hair Museum, does such a place really exist?

In the history of the various cultures of the world, there has been a special interest in hair sometime. The connotation that has been given to this part of the body encompasses all kinds of interpretations that involve traditions, myths, magical faculties, and even a Hair Museum.

Hair is considered to be indicative of good health, rebelliousness, strength, sexual vigour, bravery, or social status. In this sense, perhaps the most widespread belief has been to give away and keep in a special place a lock of hair from the loved one.

Although for some people it may seem grotesque, it is a behavior that is still practiced today, even in modern societies. This behavior is associated with memory loss and a deep desire to treasure the essence of the absent self, all this crossed by a strong dose of emotions. For all these reasons, the Hair Museum was created.

The Hair Museum: where is it located?

The Hair Museum is located in Avanos, Turkey, a place that enjoys a reputation for the high quality of its traditional crafts. The site is located inside an underground cave and below a pottery workshop.

The owner of this place is an artisan named Chez Galip, who is dedicated to manufacturing and marketing ceramic works in the same place. It tells the story that, during his youth, Galip had a relationship with a beautiful young woman and that both were madly in love.

For unknown reasons and questions of destiny, she had to emigrate to other confines, so she had to break up with Galip. With my heart in pieces the craftsman he only managed to ask his beloved for a lock of hair to treasure it and never forget her.

From a memory to a museum

Galip made the decision to preserve the beloved lock of hair from the gaze of others in the most intimate and personal place he could find. For this he chose the cave below his premises. Over time, the love story became popular.

spontaneously, local women, moved by the story, began to leave samples of their own hair. This behavior was later imitated by the tourists who came to the place with the intention of buying souvenirs.

All this led Galip to conceive the idea of ​​creating the Hair Museum, a place similar to a warehouse of memories and that today has been visited by all kinds of travelers and onlookers. Today, at the Hair Museum, after more than 40 years of existence and more than 20,000 samples of women’s hair collected, the tradition continues.

Some historical background

Although in Ancient Egypt there was no hair museum, it was considered a symbol of barbarism. Hence, the Egyptian elite customarily shaved their bodies completely, also for hygienic and aesthetic reasons. However, the Egyptians were buried with all the wigs they had worn in life.

In opposition, for the Jewish people abundant hair was a sign of leadership, courage and wisdom. Just remember the biblical passage of Samson and Delilah, or the long beards and hair of the patriarchs of that religion.

In this line, it is worth underlining the enormous number of Christian temples that claim to preserve the hair of the Virgin Mary and, in exceptional cases, even of Jesus. Miraculous properties are attributed to these, usually related to the restoration of the health of their faithful.

Something similar happens with the prophet Mohammed, of whom a single hair from his beard is preserved in the Topkapi Museum in Turkey. This is revered and considered the most valuable religious piece in his entire collection.

The sentiment industry

Due to the high infant mortality during the 19th century, dead children’s hair became a priceless evocative object. In parallel, an entire industry arose around highly elaborate jewels such as chests, cameos, pendants, medallions and lockets to house the precious treasure.

As an example of this, the Queen of Spain Isabel II used a bracelet that contained the hair of several close members of her family and, according to certain popular beliefs, of one of her many lovers. Similarly, Countess Maria Walewska of Poland sent him a lock of hair in a cameo as a token of her love for Napoleon.

In England, when Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died, she decided to keep her hair inside a locket. Similarly, after the death of her lover John Brown, the queen asked her relatives to be buried with hair of this character.

some explanations

The pessimistic and romantic mentality of this time stimulated a general vision of fragility in the face of life and, therefore, a veneration for the absent. This led to an affective limbo that prevented separating from the remains of those who were now no longer there, something that came to be called “anatomy of melancholy”.

About, several thinkers manifest the indisputable link between sexuality and hair since ancient times. In this sense, they cite Astarte, a deity venerated by Sumerians, Akkadians, Egyptians and Jews with various denominations. One of her rituals included the sacrifice of hair by women in a ceremony with clear sexual intentions.

The value of the fetish

Throughout the 19th century and much of the 20th, it was common practice for lovers to exchange strands of hair as a token of love. This procedure took on perverse overtones when, After Beethoven’s death, he was stripped of part of his hair to exchange it as payment for the escape of Jews during Nazi Germany.

Another emblematic case was the theft of a lock of hair from the revolutionary Ché Guevara, after he was assassinated. The perpetrator of the theft was a CIA agent named Gustavo Villoldo, who later sold the lock of hair to an American for $120,000.

In the National Museum of American History of the United States, there are samples of hair of emblematic characters from its past. This is the case of several presidents, including George Washington.

As you can see, hair has been a fetish object throughout history. Nevertheless, the good Galip has been the only one to build a specific site to house samples of that valuable memory. The most interesting thing about the Hair Museum is that it was made by people, and not by a group of wise men and connoisseurs.

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